The Future Demise and End Of Newspapers and Print Media
Published 6/20/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
The other day I shuffled past my pet parrot's metal cage and casually glanced at him. He looked up at me and smiled. Well he didn't actually smile - that would be weird, not to mention it would be an exceedingly remarkable feat for a bird to do - but he did seem to want to tell me something. I glanced down at the bottom of his cage and realized what he was so antsy about - it was time for me to clean his bird cage. The bird poo clumps and endless feather fluffs were starting to dirty up the bottom lining of his cage and it was time to replace his bird bedding. So before cleaning his bird cage, I went and did what I've been doing for the last 10 or so years - I went to the supermarket and bought a copy of the Sunday newspaper to use as bird cage lining. When I got home and proceeded to clean his cage, dumping out the old newspaper sheets that held his former poop droppings, an interesting thought occurred to me. Although I've been buying newspapers regularly and consistently for many years now, I haven't once actually sat down to read one. It seems the only reason I even have them around in the first place is to use them to line my pet parrot's bird cage. Over the years I've learned that newspaper print pages contain the perfect combination of non toxicity and biodegradable composition that is uniquely more absorbent than ordinary paper sheets when it comes to bird cage bedding purposes. But that's pretty much the extent of my current newspaper usage.
Technology And The Internet Are Steadily Replacing The Out Dated Practice Of Getting News From A Traditional Newspaper
Does anybody actually read the newspaper anymore? I'm not talking about CNN.com, NewYorkTimes.com, or Washingtonpost.com - I'm talking about old fashioned plain paper print media. Most people I know who have had any exposure to computers and technology now get the bulk of their written news and entertainment updates from the Internet. Almost all major established newspaper publications nowadays operate their own websites filled with plenty of free content rich text to satisfy even the most information hungry and voracious of readers. With the heavy push towards Internet based news, it seems the traditional newspaper is slowly becoming a thing of the past due to its inability to keep up. Technology and the World Wide Web simply afford readers too many conveniently free reading options at their fingertips for present adopters and future generations to ever turn back to that age old print medium.
Even commercial advertisers are steadily following former newspaper readers out of the door and gradually putting their advertising dollars into online website banner and pay per click advertising solutions where online technology allows the ads to be strategically targeted to the exact demographic consumer the advertiser hopes to reach. Online free classified services like Craigslist have also struck huge blows against whatever remaining classified advertising potential that newspapers may have had left. It's only a matter of time before the end of the newspaper as we know it.
I challenge you to find any one under the age of 35 these days who still enjoys reading from a traditional newspaper. The practice is simply boring and dry. In contrast, by going online, not only can I utilize news aggregation services like Google News and Yahoo News, and pull RSS news and blog feeds from hundred of respected news sources instantly, I can actively participate in online discussions by posting comments and offering my two cents about important issues I personally care about. Through the Internet, I can read all the primary points and counter points immediately to get the complete picture of what is going on in the world of current events. Who wants to get information from just a single slow moving and potentially biased newspaper publication source?
Unlike paper newspapers, the Internet also updates its archive and collection of news stories virtually instantaneously. Breaking news stories can be released to the reader as soon as they happen. When the Islamic terrorists hit the New York City World Trade Center on 9-11, internet news pages broke the announcement almost immediately. Traditional print newspapers simply can't complete with that level of quickness and would not have been able to report on the story until at least the day after. Things have changed a lot since the baby boomer days. We are now living in a rapid fire instant news era. We want our news fast, and we want it free. Only the Internet can promise and deliver such instant informational gratification.
The Rise and Growth Of Bloggers and Blogging Will Only Further Change The Face of Journalism and Traditional Newspaper Reporting
The Internet age has also spurred on the growth and reach of the casual online blogger, and hastened the gradual decline of so-called legitimate press reporting media as we know it today. Legions of both amateur and professional bloggers, including personal finance bloggers such as myself, are doing our part to contribute to the whole information revolution comprised of all sorts of biased and unbiased viewpoints. As a whole, the ability of bloggers to reach a wide array of readers will only help spread the word of informational truth on a larger scale. Individually, we perhaps may be biased, uninformed, self-motivated, and personally skewed to our own predilections, but as a whole, citizen journalists help to positively expand the wealth of societal information available.
Of course there will always be anti-technology, Armageddon inspired naysayers that will want to cling on to print newspapers like a security blanket. The ridiculous argument of some that we still need to preserve the newspaper tradition because of what might happen if technology ever failed or satellites get blown out of the sky is just plain silly. That's like saying we all should preserve the tradition of burning wooden logs at home because of what might happen if electricity ever permanently failed and we fell back into the stone age. It's just not going to happen.
Despite The Growth Of The Internet, Newspapers Will Probably Not Disappear For A Few Decades, So Long As There Are Old Fashioned Folks Who Insist On Clinging Onto Their Old Ways Of Living
Since the rise of the Internet, even my own technologically clumsy parents have started to slowly embrace the Internet as a primary source for getting their daily dose of news, political commentary, and current event updates. However, like many of the baby boomer generation, they still prefer to resort to their old accustomed ways sometimes. While they've gradually started to use the Internet more and more in everyday life, my dad still goes out to the local convenience store every morning (as he's done for decades) to buy his daily newspaper to take home to read. For him and those of the older generation, they probably get some semblance of habitual and familiar comfort by handling tangible things that they feel like they still understand - like paper newspapers. I think my dad still enjoys the timeless practice of reading the paper on his daily subway commute to the office instead of having to squint his eyes for hours at a time in front of a flickering computer screen.
But in the long run, the seemingly unstoppable reality is that as times passes, there will be less and less of individuals like my dad remaining to carry on the newspaper reading tradition. But at least for now, newspapers probably won't disappear for years, so long as there are senior citizens, baby boomers, and stubborn technology Luddites who are not accustomed to the new technology of computers still around (is it really all that new anymore though?). While I see the newspaper form in inevitable decline in the future, perhaps the future isn't now. It seems typical that futurists such as myself always seem to predict the future will arrive sooner than it actually does.
But even a futurist, and an early eager technology adopter such as myself must acknowledge that newspapers will be missed. After all, without newspapers around, where else am I supposed to get my Sunday paper grocery store coupons? The ones I see in magazines and loose leaf advertisement mailers and flyers aren't as good as the ones I often see in my Sunday paper coupon bundle. And yet more importantly, without newspapers, what will we use to line bird cages and train puppies on? What will we use to wrap fish, or crumple up to use as cushion for the insides of boxes during a move or use as stuffing for packages? Computers, monitors, and keyboards simply aren't as absorbent or cushiony, not to mention as cheap or plentiful.