Is the humble newspaper industry now redundant?

The newspaper has been the go to source of news for hundreds of years. Do we still need it?

The newspaper has been the go to source of news for hundreds of years. Do we still need it? In the global news theatre of today, people are used to being able to grab their news off their computers, tablets and phones in a matter of seconds.

So do newspapers still have a place in the modern world? Are they an anachronism that we could do without?

The news cycle of today is a constant one, when a journalist finishes writing something, it is almost immediately old and redundant, requiring updates and changes to keep it current. Newspapers are at a serious disadvantage here because their very format limits them in terms of what can actually be printed before it goes to distribution.

Another possible failing of the newspaper that could attributed to modern consumers is the fact that it has to be read. Most people get their news from the television, the radio or the internet, sources which can be engaged but do not require 100 per cent of the audiences attention.

People listen to the radio when they are driving to work, have the television on whilst eating their breakfast and can get updates whenever they like in the form of podcasts and vlogs sent straight to them, usually for free. While these media do make demands of their audiences attention, it is no where near as high a percentage as a newspaper. You cannot have a newspaper on in the background while you do something else, it must be read one word at a time.

Another potential reason that the newspaper is in decline is the stigma that it has as only being for older people and traditionalists. To an extent this is something of a self fulfilling prophecy, newspapers have been aimed at adults and not younger audiences since time immemorial and now they are paying for that with falling sales figures.

However, though the newspaper industry has a lot of criticism that can be levelled at it, it also has some positives over its competitors. Firstly there is the fact that newspapers are so deeply ingrained into the public consciousness that they have become a major part of society. Proof of this is the fact that the conversation about the decline of the newspaper format exists at all.

The medium has coined phrases like headline news, front page story and writing a column and the decline of a certain medium has never been so divisive. For instance there was a debate over the switch over from VHS to DVD but did that go on for as long as this one has been?

Another point that the newspaper has in its favour is in that it will always be there, in a physical sense anyway. When your computer is broken and your phone has no connection, you can always pick up a paper for a few pennies and get your updates, which will be true forever so long every newspaper on the planet doesn’t go out of business.

Perhaps the most hope for the newspaper industry lies in how they themselves react to the changing media landscape. Some papers, notably The Guardian, have embraced the coming future with open arms. For instance The Guardian was among the first to introduce quality internet content alongside their more traditional print newspaper. They also have various apps that mean they can get around the printing cycle that newspapers have spent the last few hundred years shackled to.

Many big newspapers also now employ people to monitor social networking sites like Twitter, just so they will be among the first to know if any stories break.

So though there are many negatives about newspapers, it should be noted that there is still hope for them. After all if the internet is giving individuals the opportunity to reach an audience and create a career out of it, surely the massive media corporations that own so many of the world’s news outlets shouldn’t be far behind, right?

What do you think is the future of newspapers? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.