Online effects on Newspapers
The phenomenon of Internet has morphed into a digital “Big Bang” of graphics, information and services. Where centuries of ages went slow of progress and invention, our generation has seen technological advancements in half-lifes. Americans are flipping between a array of mediums for the media: radio, television, newspapers, magazines, books, video games, and that Internet. Pressure to feed a greater audience on the Internet has made newspapers and magazines issue online and print versions in addition to creative initiatives.
In December 2006, the Census Bureau released its Statistical Abstract of the United States unveiling some new statistics on Americans hours spent using the media. In these statistics, the Internet had finally usurped the newspapers. According to the Associated Press, projections for next year place Americans using the media an average 3,518 hours divvied up between:
- 195 hours using the Internet, up from 104
- 175 hours reading daily newspapers, down from 201
- 122 hours reading magazines, down from 135 (AP, 2006)
With people hitting up the Internet more often than picking up the paper, Newspapers have noted and reacted to the need of online equivalents. The Los Angeles Times announced editor James O’Shea’s initiative to follow “an industry trend in which newspapers large and small are shifting resources and energy to the Web, where revenues are growing, and away from print editions, where ad dollars are shrinking.” The LA Times new focus comes as a result of an analysis report by a committee appointed by the paper that found themselves “To put it bluntly, as a news organization, we are not web-savvy. If anything, we are web-stupid’ (LA Times).
Newpapers have been online, but their competition has been astounding. “Yahoo! and Google spew out rountine international and national news by the screen full” (Porter, 2006, p. 41). Neweditors find themselves eating the paper trails of their own reserves about online conversions. In the end, it’s a call to “Reinvent or die” (Porter). Editor and writer Tim Porter stated in last spring’s Nieman Report that “All tht’s left is the journalism. Local journalism. That is the niche, the slice, newspapers can and must own.” Journalism is not dead. Nor will it die in the next five years. The format of storytelling has changed, but the need for reliable and consistent measures of news, especially in the wake of catastrophic events with rountine coverage, still hold tight with individuals.”The Web will likely force television, radio and print journalists to get to know each other better” (Palfreman, 2006). The old institution of the newspaper is just finally taking its turn in an online revolution.
“Media economist Robert G. Picard estimates that only 15 percent of their printed content is unique to their newspaper” (Palfreman, 2006). That leaves a huge vulnerability in the face of the Internet. Print ads are the major source of revenue for newspapers. “The catch is that advertisers pay only a fraction for each online user compared with a print reader” (Cobler, 2006). Staffs have been cut. Budgets are lower. Some print sources are trying more ad spaces to cover the increasing large gap. “Audiences are less willing to spend time and money on newspapers, and this induces advertisers to increase spending and to seek other market mechanisms in new media to reach customers” (Picard, 2006). Journalists have for a long time seen their job as just getting reporting and writing up their stories. Resisting the changes to the Web will not help survival. Newspapers are constantly attempting to transition their staffs in a mode to provide different options for stories on the web, with blogs, video and photo galleries. Chris Cobler from the the Greeley Tribune noted growing readership from convergence online; however, “our surveys show most of these Web readers are not print subscribers, yet most live within our coverage area” (Cobler). While some people point out a nostalgic feel of handling print versions rather than always filtering through the Internet, “For [young readers] the print newspaper had become irrelevant, yet they found the quick-hitting and interactive nature of the Internet suits their needs” (Cobler).
Online revenue does not reel in as much as print. News organizations realize they must get creative and resourceful to transition in the Internet Age. Some have started offering free distribution of print versions in the competition of free information accessible on the Web. Pointed out by multiple professionals, news organizations will mostly need to step away from the old molds and approach with new business models to survive.
Associated Press. (2006). Study of Americans’ Media Use Finds Web Finally Passing Newspapers. Retrieved January 24, 2007 from EditorandPublisher.com
Cobler, Chris. (2006) Risk-Adverse Newspapers Won’t Cross the Digital Divide. Nieman Reports, Winter 2006 Issue. Retrieved January 24, 2007 from EBSCOhost database.
Picard, Robert G. (2006). Capital Crisis in the Profitable Newspaper Industry. Nieman Reports, Winter 2006 Issue. Retrieved January 24, 2007 from EBSCOhost
Porter, Tim. Nieman Reports, Spring2006, Vol. 60 Issue 1, p41-42, 2p
Palferman, Jon. (2006). Caught in the Web. Nieman Reports, Winter 2006 Issue. Retrieved January 24, 2007 from EBSCOhost database.
Rainey, James. (2007). Editor James O’Shea unveils Web initiative at Times. Retrieved January 24, 2007 from Latimes.com