Newspapers: Don’t plan to write them off yet

The art and craft of journalism is changing right before our eyes.

The art and craft of journalism is changing right before our eyes. We have, in this multimedia age, embraced new ways of consuming and disseminating information, from social media, the desktop and the tablet, to television, radio and newspapers. It has changed our outlook on how we get information, how we tell information to others, and especially the idea of how we put this information forward.

This debate of platforms and exchanging information in the 21st century raises questions of not just the future of the mediums to which we are accustomed, but also the future of those who aspire to be a part of the legacy of these mediums. Will journalism students land successfully feet first, head held up high ready to approach the newsroom? Or will the idea of journalism change again prompting questions as to the future of jobs in the industry?

The newspaper: Again up for debate

This debate differs depending on the viewpoint sought, but almost exclusively is based on the state of the bastion of traditional journalism—newspapers, and events of this past week have again sparked the debate surrounding the future of the medium.

Newspapers are trying to figure out their footing in a digital age. Advertising revenue is on a decline as more and more people flock to the web sites of the titles that have become household names. To come back into profit, newspapers are focusing on pay walls, where the user pays for content either almost immediately when one pays a visit to the Times, or after a user reading a few articles in the Telegraph. It’s shaped how media is consumed and has become one of the core parts of consumption, though multiple questions are still being asked.

Indeed, this debate on the digital future of newspapers escalated after the announcement this week of the purchase in the United States of the Washington Post by the founder of the online store Amazon, Jeff Bezos, from the Graham family. The Post may lean towards a digital future under Bezos’ ownership, though no plans have been confirmed.

Newspaper still has a role in modern life

Yet, in spite of the digital concerns by observers and questions, newspapers still have a role in modern life. Research from City University in London released this week shows people spend more time reading the print editions of the 12 national titles compared to their web sites.

The research by Dr Neil Thurman of City’s Department of Journalism, published in the journal Digital Journalism, says that an average of at least 96 per cent of time spent by UK readers of newspapers were in print, excluding apps. Yet, if apps were included, more than 90 per cent of time spent reading newspapers came directly from the print edition. The study also noted that The Guardian was the only national newspaper to increase time spent being read both in print and online.

Again, the debate on the future of newspapers escalated, but newspapers still remain one of the core parts of consumption, and some good news for the bastion of traditional journalism.

The newspaper is like a national treasure

While it is acknowledged that there will still be a need for journalism, how it will be packaged and distributed is still up for examination. Indeed, it’s something I’ve wondered as I begin the final leg of my studies. Yet, there is still hope for the newspaper, as it still remains a part of our lives, becoming, as a fellow Kettle colleague told me this week, like a national treasure.

Digital will still have a role in our search for information, and I don’t doubt for a second that its role will still be influential, but there still is hope for the pages that come assembled for our reading pleasure every day.

In the debate on if newspapers will survive, I have my view perfectly set. Don’t write them off just yet.

What do you think? Will newspapers survive? Or will they be written off? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.