I Am Internet, Hear Me Roar! How the Web Is Transforming or Destroying Your Favorite Medium [Newspapers]

First, let me pre-empt this series of posts by stating the following: I am a fan of all types of media. Books, newspaper, film, music, etc. I love em’ all! I think there is something to be said (for each of these) and the ‘physical’, more tangible qualities of each are what has helped keep them around for this long. That being said, I am also a big internet junkie and I appreciate how it has transformed the way we take in media, the way we do business, and the way we live. Step back and think about it for a minute. Can you even imagine how we lived before high-speed Internet was as abundant as the air we breath? It is truly amazing to see how technology has developed, and it is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

But, as the Internet continues to develop and advance, it’s impact on other forms of media is ever-growing. In short, the Internet eats your favorite old medium for breakfast – chewing them up and spitting them back out again. Sometimes the media transforms and adapts to form a happy relationship with the web (contrary to what many believe, there is a spark here that can lead to some serious making out behind the bleachers, and who knows, maybe even a date to the sock-hop). But, other times, and what we are seeing happen more and more often, they stumble and eventually succumb to the Internet’s wrath. This can be a pretty scary thought – because many of us, especially those who are just outside the Gen-Y community – are personally attached to our old hardback novels, VHS movies, subscriptions to Time Magazine, and vinyl records. Nostalgia can go a long way – and again, there is something to be said for being able to physically own a piece of history.

Over the next week – I’ll highlight some of these types of media that are in the ‘hot seat’ , we’ll make a few observations on the overall industry, and we’ll take a closer look at the metamorphosis the Internet is imposing on ‘old school’ media.

Chapter 1: Newspapers

Newspapers have been a dying breed for some-time. The way we obtain news and information has dramatically changed. As we used to rely on the daily newspaper for our primary source of news – society has gradually shifted toward a much more interactive and engaging form of data processing. In a nutshell, we want information, and we want it now. Overall, society is extremely impatient and want’s everything as quickly as possible, even if quality is sacrificed. Think about where you turn to get the news. Is it an online website? Is it TV? Is it through social networking sites like Twitter – where news breaks almost before it even happens?

So the question is, how will newspapers continue to survive? WILL they survive? I believe there will always be a place for (at least) some newspaper, but that market is continuing to diminish. Why?

  1. The timeliness of newspapers – they simply are not up-to-date. Most of the news stories found in a paper are dated in comparison to the almost instantaneous reporting of information on TV and the web.
  2. Making it interactive. The ‘smart’ publications and news sources are integrating and developing a web presence. A majority of the local newspapers here in Nashville have websites to supplement their printed counterparts. This allows for up-to-date reporting of information, allows for readers to engross themselves in a particular story, sharing thoughts, comments, providing additional sources, etc. People want to become involved and integrated with stories they are passionate about, and the Internet allows just that.
  3. Advertising. This is probably the main reason printed newspapers will continue on their downward spiral. Newspapers are fundamentally supported by the sale of advertisements. Companies and organizations place ad’s in a newspaper hoping that their target demographic will notice the ad and, in turn, buy whatever they are selling. Prices of these ads are set based on the number of people viewing and whether or not the target demographic is reached properly. As readership continues to decline, thus will prices of ad space. And, as the vicious cycle continues, as advertisements go unsold, newspapers will lose funding and have to cut back wherever they can.

Journalism is far from dead, given the advancements in technology and internet usage, there is no reason to think it shouldn’t thrive as we move forward. It’s imperative for news-providing resources to keep up with the latest technological trends. Give the people what the want. When it comes to newspapers, especially those who have not or refuse to integrate a web-based presence into their business model – the Internet is essentially one peg away from sinking the battleship. Game over.

What is your opinion printed media becoming obsolete? Do you see an end to the world of newspapers and printed media? Where will we be 5 or 10 years from now?

[Tomorrow: Film & Television]