Scouring the Media

Are newspapers failing?

Posted on: September 10, 2010

The newspaper industry has been the target of a lot of pressure.

More and more people are openly commenting on how newspapers are going out of date, and how blogs, web columns and web sites are quickly growing to be the most rapid ways to share information. While it is easier to make information accessible by posting it online where anyone can see it at any time of the day, newspapers are still important to our country.

The most important thing for the staff of every newspaper to do is to pinpoint the reason why they feel that they are in such a bad position. Is it because they’re not advertising their paper well enough, or because they are not covering the stories people want covered? Newspapers are reliable and accepted sources of information; the internet is full of falsehoods and news channels often carry a significant political bias. Since there are only a handful of national news stations, it is not easy to find a story without some form of spin. Unlike television’s large media outlets, newspapers are known for generally unbiased reporting. Many people prefer to read newspapers because reporters cover all sides of the story. Unlike a standard two-minute television report, it’s a journalist’s duty to research a story thoroughly and present it as it stands without any commercial interruptions or time limits.

The idea that newspapers have been slowly drowning in the last decade may be a legitimate concern. The rise of mobile journalism has not gone without a toll on the newspaper industry. Clayton Christensen of Forbes.com wrote that newspapers are still worthy of attention.

“Newspaper companies do, however, have real assets to bring to the table,” said Christensen. “Despite declining circulation, the daily paper still produces cash flow that many other industries eye with envy. The core content produced by newspapers is the basis for many of the industry’s disruptors. Without newspaper content, there isn’t much news for television to report, bloggers would have less to blog about, and Yahoo! News and Google News would be blank pages. Furthermore, newspapers have strong brands and highly skilled employees.”

What matters now is how newspapers react. Will newspaper staffs accept the challenge or will they struggle and fail? Unfortunately many newspapers may fear any change, even if that change would ultimately keep papers afloat. As Michael Kinsley of Time Magazine put it,
“Some [newspaper staffs] are going to find the answers. And some are going to fritter away the years quarreling about staff cuts.”

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