Newspapers must embrace change to stay afloat

8 Feb

New media often encourages the notion that the Internet is the new frontier, and newspapers have been left in the dust. Despite the popular view that newspapers have been rendered obsolete by social media and more hip means of news gathering, some polls indicate that readership in small cities is still booming, and newspapers are still heavily relied upon for local news (about 81 percent). This is especially applicable to an older, more educated demographic that reads non-daily papers. These readers have also been dedicated to a particular publication for an average of 25 years.

On the flip side, actual newspaper revenue is at an all-time low after plummeting about 44 percent from 2006 to 2009 alone. In spite of media giant executives’ seemingly unethical personal finance practices, the downsizing of budgets, massive layoffs and sharp decline in stock clout may not be the fault of poor leadership. Gannett and The Tribune Company, among others, have suffered greatly both in part from the economic downturn and lessened newspaper reliance and circulation on a national scale.

The newspaper industry may be severely scaled back compared to its prior glory days, but it has also been quick to adapt, even with a few hiccups along the way. Whether you agree or are opposed to embracing the new media revolution, newsrooms across the country have begun to create specific protocols for these changes, including expanding their social media presence, reaching out to audiences directly and creating some form of ethical standards.

Although some papers are putting a halt on print circulation, others have opted to embrace the wave of the Internet era and have seen success in hosting their news both online and in print. The advent of social media could, in theory, replace newspaper staples like classifieds, but good quality news is good quality news and will always be in high demand. However, how people fulfill this need may be harmful to the traditional news industry itself. Many attribute the decline of old-fashioned media methods to news aggregation and content farming websites, which are now wildly popular for those who want concise news tailored to specific topics of interest.

With these adaptations, however, comes the price of a greatly diminished audience, but not necessarily a diminished readership. A wide demographic of people may still continue to read and be exposed to a news product, but the Internet and new media have made it possible for them to contribute their own ideas and put their own journalistic foot forward to the point where they are no longer a passive member of society waiting to be spoon-fed information. They go out and make it. Generally speaking, this is excellent for the general population — but is it good for newspapers as an industry?


One Response to “Newspapers must embrace change to stay afloat”

  1. Ronald R. Rodgers February 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    Excellent re Rubric. Good aggregation and it has voice.

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