Traditional Newspapers in Danger or in Need of Transformation?
Newspapers have been “endangered species” since 1976 according to David Shaw. The question about whether newspapers (as we know them today) will disappear has been a dilemma for many years. Now with more people using the internet and getting their news through electronic newspapers or blogs, this question of “survival” has become a major focus of discussion as the digital news become the future and advertisement revenue from the Web continues to grow. Some suggestions have evolved as a result, like radical changes in the way that newspapers do their business or provide the news. However, as David Shaw stated, this survival issue for newspapers has been a problem for many years, even before the internet. Carl Sessions Stepps suggested that newspapers need to go through a transformation to meet the needs of the audience which will generate advertisement business and keep traditional newspapers alive. Therefore, if traditional newspapers change the way they do business, just as they have done in the past, then they may have many years to come.
According to Can Print Newspapers Survive? advertisement revenue went down 7% throughout the newspaper industry in 2007. In What Newspapers Must Do To Survive, there is a prediction from the Newspaper Association of America of 11.5% fall of the advertisement revenue for the newspaper industry this year. However, as Hollis Towns from the Cincinnati Enquirer stated, traditional newspapers can become a niche publication. Not everybody is connected; there is a tradition about reading the newspaper, especially on older populations or people who just don’t find any appeal in reading their news on a computer. There are also local and community newspapers that offer information that cannot be found in electronic news like, local and neighborhood news, city council meetings coverage and local loyal readers that trust their local or community newspapers.
Unfortunately, the niche market of traditional newspapers is limited and does not include younger readers. As Mary Nesbitt stated, “Young people aren’t reading the newspaper and older readers won’t be around forever”, but there is no certainty in regards to younger generations not to be interested in reading traditional newspapers as they become older and as a result of changes in the technology. In addition, we don’t know what may occur in the future, traditional newspapers need to reach younger readers by finding a place on the Web and digital platforms in order to build a loyal customer base without eliminating the printing model. However, the transformation of newspapers into the digital era brings up an important question about how to make ad revenue through this medium. Many editors have tried to come with a solution on how to make revenue through the Web, but they have not been able to come up with one just yet. Advertisers will follow the audience wherever they go and if they go on-line, they will follow them there, but this is a problem that other traditional media are facing as well not only traditional newspapers. Traditional newspapers must find a more innovative way to advertise in order to get the advertisement business and gain younger readers.
Some suggestions to gain audience interest in traditional newspapers are to offer valuable content and ending the era of “crap journalism”, people want to be well informed, they want news free of agendas from news corporations and the government. For example the article The Political News Media contains many examples of existent bias in news like, news media may influence the values of politics, news recur to negotiations between sources and newspersons, journalists decide what is important enough to make it to the news and journalists follow government agendas (since journalists rely on the information from government sources they are afraid of losing their sources of information). Richard Hofstetter argued that there are many kinds of bias, like political bias, situational bias, and structural bias. These biases can impact the way that news are provided to the audience. However, this can limit the access that newspaper journalist may have to government and private sources. Sometimes when sources feel that certain journalists may harm their image, they don’t provide the information to those journalists, only to the ones that follow their “agendas” leaving the others behind. This is a very important issue, because with the new technology, people can obtain their news from blogs or electronic sources. More journalists are using blogs to provide the news to their audience (information free of setting agendas) which is making the audience to switch from traditional news to electronic news.
Therefore, if traditional newspapers want to survive they need to transform the way they do business. They need to integrate the Web in their daily business to reach younger readers without eliminating their paper version, they need to look into the niche culture that prefers traditional newspaper to generate business, they need to offer innovative advertisement and finally they need to provide appealing content not found anywhere else, perhaps content free of bias and agendas.
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