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Death of the Newspaper ... (premortem)

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posted on Apr, 3 2009 @ 02:55 PM
It seems everyday there's news of yet another US newspaper shutting down or choosing to become exclusively web based.

A couple of obvious causes come to mind for this phenomenon, the economy and to a greater extent the evolution of the internet as a convenient and immediate source of information. As the internet has become accessible to more people and connection options such as mobile phones, twitter, etc, are more widely available, it seems that printed newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur. This is of course nothing new, anyone with a little foresight has probably seen this coming many years ago with the introduction of 24hr "news" networks.

For the purposes of the point I'm trying to make in this post however, causality is really not that relevant.

More important to me is the slow death of what is a significant and dare I say necessary aspect of our culture.

Don't get me wrong, the internet is a wonderful tool, as humans we get to share and discover information in unprecedented quantity. Everything one can imagine is but a google search away. It is however that very process of "searching" that can also paradoxically limit access to wide range of "valuable" knowledge and information.

Let's go back to the rudimentary process of newspaper reading.

A newspaper contains a wide variety and cross section of information. World, national, local news, arts, entertainment, sports, editorials, food/cooking, travel, business, etc. The ritual of perusing a newspaper, even if one chooses to forego some sections and stories, still makes the reader aware of their existence. It exposes the reader to information in the the wider context of our world. In fact it is a great starting point for further investigation on particular topics and stories on the internet.

It's not that one should substitute the other, it's just that I believe that both formats are equally valid and in fact can often complement each other.

One of the challenges of using the internet as an exclusive news source is that one often doesn't know what to look for, or one isn't aware of source validity, or how to relate different versions of the same story into their proper context. Of course there are sites out there like ATS that compile news stories, still it is almost always with a specific underlying focus at play.

The worst application of the internet search feature is when it is used singularly to validate one's own preconceptions. An example of this would be a republican always looking for information on worldnetdaily or a democrat doing the same exclusively on mediamatters. Same applies to the Fox News/MSNBC dynamic.

The potential problem with the internet as a singular news source lies in the users ability to basically single out information which may be intellectually convenient them and choose to bypass that information which may challenge their preconceptions.

Of course not every one does that, and many do it sub/unconsciously, but it is the nature of the thing that one has to become aware of its trappings before one can use it as a holistic tool.

Newspapers provide no such trappings. They are a daily snapshot of our world near and far. Yes they are messy and dirty, horrible for the environment, and are subject to the same MSM trappings and agendas that all other news sources have ....

But I also believe they are great and valuable aspect to our social lives and one that I will sorely miss them once the inevitable last copy is printed.

Though we may not know it now, and until we become better aware of how to use that little search feature, I dare say we will all miss them a great deal.

PS. I know, I'm old.

[edit on 3 Apr 2009 by schrodingers dog]

posted on Apr, 3 2009 @ 03:38 PM
Actually a hell of a lotta people dont have the internet. and some just dont have the time to turn on the computer, connect to the internet, find their favourite news scource.

also a lot of people buy them to read on the long train/bus journeys.

i dont think newpapers will ever go out of style, i mean your newspaper cant crash halfway through reading something...or has annoying popups.

posted on Apr, 3 2009 @ 03:52 PM
New's papers as we new them are about gone!
A paper here in Missouri is on it's way out now .
For years they have been fighting to keep going with what has been a hard road.
Paper cost have gone off the scale and the cost of printing has gone up beyond what they can pay.

I see papers going to the new hand held units that download the news wireless. Or on the web. If one looks, most if not all papers are on the web now and most are free. That is where I go to read. Will I miss the real paper that you hold in your hand. Not really, as that news is day old news. And most if not all of us are used to having the news minutes after it happens. Or while it happens. There is just no way that the papers can compete with that.

In the last few years two of the mag's that I got in the mail each month are now gone. One is still on the web the other just went away!
No they are going to have to keep up with the Tech of the day ,or die.
The same is going on with the land line phone company's, they had it all and thought they would always be the king, now look, I pay just 24 usd a month and can call the most anywhere on the planet.
No things are changing and all of us are at full pace trying to keep up!

[edit on 3-4-2009 by Daedalu]

posted on Apr, 3 2009 @ 04:09 PM
I think the one problem is that the techy people get their info online like you said. Problem is, that a billion sites have the same info, but the newspapers have to charge for it. so why would people pay when they don't have too?

The other problem is that newspaper articles are written for a certain set of informed people. You have the internet age now were they can get quick bits of information that is simply understood. Many don't have the time or the training to sit down and figure out the economics, politics, or geology that newspapers refer too.

So I think a change is needed. YOu still have to be educated and informed enough to appeal to the people who understand the information. But you have to explain it in terms that those who have access to quick information will understand.

newspapers NEED to figure out how to explain things, in a quick manor, so that people will be willing to read the rest of the article.

For example from the washington post:

He acknowledged that some of the programs the Fed has undertaken, including lending to businesses through the commercial paper market and supporting consumer lending by taking on asset-backed securities, "are rather unconventional programs for a central bank to undertake.

If you don't know anything about economics, hell even if you have taken economics 101. That is total greek. So how do you keep people reading when it is written in a format that is totally over their head? But people need to read this and stay informed.
Even if you take the initiative to try to search out what it means, where would you even begin to start?

posted on Apr, 3 2009 @ 05:28 PM

Originally posted by nixie_nox
So I think a change is needed. YOu still have to be educated and informed enough to appeal to the people who understand the information. But you have to explain it in terms that those who have access to quick information will understand.

newspapers NEED to figure out how to explain things, in a quick manor, so that people will be willing to read the rest of the article.

I believe that you are on to something there except that I disagree with your proposed solution.

The "dumbing down" effect is well documented. After all, if a population is educated just enough but not too much, it makes it homogenous, consensus prone, and easy to control and manipulate.

Articles such as the one you provided as an example should be understood by the general public as it is through this that new knowledge and independent though are formed. To relegate newspapers to USA Today standards so as to make them more accessible to the already "dumbed down" audience would, in my opinion, exasperate the existing problem as I described it in the OP.

Of course, many may accuse me of "elitism" for my opinion on this subject. Such lazy labels are the knee-jerk reaction of those who would rather get the news they want rather than the news there is.

posted on Apr, 3 2009 @ 06:35 PM
reply to post by schrodingers dog

It is hard to explain. Not dumbing down the newspaper. But providing an oppurtunity to inform the less informed reader of the discussion.

That way you give them enough info to understand the article, and you may persuade them to learn more about the subject.

I am just not sure how you would incorporate it without boring or pushing away the more informed readers.

posted on Apr, 3 2009 @ 10:42 PM

Originally posted by nixie_nox
reply to post by schrodingers dog

It is hard to explain. Not dumbing down the newspaper. But providing an oppurtunity to inform the less informed reader of the discussion.

I understand what you mean.

Truth is there are many levels of newspapers. We have tabloids like the NY post and "serious" newspapers such as the the NYT/LAT/WP etc.

Thus there already exists a variation in content "heaviness" available to the public depending on which publication they choose.

Yet no matter the complexity of the information contained within each newspaper, most of them seem to be in various stages of financial turmoil. Furthermore, in most reported cases, this is not directly attributed to decreased readership. The cause mostly mentioned for declining revenues is the shift of advertisers from print to digital media exasperated by the current economic conditions.

posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 11:32 AM
other reasons I meant to add...

the newspaper also needs to re-invent its usage. It used to be that it was the only way to get info. Something happened and the only way to find out about it was the front cover of the next day. But with the net is not that way anymore.

What to change it too, I dunno. Maybe deeper explanations and more detail that most sites seem to be lacking. Because people get up to date info through their phones or net, but I find most to be pretty lacking in information. Maybe the newspaper can fill in that gap. Add other content that is more lacking.

Third is just advertising. Most papers seem to be lacking.

It just needs an overhaul to meet the times. I think most people see it as an outdated source.

I like news magazines, because they give great article, in depth with lots of pictures. As opposed to what is just currently going on.

someone brought up a great point on NPR< that papers are just big and bulky.

That they should actually change their shape to a more compatible format, maybe more the size of a magazine, something that isn't two feet wide and a lot of pages making it very bulky.

I think just change it to a more portable shape would help too.

I haven't heard but how are magazine sales? If they are not suffereing as much, I think this size would be more conducive.

Or we may just have to resign ourselves to the fact that like the town caller, it is just a medium on its way out.

change is hard to accept, I know.

I hope books never go out. I can't stand reading on a computer, though we are already on our way to reading a book on a hand held tablet like in star trek, but there is nothing like turning pages.

posted on Apr, 8 2009 @ 05:56 AM
It's a simple equation - newspapers survive on advertising.

Most of their advertising was real estate and vehicles.

Real Estate and vehicles are hurting.

So are newpapers.

posted on Apr, 8 2009 @ 06:05 AM
I have family in the newspaper business and it's a scary time for them right now. The Co. they work for is offering early retirement buy-outs and making the other employees take mandatory furloughs without pay throughout the year.

Real estate has moved on to the MLS online system and the auto industry has so many options for advertising online cheaper.

GM and Ebay have a deal going on for listing from authorized GM dealers to put their cars on there Plus, there is also the which gives a set price to list a vehicle until it sells.

Most newspapers have out-priced themselves in the classified sections that they aren't getting the orders any more. Too many sites like, myspace classifieds, and freecycle along with cheapcycle are also gaining momentum.

Just my .02 cents to add in here.


posted on Apr, 8 2009 @ 06:11 AM
Newspapers are dinosaurs.

By the time information is printed in the newspaper, it can be found for free on TV or online. Couple that with the fact that newspapers are not environmentally friendly and they are usually no more then left wing rags .... time for them to go the way of the dinosaur.

I heard on TV that there is talk of bailing out certain newspapers.
BAH! Let nature take it's course.

immediate edit - spelling error

[edit on 4/8/2009 by FlyersFan]

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