NPR: On the Media – Newspapers and Their Uncertain Future

I’ve previously spoken about newspapers and their possible extinction, and this NPR podcast tends to agree with me, but offers a few interesting insights into the trends or causes of the newspaper’s decline.

One point made is that while some newspapers have gone out of business, they typically did so only in places where they had competition. The real worries would be if there were areas that suddenly had no newspapers to speak of, but that is not the case.

Readership of newspapers, unlike printed sales, is not suffering, due mainly to online versions of the newspapers that allow everyone to read the content for only the cost of the advertising on the sites. In some cases, this is allowing the readership to soar to previously unseen levels, though monetarily the newspaper may still suffer.

The problem could very well be that for a long time, the newspaper industry thought that the newspaper industry was doing just fine as it was, and saw no need to change anything. That was apparently false, and dramatic changes are needed to help the newspaper survive the coming years of technological advancement.

On another note, the newspaper industry as a whole will likely require some heavy rebranding if they are to revolutionize their industry sufficiently to survive. There are changes to be made, potentially to the extremes of eliminating print completely and taking newspapers to totally electronic media, making the newspaper a luxury for the wealthy, the persistent, or maybe just the snobbish.  If these changes are to become effective, the whole industry needs to change the public’s view of it. If we still see newspapers as ugly pulp paper and cheap newsprint, we’ll likely not bite whatever new hooks they come up with. If we can start to see newspapers as interactive electronic medium that effectively and concisely informs us of the world from our mobile devices, at low cost to us, then the newspaper could take on a new life with its new and necessary form, having shown us its value once more.

How would you like to see newspapers change in the coming years?

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