Thinking of the number of times you see a newspaper in someone’s hands compared to a cell phone or a computer mouse, the difference seems immense. Many people are convinced that the art of journalism is dead.
Looking deeper into the delivery of news, it’s clear that journalism is merely changing to keep up with technological demands of the 20th century.
The rumored death of “print” journalism was created with the help of financial difficulties of newspapers, according to Charlotte Grimes, the Knight Chair in Political Reporting at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
“What’s really dying — or is at least very unhealthy — is the old business-model of supporting journalism through selling advertisements in the newspaper, magazine, or TV or radio stations,” Grimes said. “That’s just not profitable anymore. And we haven’t yet figured out a new, strong support for financing the journalism and the profits that owners and stockholders are accustomed to getting.”
The reason for these financial issues lies in the hands of advertisers and new technology, according to Rex Smith, editor and vice president of the Times Union. “So as newspapers sell fewer copies, they get less revenue from that; as advertisers find more options for getting their message out, they’re buying fewer newspaper ads, too,” Smith said.
But does this mean it’s the end of print journalism?
“No, print journalism is not dying. It is evolving from paper to pixels,” Grimes said. Some papers charge for online viewings to obtain other sources of profits, expecting Web views of news to increase. The changes are considered in many ways be a positive change for news delivery.
Electronic news is cheaper, avoiding costs of printing and delivery trucks. “On the web, for example, we can have interactive maps showing where important things are happening, or video that lets the audience see first-hand the protests in Egypt, or databases that let people search for details on government spending,” Grimes said.
The danger of this, Smith said, is in the use of unreliable sources for facts. People need to see the differences in a trusted news source and other things such as public relations and other forms of communication, he said.
“Talk radio isn’t journalism,” he continued, “and you can’t take what you hear there as true any more than you can assume that a store catalog will tell you everything you need to know about a product’s quality.”
Smith and Grimes agree that technology requires us all to be aware of what is news and what is entertainment. They also agree that journalism is not dead.
“We’re in the news business, not the paper business, and the news business has as bright a future as it ever did,” said Smith.