Newspapers are Dying, but the Future of Journalism isn’t Grim

Since the creation of the Internet, smartphones, and cable television, the nature of journalism has changed drastically. For newspapers, this means people are not relying on them as a sole source of information anymore. Although the Internet is forcing papers out of business and costing people their jobs, it poses a challenge for journalists to step up their game and come up with new ways to tell a story.

On Wednesday, September 28th, we lost one more print newspaper: the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. This closure now makes Pittsburgh another one-paper city. Trib Total Media announced that it would stop publishing print editions of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh’s second largest daily newspaper.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the remaining newspaper in Pittsburgh, this decision resulted in laying-off 106 people and was the final step in budget cuts that have been happening during the past year. They are consolidating all of their content to an online format.

The Tribune-Review is just one of many newspapers that have stopped print production. The Independent did as well, while the Tampa Tribune was bought out by its rival, and the Baltimore Examiner and Cincinnati Post closed for good. Regardless of its current status, each ended its printing following the internet revolution.  

There is a blog online called the Newspaper Death Watch, that has a running list of newspapers going out of business. On the website, it says they are, “Chronicling the Decline of Newspapers and the Rebirth of Journalism.” It all sounds dramatic, but the research shows that they are not that far off.

The New York Times released a graphic in 2011 visually comparing the circulation numbers of papers across the country. And with each paper, they showed the net percentage change in circulations and represented that change with a color gradient. Almost all of the papers, with the exception of a few, have decreased their circulation numbers. It’s clear that the graphic would be listing many more newspapers in the red today.

Pew Research Center found that since 2004, there are one hundred fewer daily newspapers, newsroom employment is on a steady decline from 2007 (it went from 52,600 employees to 32,900 employees) and newspaper circulation has declined for a second consecutive year.

And on top of that, Gallup just released a poll saying that American trust in the media is at an all time low. Only 32 percent of Americans say they have “a great deal” of trust in the media.

But there might still be hope for newspapers. In the same study, Pew also found that the most popular way of reading a newspaper among readers is still print only.

But what does this all mean for an aspiring journalist? That there will be no jobs available for me out of college? That people do not trust the media anyway, so why bother? That the entire industry will change so much in the next two years, it will not be recognizable?

Yes, the industry and the audience is changing and I am not the first to acknowledge that. There is so much stimulation with television and the Internet that it has become increasingly difficult to get people interested in the news. I see this all as a challenge to future journalists and news organizations to find new mediums to tell stories–and many news organizations have already done that.

Vox has developed a platform that explains the news without having to read all the articles leading up to it and following it religiously. This directly addresses the issue that people do not have a lot of time to read the news. Vox makes it so you could read one article and understand the entire issue.

Right now, I open up Snapchat and CNN, the Wall Street Journal, ESPN and BuzzFeed all have a Snapchat with different stories that they have curated and produced specifically for people on Snapchat. They keep people interested because of their interactiveness and visual nature.

All of the news outlets now have their own Twitter accounts and are constantly tweeting breaking news so people can see it instantly. Because of the Internet, the news cycle is constant and Twitter caters perfectly to that constant nature. The goal of news organizations is to keep people engaged and reading – and the Internet had helped that.

Although the newspaper business is not as booming as it once was, its shortcomings have forced journalists to think outside of the box and to find new ways to inform and captivate audiences. This is an opportunity for young journalists to get creative with technology and take advantage of everything that it has to offer.

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