Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Death Knell for Newspapers?

In his blog, former Mercury News reporter/columnist Dan Gillmor comments on the "slow implosion" of the newspaper industry, after the annoucement of major layoffs by The New York Times Company and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

It's not encouraging news for people who hope for a career in journalism. Gillmor writes:
"It's painful to watch a business I care so much about commit slow suicide this way. But the financial writing is increasingly on the wall for an industry that simply can't figure out how to handle its challenges.

"There will be a serious loss to society if daily newspapers -- or at least the community watchdog function they still fulfill, despite their well-chronicled flaws -- were to disappear or be disrupted while a new business model emerges. I don't know if we need newspapers (though I still read them avidly). We damn well need what newspapers do."

So what do you think? Do we really need newspapers? Does the newspaper industry have a role to play in the digital age? Or is it a dinosaur lumbering toward extinction?

And what's the impact on democracy if newspapers die?"


Seychelle Martinez said...

Like all other forms of old media newspapers are being phased out due to their lack of efficiency. The digital age has brought us much easier, cheaper, and faster methods for production and people are more than happy to trade the cumberson, time-consuming traditional methods of writing, editing, and layout for the new methods availabe on computers. Because of the availablility and convience of the internet, almost anyone can publish; which leads not to the death of democracy but to the birth of new forms of free speech.

Gabriel Velez said...

I t has become easier to just go on the internet to find out my information on what is going on in the world, but it's always nice to pick up a newspaper and read through it. When your on the internet you tend to bypass areas that have no interest to you where as when you read a newspaper, you tend to read things that might not even interest you, but you tend to still read them because its something to do.

casey fedde said...

Even though news is evolving into other forms of media like the Internet, I think there will always be a special place for newspapers and newspaper journalists. I happened to catch most of the C-SPAN 2 presentation last night on “Examining Opinion and Bias in the News.” Here is the link to access the webcast
You can also access it through the Michigan State University webapage at and click on the Grant Howell Symposium link in the middle column.

A couple of key points that I picked up on in the question and answer segment dealt with how the news picks their stories. Mark Seibel, the Managing Editor for Knight Ridder newspapers, commented that the leading front-page story is picked based on interest. Simply, newspapers are marketing tools to gain profits, so news stories are going to focus on entertaining and holding the readers’ interest. Because newspapers are such a huge area for profit, I feel they will continue and will not be completely wiped away by technology.

Gerald Boyd, the former Managing Editor for the New York Times, made the point that “the world has changed in a fundamental way.” He said that when he wrote a story, the second paragraph would always be the nut graf. This would make it very easy for Americans to place that story and how it affects them and their country. Now, the stories have gotten more complex and very hard to follow. Maybe this is why our newspapers, like the San Jose Mercury, don’t run Iraq stories or political stories on a more regular basis. According to Garry Gilbert from the Oakland Press, readers don’t want to be challenged. Because readers don’t want to be challenged and the news stories are becoming more complex and unclear, readers are pressuring newspapers to print SJ Sharks stories in place of the more important news stories. If this continues, yes, the newspapers will die as newspapers and will become more like Star and People Magazines!

Democracy requires the free flow of information, which is what newspapers do. Democracy will not change without newspapers, it might advance, but information will still flow in the end. The newspapers have to make money while informing their readers, and when one of these fail, the newspaper will no longer exist. Primarily, when profit ceases, newspapers will disappear. Democracy, though, will continue.

casey fedde said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Heidi Romswinckel-Guise said...

I think that we need newspapers even though we have all these advancements in technology. Even though the internet is a faster way to access information, I think that newspapers will always have a special place, as Casey stated. Besides, accessing information through the internet can sometimes become confusing. There is so much information that can be found, but with a newspaper, you have a limited container (the actual paper) to browse through. People tend to scan through information on the internet, so I think that the concentration for reading stories is stronger for newspapers over the computer. Reading the newspaper can get tiring, but not as tiring as looking at a bright screen for a long amount of time is a lot more tiresome.
I think that society does need newspapers, even though there are a lot more faster ways of receiving information. I think that people will eventually start to brush off the idea of the newspaper, however. Yet, I think that they will still be able to play a role in society. People who do not have time to turn on their computer before work to check out the news will most likely continue to grab newspapers to read before they start work. Reading the newspaper is relaxing for many people, as well as informative.
I think that the rate of newspaper readers will start to decline as the digital age continues to grow, but I do not think that they will become extinct any time soon.