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Print media was once king, but sales of newspapers and other physical publications have receded sharply in the face of the wealth of options offered by the Internet. It has all been one way traffic to this point, with people invariably switching away from print media to adopt digital media as their new ruler.
However, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, recently surprised a great many people by personally purchasing The Washington Post, an august newspaper most famous for breaking the Watergate scandal. Could this be a sign that there is life left in print yet? Or is this actually just another sign of how new media is winning the war on old media?
This was the debate that formed the basis for last week’s We Ask You debate all about ‘Print vs Digital’.
We asked you, Print Vs. Digital: What Is The Future For News? This question elicited a rather disappointing response, with just a handful of interested parties choosing to have their say on the issue. Still, those good people who did get involved generally had lots to say on the matter.
The picture that emerged from the comments is one where print media is revered but is almost certain to be heading for destruction. Sentiments such as the following, all of which are applied to reading newspapers and magazines, suggest there is a lot of love out there for print media.
“The … satisfaction that comes from reading a printed newspaper cannot be replaced.”
“Nothing can substitute the smell of a fresh newspaper.”
“A newspaper can be folded until it can be read in tight quarters.”
“I can’t shake the comfort of holding a newspaper in my hand, leaning on my chair.”
The people quoted above may prefer printed media, but most openly admit they cannot see a future for it in the face of such overwhelming competition from the Web. Which means there will be a lot of disappointed people around when newspapers are phased out in favor of websites, media portals, apps, and eBook editions.
The video embedded below shows how much effort goes into producing a daily newspaper, which cannot even be compared to the (lack of) infrastructure and resources required to run a website.
Comment Of The Week
We had great input from the likes of Harshit J, likefunbutnot, and Lisa O, to name just a few. Comment Of The Week goes to dragonmouth, who, as well as the respect of myself and hopefully everybody reading this, receives a T-shirt for this comment:
I prefer a newspaper/magazine to online news. Part of it is habit but part of it is convenience. A newspaper can be folded until it can be read in tight quarters. If you drop it, the worst that happens is that somebody steps on it or the wind blows it all over. It does not need batteries/power to be read. Once read, it can be put to many other uses. It is recyclable.
Newspapers and their reporters have a code of ethics and supposedly check the facts/sources of their stories before publishing them. In comparison, it is Wild West as far as online news outlets are concerned. The only goal is to be the firstest with the mostest, damn the facts, full speed ahead.
Having said that, I know that hardcopy newspaper have no future. The one, big shortcoming of newspapers in today’s world is that cannot deliver breaking news with the immediacy of electronic media. With society’s lust for immediate gratification, newspapers just don’t make it.
We liked this comment for various reasons. It details some of the advantages print media has over digital media, and in particular calls into question online journalists’ obsession with being first rather than factual. The flipside of this coin is newspapers’ in-built failure to deliver breaking news.
We will be asking a new question tomorrow, so please join us then. We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. We ask you a question and you tell us what you think. The question is open-ended and is usually open to debate. Some questions will be purely opinion-based, while others will see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to the MakeUseOf readership. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.
Image Credit: [BarZaN] Qtr