Print Media: The End of an Era
With the advancement in technology taking over almost everything around us, one cannot help but what but question the future of Print media. There are several different topics that one can argue about this change that is happening around us. For my final paper, I chose to research and analyze the factors that are contributing to the downfall of print media. I discovered effect technology will have on business’s and the employment rate in our country, the question of credibility of online journalists and finally, and the most recent changes of print media going digital today. While researching and analyzing these topics, I came to conclusion that society should question the decision of becoming completely digital. As long as technology advances print media, which has been a vital part of history, will continue to disappear. With these different factors contributing to the decline of print media, I came to the conclusion that transforming print media into digital format, we might regret our decision to change something that has been a vital part of history. Since technology has advanced, we expect to have everything accessible online and expect to have this information as soon as it happens. Although speed and accessibility is a factor we embrace, the rapid advancement of technology is replacing things that have meaning and history behind it. Since my generation has grown up with the advancement of technology, I have learned to become dependent on it. Although I still have appreciation for print media such as books and magazines, my generation has become so adequate with technology it is hard to discard it and return to print media. With the increase of technology people will soon remember print only as a fond memory. Since technology is becoming more and more advanced, it essentially will affect businesses and those who are employed prior to this digital change. From a 2008 article in The New York Times: “On Tuesday, The Christian Science Monitor announced that, after a century, it would cease publishing a weekday paper. Time Inc., the Olympian home of Time magazine, Fortune, People and Sports Illustrated, announced that it was cutting 600 jobs and reorganizing its staff. And Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the country, compounded the grimness by announcing that it was laying off 10 percent of its workforce – up to 3,000 people.” Society is changing and is allowing technology to take over and replace work done by employees. Although it is understood that there’re multiple factors that are discussed before a company cuts their staff. However, if we allow technology to take over our jobs how can we guarantee that people will still be employed by 2020?
As I stated earlier, the cost of print journalism is the problem rather then the lack of speed and efficiency. Its not the lack of people wanting to read newspapers or magazines, it the cost factor which is decreasing print media. This then raises the question whether people are reading the websites created by print companies. Ultimately, we are still getting the same quality of information and the companies are still gaining loyal costumers yet we feel guilty when we access an online version of a magazine. The same article from the New York Times, the author discusses how 90% revenue is from selling the printed product. Without the income from print, companies are unable to keep a stable business. The first way a company cuts costs is by decreasing their staff number. This issue will be a changing struggle for small print companies who cannot generate enough revenue from their printed products. Therefore, small companies will be cut, almost creating a monopoly of the larger companies that are able to survive the technology change. This giant cut in companies leads to a decrease in sources and information. Even though websites are cheaper to run, companies have already invested time and money into print and they must suffer from the increase in technology.
Not only does the decline of people willing to purchase print copies create a huge problem for companies and the print media industry, but it also creates a problem with print advertising. Advertising in print media is a huge source of revenue and studies show that amount of revenue is decreasing fast. In 2011, Forbes Magazine stated that print ad growth came in at -8.9 percent, worse than the -7.7 percent declines that was estimated. The article makes a point to address the first line of another article by UBS (a global firm providing financial services in over 50 countries) stating, “Our caution on the newspaper sector has been driven by the ongoing disappointment in advertising and the growing realization that trends are not improving.” This article was published for the purpose of assessing the “health of the print industry”. The Forbes article continues to go into greater detail about the losses, while highlighting the data released from the Newspapers Association of America. Second quarter print ad growth came in below the estimate of -8.9 percent. Revenues in the classifieds came in even more terrible than expected, a whopping -10.9 percent versus the estimate of -5.1 percent. Although national print advertising as a whole was better than expected, overall it came out to only -8.8 percent compared to the -10 percent that was estimated. Seeing these numbers can only confirm that the print media industry is in danger. Without revenue from consumers purchasing products and the lack of revenue from print advertising, the industry is becoming less stable then ever before.
While focusing on the decline of revenue made by print advertising, it is important to consider the future for the Internet and the increase of revenue it is gaining. Referring back the statistics article in the Newspapers Association of America, in 2011 online advertising was up $207 million industry wide from the previous year. Meanwhile, print advertising was down $2.1 billion, which puts online advertising up 10 to 1. The Internet allows advertisers to advertise to a wider range of potential costumers while keeping the costs down and efficiency up. Advertisers are not gaining from putting their ads in newspapers due to the increase of technology and websites. We will use Facebook for example, with over 200 million people logging into Facebook daily, this number surpasses the amount of people purchasing and reading newspapers. Also with the advancement of Facebook, advertisers can access a number of applications, pages, and groups on Facebook, which gives them access to the information displayed on your profile. Having more knowledge and information about a person means Facebook, and marketers can better target ads to specific users. When companies have better access to our personal information it is easier to pin point their target audience and publish ads based on their liking. This allows the Internet to be the number one choice for advertising.
I have already discussed the decline of both consumer and advertising revenue; however, with print on the decline we must question credibility. Ever since the explosion of the World Wide Web, we have been told to question the context of articles online. Anyone can create a website or blog and share information however, the writer may publish an article with the intent of misleading their audience. Since anyone can create a website, many who publish online are untrained in the journalism field. Many journalists are known to ignore important information within breaking stories in order be the first to break the news and also to preserve other’s reputations. A reader can be confident in articles published by big names such as Forbes or The New York Times but they should till be aware of less the information produced by credible companies. There are several factors that make us question credibility on the Internet. We not only question the credibility of the publisher but also User Generated content. This online feature allows user to comment on news stories and submit video clips and pictures to news organizations. This is a tool websites and companies use to increase traffic on their website and get users involved. It is important to take advantage of this feature since it is one of the major factors which set apart online publishing and print media. However, we have already established anyone can create website, which also proves that anyone can create an account and post whatever they deem necessary. Companies must manage their users comments to make sure all comments are relevant and appropriate which can be difficult when the website traffic increases. The Associated Press Media Editors currently has a project called “The Online Journalism Credibility Project”. As stated on their website AMPE wants to create standards and better policies for online news. “APME’s Online Journalism Credibility Project enlisted six newsrooms around North America to create or further develop online policies and practices supporting excellence in journalism while also tapping the Web’s potential for public involvement. The project was funded through grants from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation and APME Foundation, and also was supported by the Center for Advance Social Research at the Reynolds Journalism Institute, University of Missouri, and the Poynter Institute’s NewsU. The goal of the Online Journalism Credibility Project was to help newsrooms create standards and new and better policies and practices in the rich and expanding world of news coverage online (APME).” By creating and organization as big as AMPE can better information that is published online. By creating better policies and practices the industry is able to distribute credible information to their readers. AMPE also explored other factors that are discussed when publishing articles, such as “breaking news without breaking trust” which is pretty self-explanatory. Readers question how news media companies are able to publish news minutes after it has happened and whether that information is accurate. Publishing stories via Internet cuts down a stories delivery time almost in half. This means news media has less time to create a story that is not only published quickly but also accurately. These are just a few of the topics and questions that the APME has done studies on by different colleagues apart of their team, trying to decide what type of policy would be best for online journalism. The outcomes and research done for the project can all be found online for anyone to view at http://www.apme.com/?page=OnlineCredibility. Lastly, and arguably most important, one should analyze the recent changes in familiar print media and how companies are eliminating print as a whole. In 2013, Newsweek Magazine announced that they would no longer be producing a print version of their magazine; all their content will be moved to an online website. This all-digital edition was launched earlier this year giving Newsweek a new name, “Newsweek Global.” As I discussed earlier in my paper, a major factor in transferring print media to the Internet is the decrease in available employment. The Huffington Post pointed out that the job cuts surrounding Newsweek’s the decision would be major. Editor Tina Brown commented on this during her statement announcing the decision: “Newsweek is produced by a gifted and tireless team of professionals who have been offering brilliant work consistently throughout a tough period of ownership transition and media disruption. Regrettably we anticipate staff reductions and the streamlining of our editorial and business operations both here in the U.S. and internationally (Mirkinson).” The magazine’s last print edition was sold on December 31st. As Brown states above, there will be job cuts happening not only here in the United States but also overseas. Seeing a major media outlet, like Newsweek make such a drastic transformation concludes that the decline of print media is slowly becoming a reality. This makes us questions whether or not other magazines and newspapers will follow Newsweek and transfer their information to a digital format.
Although some companies are still producing print, they are also creating mobile apps to keeps their readers informed via smartphone. Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and other print media companies have already allowed their subscribers to view information from their smartphones. Creating a mobile app is a small step companies are making to transform their print media into digital format. In my opinion, we have the power to save print media. Print media has important value to our society and is also a part of history. Transferring information to the Internet not only cuts jobs, and allows us to question credibility but it also takes us away from our roots. For years people recorded things to learn and pass down information to other generations. If we completely discard print media and rely on the Internet there is always the question of what happens when the Internet fails us. Valuable information that was recorded will be lost, and may be unable to be recovered. Preserving history is one reason why print media has become so relevant and prominent in our countries growth. In conclusion, it is easy to recognize a company’s decision to move their print to an all-digital format. Company’s’ revenue is decreasing due to the decline of people purchasing print media. We can only blame our selves for allowing technology to be a contributing factor in the decline of print media. As a media conscious society we should recognize and evaluate the drastic changes technology is creating. Print media is not only an important factor to our past but also our future. There is a special significance that comes with any form of print media. It is part of our past; it has shaped our country by allowing us to pass information along from generation to generation. If print media is diminished and the Internet fails us we will no longer be able to access recorded information and younger generations will not be able to understand the importance of keeping written records.
Carr, David. "THE MEDIA EQUATION; Mourning Old Media's Decline." The New York Times. The New York Times, 29 Oct. 2008. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. . Fontevecchia, Agustino. "New York Times Agonizes As Print Media Ad Revenues Continue To Slide." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 12 Sept. 2011. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. . Mirkinson, Jack. "Newsweek Ending Print Edition." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. . "Online Credibility - APME - Associated Press Media Editors." Online Credibility - APME - Associated Press Media Editors. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. .