“Print Journalism is Dead!” It’s a headline many anticipate. It’s a headline that I dread. It’s something that gives business owners jitters. How will they advertise now? The art of spreading news traditionally came from newspapers. In fact, it is rather ironic that I am writing on an online newspaper about the need to save print journalism. Nevertheless, reading major headlines online is not the same as reading them on a newspaper. In my mind when I say I want to be a journalist, I think about the stack of newspapers with my name in the byline under the headline of my article. As much as I like writing for the EYE, for the sake of tradition, print journalism needs to be saved. It just seems too soon to say goodbye to the very paper we always complain is too big to hold in our hands
The History of the print newspaper dates back all the way back to the 17th century when it was used for informational purposes for businessmen. The first major newspaper to have come out in the United States is said to have started in 1690, published by Benjamin Harris with the title Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick. Its days were numbered, however, and was suppressed by the government for reasons unknown. Shortly after, in 1704, The Boston Newsletter surfaced, followed by The Boston Gazette. This trend of expansion gets disrupted in 1980 when the future threatens the very nature of print journalism. The Columbus Dispatch, the first newspaper to have gone online hit the internet on July 1st, 1980. And this digital trend continued into the 21st century where we all witness this “new normal” on our computers and mobile devices.
This is where things begin to get rather somber for print journalism. From 2000 to 2015, print newspaper advertising revenue fell from $60 billion dollars to about $20 billion dollars, according to the Atlantic. Without advertising income, the very existence of the paper is threatened. It gets more depressing. The Wall Street Journal is cutting staff and trimming sections like the Greater New York section. Last November, The New York Times said that print ad revenue fell by 19% for the quarter. However, nine hours later their Facebook digital advertising unit revenue increased by 59%.
And why is this bad?
John R. MacArthur, a publisher of Harper’s magazine holds the firm opinion that online journalism is not real journalism. In an interview for The New York Times, He said:
“I’ve got nothing against people getting on their weblogs, on the internet and blowing off steam,” he said. “If they want to do that, that’s fine. But it doesn’t pass, in my opinion, for writing and journalism.”
Understanding MacArthur’s point, reporter Ravi Somaiya said “The web is bad for writers, he said, who are too exhausted by the pace of an endless news cycle to write poised, reflective stories and who are paid peanuts if they do. It’s bad for publishers, who have lost advertising revenue to Google and Facebook and will never make enough from a free model to sustain great writing. And it’s bad for readers, who cannot absorb information well on devices that buzz, flash, and generally distract”. Let’s not forget, too much staring at the screen does affect our eye health.
When it comes to online journalism, let’s look at blogging. Is it journalism? We could call them journalists who voice out their opinion. As noted by Jay Rosen, the New York University Journalism teacher, “Bloggers are speakers and writers of their own invention, at large in the public square. They’re participating in the great game of influence called public opinion”.
On the other hand, Gina Chen wrote: “blogging has changed journalism, but it is not journalism”.
It all depends on individuals, what they prefer. Some people might be environmental advocates, seeking to save paper and welcome this digital future. And some are like me who don’t want online journalism to take away something that should never be turned digital. Ultimately, we can’t stop the inevitable, but there will come a point where we miss that feeling of holding the annoyingly big paper in our hands and scanning for “poised and reflective” articles we hope to find interesting. Imagine instead of the large paper, we have a much smaller IPAD or laptop or we’re sitting in front of a desktop. If we want to get our news outside our house, at our doorstep, we need to start reading more newspapers in the physical sense. Reading news online is certainly easier and far more convenient. But frankly, sometimes I don’t see myself as a true journalist if this is the medium that I am forced to use.