Print journalism cannot disappear | Opinions
Close your eyes and think back to the last time you picked up a physical copy of a print publication. Maybe it was at the airport newsstand, picking up the latest issue of your favorite magazine before getting on the plane. Maybe it was at a relative’s, a hair salon, or passing by a Collegiate Times box on the way to class. While it may be easy for some to think of these times, others may have to dig deeper into regions of their brains to remember a time spent reading a print publication. That’s to be expected given the prevalence of digital media, but it’s disheartening to see this transition becoming the new norm.
Although it may seem old-fashioned to some, I’ve always loved waking up in the morning to read the paper. Even as a kid, I’d sit at the dining room table to eat breakfast while simultaneously skimming the back pages of the Washington Post’s Style section to read KidsPost’s daily edition. I loved the Monday edition, where they highlighted local birthdays and social influencers. I’ve since dabbled in reading other sections, but there’s something about holding a physical copy of an article that’s heartwarming and nostalgic. Not only is it a way to stay informed about the news, but it really appreciates the hard work that goes into publishing an article. It is therefore difficult to see print journalism slowly disappearing as digital platforms become the most common source of information.
Since introduction of internet in the early 1990s, society found other ways to display news and information. Dr. Dale Jenkins, advanced instructor at Virginia Tech’s School of Communication, describes the impact of the creation of the Internet on the newspaper industry.
“The interesting thing about the newspapers is that they made a big mistake,” Jenkins said. “People started putting stuff on the internet, there’s a bigger audience, you could access (information) quickly and newspapers felt like they were being left behind.”
The internet is everywhere, from phones to tablets and laptops. This makes accessing news much easier, as it is always at your fingertips. As the Internet became more popular, news delivery began to shift from print-only journalism to digital media. According to United States Census Bureau, the distribution of weeklies in the United States has increased from 55.8 million in 2002 to 24.2 million in 2020. The prevalence of the Internet has been underestimated, thus leaving out print journalism. Because the distribution of print publications has declined, revenues have also declined. The revenue newspaper publishers have seen a decline from $46.2 billion in 2002 to $22.1 billion in 2020. Advertising has moved online, forcing publications to find other ways to fund items.
Although digital media has made information more accessible, it is a double-edged sword in that it has its drawbacks, one of the biggest being that it makes it easier for the media to disseminate wrong information.
“The cardinal rule in journalism is accuracy and it’s all about if you can’t verify the information then you shouldn’t use it,” Jenkins said. “I think unfortunately social media has allowed us to get a little corny in terms of reporting.”
Anyone can post online. Users can easily edit pages on websites like Wikipedia or post publicly on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook. One outlet may present an event in a certain way, while another may take a completely different perspective. Since we as a society are constantly surrounded by some form of media, it can be difficult to decipher accurate and inaccurate information. Digital media can make information more easily accessible, but it challenges the value of journalism.
“Just because information is distributed digitally doesn’t mean it has to be weak and poorly documented,” Jenkins said. “This part of the process cannot go away. The integrity and credibility of all media depend on it.
On the other hand, many might argue that print journalism has just as many drawbacks in the digital age.
“It often comes down to money. The whole idea that you have to figure out how do I create a publication that I’m proud of, that represents strong journalism, and ultimately how do I do that on a budget,” Jenkins said. “The digital aspect makes it so much easier.”
Unlike digital formats, printing a physical newspaper is expensive. According to an article published by the Seattle Times, the price of newspaper printing has increased by 30% over the past two years. Newspapers demand more funds producing while posting something online can be done at the touch of a button. This increased cost, coupled with the shift to online advertising, has forced outlets to reconsider how to build a print publication on a limited budget. It is also important to recognize the difficulties faced by small newspapers. With less funding and resources compared to larger publications, smaller publications were therefore forced to close their presses at a much faster rate. Despite the obstacles facing print publications, the future of journalism doesn’t have to be so bleak.
For journalism, and ultimately print journalism, to succeed, the cardinal rule of journalism must be preserved: accuracy.
“That’s why I think good journalism will survive because I think at the end of the day people are concerned about the quality of the information they get. They are also concerned about the large amount of misinformation being spread through social media,” Jenkins said.
Dr. Jenkins speculates that readers might grow weary of the constant spread of misinformation over time, an attitude that works in favor of print journalism. The pendulum must swing back to more accurate information, and print journalism may therefore see a resurgence in popularity as people are overwhelmed by digital media. If digital platforms continue to be the first source of information and the written press fades, the cardinal rule of journalism must always remain.
“When it comes to newspapers, print copy may disappear, but I don’t think digital copy will and that’s why I think newspapers will always exist,” Jenkins said. “No, you will not pick up a copy of the newspaper from the box just outside your office, or at the station or airport, but you will always have access to this information from trained journalists who work at newspapers . »
While we may not be purchasing physical copies of print publications in the future, there may still be other ways for people to access this information, whether the publication is online or through other means. . However, this level of precision found in print journalism does not go away.
Print journalism is a labor of love that deserves to be appreciated. Every day, as the public opens the fresh, crisp pages of their favorite daily publication, it’s important to stop and reflect on all the dedication that went into creating this book. Behind the scenes of each publication, a team of journalists works tirelessly to keep the public informed of the news. While print journalism is currently in this state of flux, the future of its existence is in the hands of the public. As long as readers continue to value accuracy and journalists uphold this ideal, print journalism must not go away. The next time you find yourself aimlessly scrolling through social media, consider buying a physical copy of a publication — the future of print journalism will thank you.