November 13, 2008

Are Newspapers Headed to Extinction?

by Chef LC

Every morning my father wakes up, puts on his robe, makes himself a cup of coffee, and goes to our front porch (depending on the aim of the newspaper boy) to retrieve the morning paper. He sits down at the kitchen table and begins reading the daily news. The crumpling and turning of the large and sprawling paper is a comforting sound during breakfast time. It's hard to imagine his morning routine any differently but as online newspapers are gaining popularity, the old paper alternative may be on its way to extinction.

The internet has 24-hour coverage that is easily accessible through a computer, not to mention that many online newspapers are free. These sites have provided a new breeding ground for advertisers. The switch from newspaper ads to online ads is causing a large plunge in profits for several companies. Advertisers are reducing the number of their print ads because it's costly compared to the rather cheap online advertisements. Although this transition is good for advertisers it unfortunately aids in newspaper's revenue downfall. The newspaper industry is resorting to lay-offs and spending reductions. Time Inc., the home of TIME magazine, People, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated cut 600 jobs and began to reorganize its staff. Gannett, the biggest newspaper publisher in America, announced that it would lay off 10 percent of its work force (about 3,000 people.) The Tribune Company said that it would lower the number of workers in the Los Angeles Times newsroom by about 75 people. And that's just to name a few.

With new and younger generations more inclined to go online for their news sources, paper news may begin to fade quickly. The online news has a greater audience already because it's free and easily accessible. But sadly, most of newspaper's revenues come from the print production, a base that continues shrinking every day. These revenues help pay for the news that we are able to read. What will happen if newspapers cannot afford to pay reporters? The country may not be informed about world events; that's a scary thought.

Now every morning I wake up, make myself some tea, open my computer and click on my home page, The New York Times, where I read the daily news. Yes, my father's classic way of reading the newspaper and my millennial generation's routine do differ, but in the end we are both informing ourselves about the world — but this may not continue. This online, free convenience may not last long as papers have to cut back on reporters and spending because of the downfall in newspaper sales. Something has to be fixed. The news is a key way for people to inform themselves about world situations and events. If journalists can no longer work for pay, then America will become less and less knowledgeable about the news. The original newspapers need to figure out how to re-work and re-vamp their paper sales and make them appealing again to younger audiences. And besides, just imagine all those poor, jobless newspaper boys!

(Editor's Note: This piece is also cross-posted on the iVoryTowerz blog.)

(The photo is by Cultural Savage of Portland, OR via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)

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