John Roberts, Seth Prue, & Nicholas Pulliam
There is no surprise in saying that print media has been dominated by today’s technology and of course, the Internet. As we try to understand the current issues in this media, we look back and try to learn from print media’s past and see how it has dealt with recent issues. Ever since there have been other ways to be informed about the news, such as the radio, newspapers have been dropping readership. E-Books have slowed the roll of paper books being printed for in hand reading. Online subscriptions have taken over monthly subscribers who would normally have had a magazine delivered to their door. Print Media is something that’s been in our culture for many years and is slowly fading away as we know it.
Change in the everyday consumption of media has caused newspapers and other printed media to fall into its worse financial crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930’s. Consumers have turned to free online news sites to get their information that they would have had to pay to see through a newspaper. Because of this, advertising revenues have plummeted because they don’t want to compete with free news. Newspaper chains have gone bankrupt or at least have turned to laying off workers because the work is not needed. (Kirchhoff, 27)
People who are taking these jobs seem to be anybody with a phone or computer in front of them to attempt to make some sort of informational audience for themselves. Amateur writers are shining in this moment and are taking advantage of the no pay work that used to be another’s job. In 1998, about 58.6% of adults read the newspaper daily, by 2007, only 48.4% were reading their daily paper. (Kirchoff, 30) That number has continued to drop ten years later as we are now sitting in 2017 and it seems as if newspapers are non-existent.
As print media tries to bounce back from internet publishers, it would not be the first time they have struggled against another media. In the 1950s, newspapers were the dominant source to get news from, but by 1974, more than half preferred to get their news from the television (Spring, 87). This may not seem to be a current issue to most, but the first newspapers have been dated back to the 1600s, so in the newspaper’s lifetime, 1974 is a recent event. In this time however, newspaper industry representatives still felt strongly about newspapers taking back the top source of news. This is because the television has not figured out how to deliver that same type of information as newspapers have already done so well. They worked together at the time as television would try to share news, but mostly entertain its audience, and newspapers would distribute information. (Spring, 93-94)
Today, the only thing online writers lack is good journalism, something newspapers take pride in. However, as the more they write and gain attention, more resources and experiences are gained and slowly diminishes the newspapers proud journalists. Perhaps newspapers won’t die out, instead they could find a new and better role in how they deliver their media. Such as they did when television became a competitor and newspapers finally saw criticism and was forced to improve the quality of their work as a business. Maybe in a way, newspapers need to have the same mindset before it seems too late.
“Do you know how many results Google pulled up on this subject in less than half a second? The answer is over 16 million. 16 million views, hypotheses, opinions, predictions and misconceptions. For some the enormity of the coverage would signal an industry in trouble. But for me, it shows that people care—they care about the future of an industry that for generations has been connecting those with information to those who want to learn, to enjoy, to be enriched.”(Pimolporn, 1)
Throughout the majority of history in print media, books have been an essential part in finding information and entertainment. Unlike magazines and newspapers, books have always been able to go longer and fully elaborate and disclose one’s ideas and thoughts. There is no set length to any book, they can be from five pages to five thousand pages if a writer has enough to say. Even though the industry is being hurt, it is on average the least effected. The purpose of books has always been a little different. People normally use books for killing time and decompressing after a long day and tend to bring them on trips where waiting might be involved. Reading is known to be very relaxing and can play such a different role than news, magazine and other print media. Books have the ability to last longer as far as the time of usage for a single item. Usually people will skim through newspapers and magazines to read what interests them. As for books, they are typically read all the way through. This is one of the reasons that they might stick around longer than the numerous other types of print media.
Another one of the biggest differences in the print media industry is that in many cases, the media is put into a niche group and may have smaller demographics than other competitors. You could argue that half if not more than half of books are stories of all sorts. From bibliographies, to fiction and non-fiction to memoirs. The stories written can be enjoyed and liked but a much, much bigger demographic then a single topic or news related item. Even better, it’s hard for stories to get outdated. No matter what, in movies or books, we put ourselves in the time setting to feel what is being said. Typically, nobody is going to read a year-old newspaper or a five year old magazine for leisure. The information will usually immediately get outdated. Books are what we might call, “timeless.”
It’s safe to say the book itself as an idea will absolutely never fade away unless we lose people with the love to write. However, this is not to say that the book industry hasn’t taken a huge blow the past few years. As far as the printed versions, they will begin to suffer. In today’s world, we are starting to move all print to an online text. There has been a huge advance in online books and downloadable versions on technological devices in the past decade. The book industry is suffering immensely because of this. Publishers won’t stop creating books, they are just now needing to look for something better to distribute and sell. For all we now this change in print media to an online format might change the way we read books forever. Who’s to say that the reading experience might go beyond the text itself and evolve into a much greater experience. For now, only the future and the great minds that work to keep this media alive will be able to make these changes happen before people lose a great interest in books.
If the Magazine Industry hopes to survive in a digital world, it’s going to have to adapt. This isn’t the first time Magazines have had to change in order to keep up with an advancing culture though. In the 40’s and 50’s television was on the rise, and it was becoming more accessible to the average American. And so, advertisers began to shift from more traditional forms of media to this new one, so that they could reach the largest audiences. Magazines were in jeopardy; their only choice was to adapt to the changing times. They did this by creating more specialized magazines for essentially any topic that comes to mind and in doing this they were able to draw in advertisers who were looking to seek a specific audience (Pavlik and McIntosh 86).
When compared to newspapers, magazines may not have to change as quickly to maintain readership. That being said, they are going to have to adapt to the digital world. It seems easy to say that magazines should just publish their content exactly as it is online, but that ignores the fact that the way younger audiences are reading is changing. People are beginning to prefer shorter, more concise stories as opposed to the sprawling feature stories we can find in most magazines. This isn’t true across the board however. Older generations often prefer print media and some magazines are seen as a sort of “status symbol” meaning subscribers will put them on display in their home so that people will notice it. But those exceptions don’t change the fact that there is a problem. Several major magazines have gone out of print in the last decade, such as Cosmo Girl, a once popular magazine that’s now only available online. Fortunately for the industry some magazines are growing in size and every year hundreds of new ones are published, many don’t last, but it’s a sign that people still think there’s interest in the medium. (Pavlik and McIntosh 87-90).
Just like in the 20th century TV is a threat to magazines, along with the internet. Right now, people on average will spend about twenty minutes with magazines while spending around four watching TV and then another two browsing the internet. (Guenther 327-328). It’s a genuine challenge now to get a reader’s attention with all the media they have at their disposal. (Pavlik and McIntosh 89). That being said, magazines are still typically seen as a respected form of media that’s still pulling in impressive audiences. But the shift to digital is relentless and this is where we’ll see which magazines will change with the times and which ones will fall to the wayside. We’re actually in a world now where magazines are aware of this change, but just because they know that they need to adapt doesn’t mean it’s easy. One problem they’re facing during this transition is their relationship with major distributors like Amazon and Apple. The two major issues are how much revenue the distributors will get and how much access they’ll have to customer data. (Guenther 328-329). In such a connected world it’s difficult for companies to keep secrets from the masses and with privacy being such a hot button issue there’s potential for controversy to arise around a newly digital magazine and its privacy policies. (Pavlik and McIntosh 21).
We also have the problem of making magazines that work cohesively on digital devices like tablets and smartphones. Thanks to the differences in software, sizes of devices, and resolutions, it can prove challenging to mass distribute your magazine. There’s the risk here of magazines working so hard to make sure that they’re presentable on so many different devices, that less focus will be placed on actually content. This is why the industry needs to create some sort of standard, which it hasn’t done yet. (Guenther 330).
On the bright side, with the shift to digital environmental concerns pertaining to magazines may begin to fade away. Because of the glossy paper and extensive use of bright colors, the industry has a surprising toll on the environment. With an increasingly digital presence though, the impact shouldn’t be as strong. (Pavlik and McIntosh 89).
The need for print media to change isn’t coming it’s already here and we’re finally beginning to see some of the struggles these three mediums are going through. Thanks to the continuing rise of the digital age and the sheer amount of attention that other forms of media are getting, print media is in trouble. Print book sales are declining thanks to the rise of e-books. Major magazines are losing subscribers and advertisers, often resulting in a complete shift to digital. And newspaper readership is declining rapidly. Plenty of people still enjoy reading print media, but there is a very real shift towards digital. If print media wants to survive it’s going to have to notice the change in how people read and be able to maintain their attention in an increasingly media saturated world (Pavlik and McIntosh 78-90).
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