Opinion: Newspapers Are Dying

  • October 5, 2020
(Image from Creative Commons)

Across the globe, one thing is certain: with the increasing use of technology and the modernization of the most populated countries and continents, physical newspapers are losing their battle for survival. 

Newspapers have been around since the 17th century. “The Relation of Strasbourg” was first printed in 1609 by Johann Carolus, a German publisher. Ever since then, similar papers were produced in different regions. America’s first (continuously published) newspaper was the Boston Newsletter, with its first issue’s publication dating back to April 24, 1704. 

Well-known modern newspapers include The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, USA Today, and The Washington Post. There are various newspapers in other countries including El Especialito (Spain), The Korea Times (Korea), The Times of India (India), and so on. 

Globalization, advanced technology, and an increase in the popularity of TV and other forms of modern media have all led to a shift from printed to digital articles. When social media usage exploded, journalists and news media frantically rushed to adapt to the evolving environment in order to survive. People still read the news, but now, in a different, more modern form. 

If people skimmed newspapers before, it can hardly be called “skimming” now. Ironically, people read approximately 7 percent more on paper than online, despite the higher viewership online.  

The question most people will ask is: who cares? Newspapers are old news. It’s easier and more efficient online! Save the trees! But, there are a number of reasons why physical newspapers trump all.

First, is the experience. Touch is a vital and satisfactory component digital newspapers don’t possess. E-books, virtual libraries, and online pdfs of books exist, yes, but nothing can beat the sensation of a physical book. Just ask book designer Chip Kidd, who unwittingly designed the iconic Jurassic Park logo (check out his TED talk: “Designing Books is No Laughing Matter”). Smelling an ebook (unlike a regular paperback), he says, will get you nowhere.

Second, is how much is retained in your memory. According to NCU’s website, “the brain-stimulating activities from reading have shown to slow down cognitive decline in old age with people who participated in more mentally stimulating activities over their lifetimes. It also has shown a slower rate of decline in memory and other mental capacities.” Additionally, Harvard Health says “a study published July 3, 2013, found that people who participated in mentally stimulating activities such as reading books, both early and late in life, had a slower rate of decline in memory compared with those who did not participate in such activities across their lifetime. The rate of mental decline was reduced by 32%…compared with people who had average mental activity.” 

Third, it gives you a much-needed break away from your screens that you didn’t know  you needed. Blue light, which emits from digital screens and technological devices, “could damage retinal cells, cause vision problems[,] and…contribute to cataracts and eye cancer” (UC Davis). Additionally, blue light affects your health and sleep: according to Harvard Health, not getting enough sleep is linked to an increased risk for depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.

Last but not least is the importance newspapers have on news media- whether that be tv news programs or the radio. It is reported in a study conducted by Pew Research Center that nearly 95% of stories (with new information) came from traditional media, which the majority are newspapers; furthermore, those very stories “tend to set the narrative agenda for most other media outlets”; the Who Reported New Information chart sourced from the same site displays print as having reported the highest rate of new information of over 45%. The importance of printed news is unparalleled compared to other news media sources.  

Newspapers are dying. Despite the steady decline of physical newspapers, we can take steps to prevent newspapers from becoming obsolete. And that starts with subscribing to a newspaper or picking up a free paper from your local library. This way, we can save newspapers and ourselves from all-consuming tech-addiction. 

Information taken from Britannica, ThoughtCo, CNBC, Columbia Journalism Review, The Atlantic, and NCU.

%d bloggers like this: