In 1979, the Buggles informed the world that video killed the radio star. Now, the question facing our generation is whether blogging will kill the newspaper star. As the catchy pop song taught us, the golden age of technology past is inevitably swept away for the glitz and glamour of the new.
In terms of print newspapers, this is beginning to ring eerily true. Even some of the most established newspaper conglomerates aren’t immune to the effects of online news sources. The New York Times, for example, has experienced a series of layoffs, increased prices at the newsstand, decreased readership, and stock market woes.
Amid this kind of turmoil, the diminished quality of print papers becomes somewhat understandable. Just because you have fewer staff members doesn’t mean there is less work to complete. This situation quickly results in overworked employees and an inevitable downturn in output quality. And why would talented, independent thinking writers and editors want to jump onto a sinking ship? They’re taking their employment (and their interesting stories) to more profitable endeavors.
And all of these effects come on the heels of an increased interest and readership in online news sources.
As the news moves viral, there are two major ways that print mediums just can’t compete—money and availability. In terms of dollars and cents, people are hesitant to pay for a service that they can get free through their laptop. This simple fact could account for a good chunk of lost readership.
And the other edge is perhaps even more detrimental to print papers. Online news sources have a constant stream of up-to-the-minute news alerts. Stories are being posted across the web every minute of every day. Newspapers, on the other hand, have one shot, once a day. And for many laptop junkies, hour old news has already become stale news.
Another unexpected event pushing out the newspaper is its dissonance with a “go green” attitude. That is, people are becoming more and more hesitant to support an institution that, day in and day out, requires a tremendous amount of downed trees. The wireless media outlets are simply more eco-friendly, and in this day and age, that’s a very attractive label to possess.
The fate of print papers remains to be seen, but perhaps the final nail in the newspaper coffin is that even the largest stigma surrounding online news sources is beginning to dissipate. While articles found online used to be suspect at best, blogs and online news outlets have gained a surprising amount of credibility in a short time. Signifying a turning tide, even journalists are turning to established blogs in order to do research for stories that end up on the front page of print papers.
I wouldn’t expect newspapers to disappear from our doorsteps anytime soon. But the younger generation isn’t going to be the “younger generation” forever. Their preference for online news may just eventually become the standard, and then it will be goodbye newspaper star.