Does it still make sense for University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s The Royal Purple to continue to produce a print product? The answer to this question is yes, print as a medium is still considered to be a viable method to distribute news.
However, given the track record of this medium one can only assume that it will eventually dwindle down into nothing more than a faint memory. The real question here is ‘why do we need print now?’, and just ‘how long does this medium plan on sticking around for?’
So why do we need print now? The answer to this can be applied both on a micro (such as the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater) and as a macro (such as the United States) level. The first and more prevalent reason is money, or lack of it.
Think about it at one point the most prevalent way of obtaining news (other than word of mouth) was by print. From 1450 when Johannes Gutenberg first invented the printing press all the way to 1919 when “amateur operators were easily able to broadcast speech, music, and coded messages through the radio”(History.com).
That’s a little over 4 and a half century’s of uninterrupted control, because lets face it news will always be in high demand, the only question at the time was who were you going to get it from. It really wasn’t until the radio came around when the newspapers started to feel a slight sting.
Nothing that would devastate them , at least not the titans such as: the “Chicago Tribune which dates back to 1847, the New York Times (1851), the Los Angeles Times (1891)”(wikipedia.com), etc., for them the birth of the radio was nothing short of bad news, but it wasn’t what was going to put them in a crises.
Which is what television did when it was “first introduced to the public in 1946”(History.com). Like domino’s it caused a rippling effect. Making it hard for the radio industry, seeing how people now wanted to put a face with their voice. With the second wave of competition the newspapers were starting to feel the blow. Once again though it wouldn’t be enough to completely shut them down.
It wasn’t until the mid 90’s when the internet came around. Back then nobody could have predicted the amount of impact it would of had throughout the world. However, fast forward 18 years and you’ll find yourself here in the year 2013, in a time were almost half of the U.S. population obtains their news through the usage of the internet. “According to the Pew Center’s Project of Excellence in Journalism says 41 percent of Americans say they get most of their national and international news from the internet. That’s up 17 percent – more than double – from a year earlier”(CNN.com).
The Pew also claims that “only 29% now say they read a newspaper yesterday – with just 23% reading a print newspaper. Over the past decade, the percentage reading a print newspaper the previous day has fallen by 18 points (from 41% to 23%)”(Pew research center). What this means is people are becoming increasingly less reliant on hard print and more reliant on digital print.
There are many reasons as to why this is, but again the main one being money. Think about it in print your paying by the letter, as opposed to the digital front were you pay nothing more than the amount of time you put into it. Not to mention everything else they have to pay for such as: paper, ink, and some sort of printing press which usually requires a team of some sort (depending on how big you are).
All this adds up to one big bill, and seeing how newspapers are already struggling to keep their viewers their going to have a hard time getting the money to pay for everything. Another key component is time. In a fast pace moving society, time becomes a crucial element for any kind of news organizations. Everybody always wants to be the first to report the news, but only one can.
For print time is an enormous inhibitor. They simply are incapable of producing news as fast as the internet. Take for example the Wittney Housten incident. The first to report of her death was Twitter. There isn’t a day that goes by that someone doesn’t post something indicating that someone famous has died. The main one being Adam Sandler. However, in this case they were correct and believe it or not they were the first.
Demographics is another factor that needs to be addressed. According to Carnegie Corporation of New York The average age of a newspaper reader is 53″(journalism.org). This statistic is very discouraging for advertisers. Reason being is that advertisers know that at that age your buying habits are more often than not fixed. Meaning that if you like Crest toothpaste then chances are you are going to purchase that particular brand over all the others (despite how ever many commercials you might have seen for other products). Not to say that you’ll never try another product again once you reach 53. All this means is that (more often than not) the older we get the less of an impact advertisement will have on our buying habits.
Conversely, people from the age “18-29 are more likely to get there news from online”(press.org). In the same study it also shows that “the groups that are driving the increase in time spent with the news – particularly highly educated people – are most likely to use digital and traditional platforms. Fully 69% of those with some post-graduate experience got news through a digital source”(press.org).
In other words not only are the people who get there news online younger but are also more educated. The educated is another enticing demographic for advertisers. Simply because they know statistically speaking that the more educated you are the more likely you are to have a higher paying profession. Which in return means that you have more money to spend.
The last reason is space, which print simply does not have enough of. This is devastating for the print medium for two reasons. First being that you are limited on what you can write. Take the whole Boston Marathon Bombing, there wasn’t a news site out there that didn’t have a minute by minute update as to what was going on. There also wasn’t a news app out there that didn’t constantly send push notifications indicating the latest report of the bombings.
Print on the other hand is simply unable to do any of this. Which makes it nearly impossible for it to produce any sort of breaking news. It also cant really tell the story in extreme detail. Unlike the internet the paper is limited on the amount that they can say. According to George Rusky the average article in the “newspaper should contain no more than 450 words”(George Rusky). Not to say that for a story like this they wouldn’t do more, but it does demonstrate how limited the average writer is on space.
The second reason is their limited on the amount of stories that they can produce. Think about it there are probably tens of thousands of stories that have happened throughout the years that nobody has ever heard of simply because there wasn’t enough space. Sure the big news will make the paper but it’s all the small news that goes unheard. News such as adding speed bumps in a local town like Long Grove. Or increasing the amount it costs for parking meters in Janesville. This is important because in our representative republic, citizens need information to govern themselves. Which is hard to do because were limited on the amount of information we get.
So why don’t we just abandon print altogether? Simple because its far cheaper to leave things the way they are as opposed to completely revamping everything. Despite what the common public believes news sites (at least good news sites that are profitable) are fairly expensive to make and maintain. Also despite everything newspapers do work. According to journalism.org “newspapers remain far and away the largest news organizations in their communities”(journalism.org). Not to mention that not everybody wants to read there news online. As mentioned earlier the older generations do prefer print over digital.
Which brings me to the second question, just how long does this medium plan on sticking around for? Obviously we wont know until it has already happened, but the way things are looking their days are diffidently numbered. In fact according to the journalism.org “between 600 and 700 newsroom job cuts announced, mostly at large papers, our estimate is that the industry’s total loss will be roughly twice that, somewhere between 1,250 and 1,500. As noted, that is roughly the same percentages as the year-to-year circulation losses through September 2005 — 2.5% to 3.1%”(journalism.org)
On the other hand the digital front is growing exponentially. According to the pew “a substantial percentages of the regular readers of leading newspapers now read them digitally. Currently, 55% of regular New York Times readers say they read the paper mostly on a computer or mobile device, as do 48% of regular USA Today and 44% of Wall Street Journal readers”(pew.org). This is a clear indicator that news organizations are moving away from print and towards the digital front.
If history has taught us anything its that news will always be in demand. The only question now to ask is just how are you going to obtain it. 500 years ago the only conceivable way to obtain news was either by word of mouth or by print. Eventually a new form was added to the mix, radio. With radio on board people were now able to get the news and stay up to date over the air.
As time kept on rolling forward so did the technology, and soon enough television was born. Imagine a world without television, faces like Walter Cronkite, Ted Koppel, Dan rather, and even John Madden would seize to exists, at least historically speaking. Things like 60 Minutes, Game of Thrones, and even Spongebob would never have been made. Not to say that if any of these weren’t made that it would make that big of a difference, but it does show just how big of an influence television has had on the world.
Although, television did have a profound impact on this world it was nothing compared to the new high-bread medium known as the internet. What makes the internet so awesome is that its still evolving. Like an organism its adapting to society and in the process of adapting it found away to incorporate the other two mediums such as television and radio into itself.
Society has always been about change and adapting to that change. The problem is that print is incapable of making such changes. Print as a medium has evolved as far as it can. According to Briana Cooper a former writer for the University of Wisconsin’s Royal Purple claims that “the Royal Purple is read by a decent amount of people both student and staff alike.” Cooper goes on to say that “the Royal Purple newspaper diffidently plays a significant role, but I know that if everything I wrote went online there would be way more people that would of read it.”
This is just one of many examples of how print still is a viable tool in delivering the news. As of right now print is still needed, and who knows just how long it will be needed for? Newspapers have been around for hundreds of years and is still considered to be useful to this day. However with the rapid increase of technology there is only one suitable outcome for the newspaper industries, which is liquidation. Not to say that it will happen any time soon, but yes given enough time it will become completely outdated and undesirable.