The newspaper business is taking on a whole new way of doing business. It is becoming increasingly important for newspapers to make themselves available to the growing number of people who want to read the newspapers on the Internet. These newspapers also have a problem with the number of news TV shows that are broadcasting into many living rooms. The newspaper isn’t the big time giant in the news media business anymore. Instead, it is something that is losing steam and has given way to a new era of journalism. With many people finding their news on Facebook in quick glimpses into what is going on, it is difficult to get people to read an article that is usually around 500 words in length. But unlike what many critics say, it isn’t the end of newspapers, though it may be a time to adjust the importance newspapers hold at delivering people the news. Newspapers are able to join other forms of media to communicate to people their daily news. In order to stay profitable, newspaper need to create website so that people can take a look at what is happening in a way that meets their desires.
The main drivers contributing to the high number of people not wanting to read newspapers as much is the availability of news from other sources. These other sources can deliver the news to people much more quickly than what a newspaper could deliver it. Even the top newspapers take at least one day to tell people about what is going on in the world. Small town newspapers are even worse because some of them only deliver their newspapers once per week. But because there is an increasingly technologically savvy population, many people don’t even bother reading their local newspaper. The problem has become even worse because people are able to access the Internet on their phones. So even in the places where newspapers would seem common, like on buses and the skytrain, people can just look at their phone and they’ll get everything they need. The TV has already taken its toll on drawing people away from newspapers. TV news reports on everything in very quick nuggets that people seem to like. The quick and flashy news is a lot more digestible for people and many think it’s a lot more entertaining.
There are people who will always prefer a hardcopy of the newspaper over something that they read off of a screen, or a quicker news report that is broadcast on the TV, but most of those people are a part of an older generation that is dying out. As the general population becomes more aware of what they can do on a smartphone, for example, the less likely they will be to read their newspaper.
It should be pointed out that while newspapers are a niche of media, the niche can be broken into two further categories. These categories are large newspapers and small newspaper. The larger ones would be newspapers like the Globe and Mail, the Province and the Vancouver Sun. Small newspapers would be those that cater to a specific city or town, such as the Abbotsford Times or the Kelowna Courier. These newspapers are often the only source for people to get news that is specific to their communities.
Clay Shirky, who authored the 2008 book “Here Comes Everybody,” and is the New York University professor of new media, said that the Internet changes everything that we know about the news industry. It provides a new playing field that was never there before, and newspapers will be eaten by the always growing Internet that is more massive than what newspapers can deal with. “The Internet undermines traditional news bundling, forever unstitching the necessity of combining disparate content in a single product,” an article from The Telegraph, sums up about Shirky’s book (Telegraph, 2006). This means basically anyone who can make a blog can report news and this is taking away from credible news sources. It also opens the doors to a lot of competition for newspapers. Even if the newspaper has managed to develop a website, there are many others out there who can just as easily post information on the Internet. An individual newspaper would likely have a wider audience than a blogger, for example, but there are so many bloggers out there that they would eat up the newspaper competition. Shirky refers to the fact that there is no “centre” in Internet news, which means there isn’t a head that can be held accountable for the news they are reporting, unless that source is an online newspaper. Also, the news can’t be controlled by the central power and “It can’t be owned.”
The Telegraph Report goes on to mention Rupert Murdoch, who is News Corp chairman, and his belief that he can own and control the media on the Internet. Unlike Shirky, Murdoch thinks there is a centre to the Internet and media giants can control it. He thinks people will be willing to pay to get the news. So basically he wants to offer news stories to people for a fee, which is already happening. Some news sources will offer some of the article for free, but then only subscribers are allowed to take a look at the full version of the article.
Telegraph writer Andrew Keen seems to disagree with Murdoch and sides more with Shirky. Keen compared the Internet to a movie called “The Blob.” He said the Internet is a “blob, a centreless yet all powerful monster, impossible to destroy and yet able to devour everything in its path.” In other words, he says the Internet can’t be controlled, and individuals throughout the world will have equal ability to post information on it… and a company can’t buy that right away.
Time Magazine points out another deterrent for people looking for a more convenient way to get their news: newspapers are often left outside of doorsteps, wet and in the freezing cold. Computers, however, are inside next to a hot cup of coffee. Why would someone step outside to riffle through their newspaper, when they have what they need on top of their desk? (Time, 2006). A counter argument to this assumption, which was previously mentioned in passing during the introduction, is that many people who have grown up reading the newspaper won’t feel as comfortable reading from a screen. But young people are becoming increasingly good at reading and comprehending information from the Internet. Every update their friends post on Facebook or Twitter is continually training young people how to read on their computer screens. The process is seamless for them, but it could be challenging to those who are used to holding a newspaper and reading the text.
Time Magazine also points out that newspapers are losing their classifieds advertisements to websites like Craigslist and Google (Fox, 2012). Display advertising is also going towards the web. In order to get a piece of this action, newspapers must move online to have display advertisements there. However, it would be difficult to attract people away from the efficient and free Craiglist platform. But, as the Times article points out, it costs money to print a newspaper. Websites cost money too, but placing the news content onto a webpage doesn’t require constant printing of thousands of issues and then paying a paper boy or girl to deliver them to the people’s front doors.
According to The Bivings Group, which released a report in 2007 about whether the Internet is a risk or opportunity, the Internet is both an enemy and a friend to newspapers. While there is increasing competition from the news suppliers on the Internet, the medium allows newspapers to broaden their scope by placing their own content online. It will be the newspapers with the savvy to move online that will survive. The research report stated about 96 of the top 100 United States newspapers included in the study were online in 2007. Ninety-two per cent of the websites provide video. At the time, 29 per cent of the newspapers required people to subscribe; three of them required a paid subscription (Bivings, 2007).
This research indicates that successful newspapers need to be online to be successful. This research is relatively recent, but the reader can assume the stats of newspapers going online are more now than it was in 2007. Even just the 2007 stats indicate that to be a top newspaper, a company needs to move online. Even further, though, a newspaper needs to be consistent with the various features the website could have, such as video, reporter blogs, advertisements and mobile compatibility. “The use of online tools such as video, podcasts, and blogs supplements the information readers can obtain in a printed newspaper and helps publications evolve away from the ‘online repository’ format – where newspaper websites provide regurgitated story content from print editions – and move toward a more full-featured model of news (Bivings, 2007).
An additional point that none of the research turned up is the digestibility of Internet news. Many people aren’t exactly savvy readers, and some might say the reading level of the general population is decreasing. Newspaper articles use proper English, which is becoming less common. Instead of using acronyms, such as “LOL,” a reporter might write something like, “she said, while laughing.” This is far more straining for a person who is used to reading concise language printed in simple and more conversational form.
Several companies have found their move to the online platform to be a successful move, but there are still some lingering effects of the overall impact the Internet has had on newspapers. While all of the advertising revenue for newspapers in the Postmedia chain was once from newspapers, it was only 63 per cent in 2011. Which means the company has managed to generate 37 per cent of its advertising revenue online. As part of the Postmedia chain, the Vancouver Sun update its website almost immediately after a story breaks. This is the same for the Globe and Mail, which is the most-read newspaper in Canada. Both of these major newspapers follow the same process to have people reading the material. The writing on the websites is slightly different than what is in the newspaper: It is much easier to read for the average person. There is quick glimpses into what the story is about and they don’t go into it too deeply. If people want to keep reading, they can click on the article. The websites also have many videos that people can watch it they don’t want to read. The newspapers have attracted advertisers to the website. These are major advertisers that likely pay a lot of money, such as TD Bank, which has a banner ad on the top of the Vancouver Sun home page. The Vancouver Sun also has flyers for different companies that people can click on, but this is an area where the Globe and Mail could maybe add. The websites also have room for people to comment, which gets the readers involved with the newspaper, and allows them to contribute to the conversations. Only the Vancouver Sun website has a blog. This is something that could likely be added to the Globe and Mail because the blog can help engage people more. A blog eliminates the traditional way newspapers report, which is completely unbiased and can be quite dry for many readers.
Moving online and to smartphones is almost a necessity to larger newspapers that have higher expectations than small newspapers. The companies with the financial resources can move online with little cost. As these newspapers cut sales, editorial and accounting positions, for example, they can concentrate on hiring website designers and people to maintain the sites. It’s also important for businesses to optimize their search results. Many executives say three things need to be considered: big data and analytics, digital marketing, social media tools and cloud computing and mobility (McKinsey, 2012). If a company wants to go online, they only need to pay attention to some of the factors that people want. For example, they should change their style of writing to cater to an online audience that expects more flashy, simple and conversational writing. This will appeal to the growing number of technologically savvy people.
It certainly remains to be seen about whether newspapers are going to stop printing. It is likely a matter of whether they are able to adjust to the pressure put onto them by the Internet. There should be a separation between whether newspapers are going to stop being printed and if newspaper companies are going to cease existing: As this paper has demonstrated, there are companies that have managed to pull their socks up and adjust with the times to an online platform, while others will go bankrupt because they were unable to adjust to the changing times.
Fox, J. (2012, June 14). Why Newspapers Were Doomed All Along. HBR Blog Network
Keen, A. (2009, Oct. 8) The internet will devour newspapers. The Telegraph.
Kinsley, M. (2006, Sept. 25). Do Newspapers Have a Future? Time Magazine U.S.
McKinsey Quarterly. (2012, May). Minding your digital business: McKinsey Global Survey
The Bivings Group. (2007, July 19). American Newspapers and the Internet: Threat or