Print journalism finds a new life in niche audiences

In Opinion
(Photo Illustration by Gretchen Davey / Daily Titan)

Contrary to popular belief, the format of print journalism is not dead.

There is still a place for newspapers as long as there are those who still want to read them, regardless of what platform they are published on. Just like there are still traditional radio stations and books, it will be decades before we see the end of print news. Its glory days are in fact far from left behind.

Similar to how records are sold at the local Urban Outfitters, there will be readers who genuinely enjoy the feeling of getting their news through real print between their fingers. That being said, record sales are increasing by a surprising amount, according to Fortune.

This can be explained by nostalgia for old media. Print will follow the same pattern, as a quaint artifact that while still available, lacks the convenience of having news instantly at your fingertips.

A 7 percent drop in print circulation was recorded in 2016. Interestingly enough, the reason this happened was because of a 9 percent drop in print circulation since digital circulation increased 2 percent, according to a study by the PewResearchCenter. Sadly the reality points to print being quite a large problem for publications.

While this is a considerable drop, it is far from a death toll. Even if the market is shrinking, there still is a market and that’s what is important to consider when saying “newspapers are dying.”

When publications such as The Independent in the United Kingdom turn toward the world of online only publication, it is clear that the market is sadly beginning to dry out.

“The newspaper industry is changing, and that change is being driven by readers,” said Evgeny Lebedev, owner of The Independent.

It is important to iterate that the foundation of online journalism comes from the seeds planted by the practices of print. Without print, there couldn’t be online journalism. This seems to be something that many forget when spewing dialogue of the demise of newspapers.

This shift to online news can be explained by the fact that a newspaper’s usage of advertising has a more limited reach than that of online advertising, which could potentially reach anyone around the world rather than the limited number of people that pick up the hard copy. The necessity for online news provides more for the public in an instantaneous fashion, which is key for breaking news.

Since ad revenue is a huge source of income for newspapers, many are choosing to close the doors on print and rely exclusively on their web content since it is such a cheaper alternative. Online advertising goes further than putting out an ad in the local newspaper because of its reach across multiple audiences, but it’s still not the same as holding a newspaper. Online ads can be impersonal and fueled only by getting a name out there, whereas print ads can pertain to anything locally related, adding a somewhat personal touch.

Books have run into the same problem, but they have still found a way to stay afloat in a sea of eBooks and online access. It was previously thought that the printed word would die out and be overtaken by eBooks by 2015. However, it’s actually the digital distribution of books that has begun to decline in sales recently, according to the New York Times.

It’s looking like the digital side of the business is leveling off, eliminating the idea that print media is no longer relevant.

While some will prefer to read a book or the news on a phone or tablet, there will most certainly always be some who prefer the feel of paper or the sound of a scratchy record.

Newspapers are becoming niche, something that is no longer a requirement for engagement in the news. There is a very real possibility that print will proceed to live, but only barely and most publications will move to a different platform. Readers will come to its side, though, with just enough air to fill its lungs for enough gasping breaths to stay conscious, but never quite thriving.

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