Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Future of Newspapers Doesn't Look So Bright

It's the question that keeps circling around and around in the fields of communication and journalism: How much longer will newspapers survive? When I say newspapers, I mean the actual hard copy of a newspaper...not the concept of newspapers in general.

A group of prominent Illinois/Chicago journalists came together to discuss this very topic and share their thoughts about the future of newspapers and journalism as a whole. Check out the videos (they're short, I promise!) here and here. Here are a few snippets from the videos that I found to be the most interesting:
  • Hard copies of newspapers will not exist in 40 years.
  • Journalism isn't dead, but people get their news in different ways now than in the past.
  • People want free and immediate. We live in a "right now" type of world.
  • One journalist gave the example of her 21-year-old son only reading the newspaper if it was put right in front of his face...literally! But once he had it in front of him, he read it front to back. For the "youngsters," journalists need to give them the news wherever they want it and whenever they want it.
  • Every story is chosen with more care in order to sell the newspaper...meaning that typically only very local and very relevant news will make the cut.
  • If and when hard newspapers are gone, people will still find news on a variety of Web sites just as fast as they turn the pages of a newspaper now.
The whole "newspapers are dying" theory is really quite disturbing for PR professionals. Sure we've adapted quickly to the whole Web-based and social media revolution, but it's still extremely gratifying to see that article you worked so hard to get in the print copy of a newspaper. And to many clients who haven't quite gravitated toward the Web revolution, it means more to them to see an article in the hard copy of a newspaper as opposed to online. It will be interesting to see which path newspapers take in the future.

On a more positive side (and because I have to give props to my alma mater), Central Michigan University's student newspaper, CM Life, will celebrate 90 years of publishing on Aug. 21 of this year. 90 years is amazing!!!! I worked in the ad department at CM Life and it was by far one of the most beneficial experiences of my life, so I have mad love for that newspaper! But this just goes to show that not all newspapers are dying. Some are still plugging forward full force. Maybe the answer is that newspapers need to be free...would that solve the problem?

Whatever the solution is, I am very intrigued by the way journalism, communication and the media is changing right before my eyes. It makes the PR profession more of a challenge...which isn't a completely negative thing because challenges build character, right? :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a 70 year old newspaper clipping service, I have heard this before, time and time again, about 30 years ago. People still want a tactile experience. Why do you think that people print out emails... First there was newspapers, then they was radio, then there was television, then the internet, none of which put the others out of business. It is a migration of the importance, and newspapers will need to find another way to make money. Ad, and Subscriptions are going to be it. Check out I can help you with you media monitoring if you need it. videodred