Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Internet Vs. Newspaper: Round 1

With the internet emerging as such a dominate form of media, many people are wondering what is going to happen to the many other forms. I would say for classic newspapers, the outlook isn't good. They simply do not have the same adaptability that online news does. A quote from the article "Newspapers: Summary Essay" from The State of the News Media website ( has some hard numbers that should be taken note of:

"Roughly 13,500 jobs for full-time, newsroom professionals disappeared during that period, the total falling from 55,000 to 41,500, a count which includes some 284 new jobs at some online-only newspapers now included in the industry’s tallies. That means that newsrooms have shrunk by 25% in three years, and just under 27% since the beginning of the decade"

25% newsroom reduction in three years is huge. If this trend were to continue, simple math can show that it would not take long before what was left of standard newspaper businesses all but evaporated.

The internet is superior to classic newspapers in almost every way. For example, producing online articles does require ink or paper, so it is more friendly to the environment. Also, server storage and website creation is fairly inexpensive in comparison to the physical components necessary to produce a standard newspaper, such as printing presses. It's also much cheaper to display beautiful, colored pictures on a monitor than it is to print them in a newspaper.

Also, online news can be delivered almost instantly. Newspapers come out once per day; news online is constantly being released and as stories evolve, they are updated. If there is a change in the story at the last minute, standard newspapers either need to be completely reprinted or the story needs to be saved for another day. Online, a simple edit and re-upload of the article anytime, from nearly anywhere, can bring a story up to speed.

Even the newspaper's one main strength, its mobility, is being challenged. Smartphones and portable computers are becoming ever more popular. Things like the Kindle, iPad, netbooks, smartphones, etc. can be taken almost anywhere and with an internet connection, they can update the news as it arrives.

There will probably always be a niche market that simply prefers the old fashioned method, but the question is how long will the size of this niche group be large enough to continue catering too. Printed type will be popular with people not accustomed to technology, as well as with people who encounter severe eye strain when staring at a screen for extended periods of time.

I think the final factor in the demise of printed type will be environmental concerns. As the world tries to be come more and more environmentally friendly, habits that are viewed as wasteful will be reduced and eliminated whenever possible. Mother Nature would prefer we do our reading electronically, and while I do not foresee an immediate collapse of the classic newspaper, it will happen sooner or later.


  1. I totally agree with your blog. When I took a journalism class last semester, my professor took us on a tour of the Free Press. They were doing major renovations to the layout of the office space because they had so many cuts. There was an entire floor that was empty since one part of the paper was combined. It is more beneficial to our environment, and much more convenient to us to be able to get news online. Even the iPad has its own newspaper. The internet has taken over and taken away from the need of a physical paper. However, I don't think this ends the job for journalists. Since there will always be the need to bring in more stories and keep them up-to-date, the journalist's job is never done. We will still need news, but not from something we hold in our hands.

  2. It's easy to look at the decline in printed media and see a big W for the big E. After all think of all the trees not being cut down to produce the monstrous Sunday editions and all the fossil fuel emissions averted by not transporting heavy papers across the region.

    Unfortunately, the argument for the environmental positives of the abandonment of print media neglects to consider the other side of the table.

    Like the costs of staying relevant online far outweigh the savings in physical logistics (see here ),the environmental costs associated with the attainment, refinement, transformation and disposal of the rare elements and chemicals found within the computer you are using to read this comment likely outweigh the savings in paper and emissions.