In the media world, particularly the newspaper industry, the introduction, evolution, and eventual use of the internet of the public as well as the media practitioners themselves, have shown how this technology has indeed affected the field. While the internet has undeniable advantages in today’s modern or sophisticated living, altering the system of the newspaper business has created negative reactions rather than total acceptance of the technology.
In fact, the existence of uncontrolled threat posed by the internet to the print media business has revolutionized the idea and manner of producing the primary good of the profession which is the mainstream publication of print news reports. Despite the adverse effects of the net, the escalating growth of print journalism on the web, otherwise known as internet newspapers, intensified an argument about the possible practice of market share. This is where the conventional print media and internet complement each other.
While the exercise of public sharing is technically not detrimental to the newspaper industry in general, the apparent negative implications of the advance technology to the overall operation of publishing a newspaper have proven to be more of a hindrance signaling the termination of the business. However, since the internet has negatively affected the print media in terms of advertisements, circulation, readership, and workforce of newspaper organizations, it would be practical not to go against the merging practice and instead maximize the opportunities that the system offers. Hence, in these trying times, in order for the profession to survive, it would be applicable for the newspaper industry to just accept the challenges that the internet has created and use them in a way that will benefit both the conventional print and digital media.
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The Newspaper Industry, An Overview
The print media as an institution and industry was brought into existence as a result of the demand, innovation, human freedom, liberated business undertaking, and established standards in the society. History accounts reveal that the earliest and closest form of newspaper was a daily news sheet under the name Acta Diurna or Daily Events, which was printed in Rome around 59 BC. The use of a press machine to publish an ancient German poem, followed later on by the printing of the Bible, ushered the birth of the newspapers, books, and magazines era.
This is significantly based from the mass production and publication of print materials. Early newspapers or related printed materials were produced in France, England, and Germany and throughout Europe from 1500 onwards. In 1609, the Avisa Relation oder Zeitung of Germany became the first regular newspaper published in Europe. After 44 years, England's Oxford Gazette was published with an employment of double columns which made the publication as the first real newspaper (International Newspaper Marketing Association 2008).
The century of 1700s was a period wherein several market components inspired the evolution of the industry with the introduction of the daily newspaper. These market factors that determined the advent and establishment of the newspaper industry include the escalating literacy of people, the creation of nation-states, the growing postal system, the increase of business establishments in urban areas, the rise of writing and philosophical customs stressing the need for democratic means of participation in government, and the emergence of technologies such as press machines that reinforced the production of newspapers.
Historians simply recorded the said century and its corresponding development as an era of outstanding news reporting and print media industry. The Daily Courant was London's first newspaper published daily in 1702. The first use of the four-column format was done by the Daily Advertiser of London in 1754, while the first newspaper printed daily in France which started in 1777 was called Journal de Paris (International Newspaper Marketing Association 2008).
While newspaper industry was flourishing in Europe and other parts of England, the Pennsylvania Packet became the first American newspaper in 1784. The first newspaper market was marked by the eventual selling of newspaper that can be purchased for a penny in New York in 1833. The industry progressed with the introduction and use of the telegraph, which carried stories coming from far-away areas, as one of the enterprise tools. Thereafter, the industry further evolved and led to the creation of an illustrated daily newspaper, which carries a full-page advertisement, and the use of graphic image or photographs in print media.
While the 19th century marked the primary foundation of modern newspaper, the period of the 20th century saw the professional evolution of the industry and its adjustment to altering media and user markets. The newspaper trend has also led to the increasing wave of advertising market, and rising profit. Unfortunately, the profitability of newspapers drew the attention of capitalists who expressed their interest to buy the original newspaper from the heirs of business founders. This, along with the concurrent exposure of newspapers to the desires of money and profit-hungry stock trading, resulted in a decline of the newspaper industry’s reputation (International Newspaper Marketing Association 2008).
The contemporary newspaper business is rearranging its priorities. These include separation of news utilization, advertising assets, the reward and liability of being a mass medium, leveling the desires of the public and marketplace with the news organization's responsibility to address the demands of the marketplace, a backlash of the print media against modifications within the industry, the production of the conventional ink-on-paper or printed material and its traditional distribution against the digital distribution of news report on the internet, escalating pressure to profit and lastly, expansion of media company's main brands into other areas in order to sustain income and for the industry to survive (International Newspaper Marketing Association 2008).
The Struggles and Survival Strategies
The modern-day newspaper industry is faced with advertising, circulation, readership, work force and quality struggles. In many parts of the world, print media have similar predicaments in terms of their number of employees and readers, in addition to problems in disseminating their products and the dropping advertising revenues. To demonstrate this point, the following realities can be considered.
The Boston Herald has fired almost 160 employees; the Daytona Beach News-Journal has trimmed around 99 positions; seven percent of the Detroit workforce or around 150 employees want to have acquisitions of the operating business partnership that publish and distribute newspapers; the Hartford Courant is cutting some 57 positions in the newsroom; the Palm Beach Post is removing around 300 jobs among all its departments; the Baltimore Sun plans to cuts its workforce to 100 come August 2008, the San Jose Mercury News will have a total of 63 percent in cutting its employees; and both the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram have already trimmed their jobs to 31 (Potts 2008).
For the newspapers organizations, the information has immediately escalated from bad to worse. Aside from the above workforce or personnel problem, the industry struggles itself with a significant fall of advertising income. This is because revenue from an advertising placement is the main source of income of a newspaper and it has started dropping for the past year resulting in more buyouts and layoffs. Business experts and the managements of newspapers have realized the need to revise their industry forecasts in a downward direction.
This is evident with their inability to acquire a steady footing on the sinking floor of the newspaper business. Specific manifestations of cost-cutting also include shedding many employees, getting rid of several distribution routes, and publishing lesser pages while income boundaries continue to reduce (Perez-Pena 2008: 1).
In order to survive these trying times, newspaper companies have resorted to employ the two strategies of reducing the cover price and reducing costs. The Sun is one of the newspaper companies that have decided to decrease the price of their newspapers. Meanwhile, newspaper firms such as The Express, Telegraph Media, and Trinity Mirror are now cutting down their expenses. In fact, recently, the management and editors of the Express have decided to reinvent, if not sacrifice, their straight journalistic nature by combining features and news and eventually removing its reportorial staff covering the city.
On the other hand, the Telegraph has decided to use integration or consolidation as a cost-cutting technique, whereby every asset and effort of the company are maximized. With this, it is evident that the newspaper industry is heading towards a new era where coordination and complementation of the hard copy or printed material and the internet is an essential survival call. Whatever the benefits of the cost-cutting strategies are, their eventual outcomes, especially the impact of the internet on the industry, should be addressed (Busfield 2006).
Impact of the Internet
The basic and long-run force threatening the newspaper industry is the loss of income from advertisement placements which the internet has taken away from the print newspapers—an existing trend for the past decade. This is because the advertisers have considerably more benefits on the net than on the mainstream newspaper. These benefits include the lower advertisement price. Advertisers that place their products on newspaper sites pay less than placing promotional materials on published newspapers. Another advantage of placing ads on online newspapers is the wider public scope compared to newspaper readers. Many internet sites, not only online newspapers, attract and draw many surfers to their site (Perez-Pena 2008: 2).
Despite criticisms on the internet's negative impacts on the industry of publishing newspapers, proponents of various websites, including online media, explained that there is nothing wrong with the current business competition. They stressed that websites have content and assured advertisers that with a widened market reach, the internet sites including the sites of the established newspapers, maintain the right connection where they can relay their products and services to the target customers.
This is evident in the annual growth of newspapers' income coming from online advertisements. Many business experts and analysts observed that an increase in online advertising has caused more damage to the mainstream publication of newspapers which now endure a decreasing sales coupled with increasing newsprint prices and expenses (Perez-Pena 2008: 2).
The outstanding development and evident impacts of the internet on the newspaper industry for the past years meant significant modifications in the business dealings, as well as the procedures of reaching the public and transfer of information between the readers and media organizations. In fact, newspaper publishing is among the business undertakings which was most affected by the introduction and eventual evolution of the fresh and advance medium such as the internet. The appeal and quality of the new digital journalism have created extraordinary changes in the newspaper sector.
It is worthy to note that some of the changes brought about by the internet have affected the manner of work of a newspaper's editorial staff, as well as the nature and presentation of news reports that are delivered through the web compared to the traditional newspaper publication. Although these changes have somehow made an impact on the credibility and content of a news report, they are necessary in order for a newspaper company to survive and continue its obligation to the public (Flavian ; Gurrea 2006).
As such modifications are foreseen to increase in the coming years, it would now be convenient and practical for newspaper organizations to treat the news medium as a form of development and just maximize it by taking advantage of what the internet can offer. This is because it is in this manner that print media practitioners and their respective newspaper outfits will realize and eventually appreciate the many opportunities that the internet can bring in the future.
While it could be admitted that the internet was initially treated as a new environment which provides a limited version of published newspapers, an increasing number of publishers, print journalists, and the general public are now considering additional opportunities, creating additional products and services that are totally different from the printed newspapers (Flavian ; Gurrea 2006).
The introduction of the so-called the Internet Newspaper as the primary impact of the web has resulted in enterprising creations. Consequently, form, quality, or content and packaging will be considered less essential than the originality, appeal, the manner by which the news online is conveyed, and the interaction it will create. While some true-blooded print journalists will regret the innovations, they can be assured that the classic print media will endure the technological challenge. This is for the reason that the traditional newspaper and its knowledgeable and expert journalist will always have their audience and survive the impact of the internet.
However, it is important to consider that while the original should be retained, the industry needs to adapt to the changes and address modern demands. Hence, print journalists will reap success in the future if they will be ‘networked’. In so doing, they will have the opportunity to become a multi-skilled newspaper practitioner. This will work to their advantage, wherein the internet will enable them to link a variety of news content and information with a diversified public (Becket 2008).
The internet newspapers create a new mainstream medium for printed newspapers. This development stressed three main areas which supported that online newspaper is a potential industry. These include effectivity in the construction and newspapers' presentation on the net, effectivity of the medium that encourages more interactivity between the newspaper company and its readers, and the manners in which the readers communicate with and react to what they read from online newspapers. These considerations made a significant effort in understanding and appreciating the impacts of internet on newspapers and benefit rather than go against it. The medium of internet newspaper also enlightens the industry on how to provide better service to the public and eventually acquire enterprising knowledge (Li 2006).
Accepting the trend and benefiting from online newspaper lighten the negative implications that the internet has brought to the newspaper industry. It is apparent that digital newspaper is an optional way of bringing and presenting news reports. Thus, as a result, online newspapers have rapidly strengthened, opening up its place in the journalism field.
The explanations and justifications mentioned earlier in the text clarify that, by being networked, digital newspapers can offer various features which are different from that the traditional newspaper publication. This is because such technology adapts more appropriately to the preferences of a diversified public. Moreover, by taking advantage of the internet’s benefits, publishers have more chances to develop their services and products, as well as promote online newspapers as an industry offering free information and opportunity of worldwide connection.
Therefore, media organizations which provide both the traditional publication and online newspaper should concurrently remember the fresh possibilities and opportunities that the web offers for the print media. Furthermore, it is only practical for them to maximize and take advantage of the various benefits that this new technology provides. This is because the updated news report and information can be obtained immediately through online newspapers.
However, it is worthy to bear in mind and regard with respect what the traditional printed newspaper has contributed to the society. It is just a matter of keeping abreast with the modern world. Thus, one can always go back to and rely on the printed news publication. Online newspaper, therefore, only presents diversity, a healthy competition, and a faster deliver of news which complement the print news industry and vice versa.
List of References
Beckett, C. 2008, ‘Reinvention is key to survival of the industry’, Press Gazette, 6 Jun.
[Online] Available from
<http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=7&storycode=41330> [23 July 2008]
Busfield, S. 2006, ‘Newspapers' cut or slash survival strategies.’ Organ Grinder, 30 Oct.
[Online] Available from http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/organgrinder/2006/10/3_types_of_newspaper.html [23 July 2008]
Flavian, C. ; Gurrea, R. 2006, 'The impact of the Internet on press sector: New possibilities of digital press versus traditional press' Journal of Internet Banking and Commerce [Online] vol. 11 no. 3. Available from ;http://www.arraydev.com/commerce/JIBC/2006-12/RaquelGurrea1.asp. [23 July 2008]
International Newspaper Marketing Association n.d., A Brief History of Newspapers [Online] available from ;http://www.newspaper-industry.org/history.html; [23 July 2008]
Li, X. 2006, Internet Newspapers: The Making of a Mainstream Medium, Lawrence Erlbaum
Perez-Pena, R. 2008, 'Papers Facing Worst Year for Ad Revenue’, The New York Times, 23
Jun. [Online] Available from <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/23/business/media/23paper.html?_r=3&ref=media
&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin> [ 23 July 2008]
Potts, M. 2008, ‘Death of Almost 1,000 Cuts,’ Recovering Journalist, 26 Jun. [Online]
<http://recoveringjournalist.typepad.com/recovering_journalist/2008/06/death-of-almost-1000-cuts.html> [23 July 2008]
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