Impact of Internet on the Newspaper industry
The world today is in the middle of a technological revolution that has transformed how things are done. Of the recent technological advancements, Internet has had the greatest impact of how communication, which is at the core of the development of business, is conveyed. The working of most businesses has either been affected positively or negatively depending on how they have chosen to adapt to the changes that have been brought about by the new technology. Those businesses that have chosen to view the technology as necessary and have put structures within themselves to cope have continued to reap great benefits from the new development, yet those ones that have refused to change and still cling to the traditional modes of business have seen their bottom-lines dwindle and are ever facing the threat of extinction. (Chris Lapham)
The newspaper industry has been greatly affected by the phenomenal growth of the Internet and “the use new digital formats in the press industry has produced a real revolution in the concept of the basic product of their activity.” (Carlos F & Raquel G) The traditional purpose of newspapers has remained reporting of news events on local and international issues and educating the masses about various pertinent issues regarding the aspects of the society.
The Internet on its part has also “cannibalized” and transformed this mode of news transmission, whereby reporting news events across the world is “click away”. For those newspaper companies that have chosen to adapt to this new method, they have gone ahead and reinvented themselves in such away that the news items available on the physical newspaper are available electronically as well. The digitized version of the newspaper has added values which greatly enhance the information provided. The electronic version besides reaching a wider local and international audience, it is easily and cheaply transmitted. (Carlos F & Raquel G)
One of the greatest advantages of Internet use is that it has the ability to combine the advantages that are provided by radio, press and television; “it provides the immediacy of the radio, the wide and deep information offered by the press and the impact offered by the television”. (Carlos F & Raquel G) This has completely opened a new horizon in the journalism sector. The internet as an advertisement tool has the ability to capture a wider audience and being interactive by nature is the preferred choice of advertisement. (Carlos F & Raquel G)
The advantages that Internet offers has therefore brought a major revolution in the journalism sector where greater and better opportunities have been created that have enabled the newsprint media directly interact with its users. At the same time the use of the Internet allows the prompt update of news as they happen turning it to be a very popular source of news items. (Carlos F & Raquel G)
Research has continued to indicate that among most of the Internet users, digital newspapers and news sites are the most visited websites, and in the U.S alone, about 80% of the Internet users prefer reading online news and one in every 3 Internet users have visited the sites. Other studies have revealed that about 83.7% of the Internet users browse with the main aim of accessing “breaking news and search for up-to-the minute information”. (Chris Lapham) Phenomenal growth is anticipated and the readership is expected to exceed the conventional way of accessing news items. (Carlos F & Raquel G)
Today it is more difficult to attract the younger generation under the age of 50 years to read the newspaper. The younger generations have been provided with a more convenient form of newspaper that can be accessed on the laptop. The advantage that this has is that one has the freedom to select what they want to read and is spared the hassles of accumulating unnecessary waste material in the form of waste paper. Therefore the future of the newspaper seems to be very bleak unless they do something to reinvent themselves. (Chris Lapham)
The biggest question today that the newspaper industry has continued to ponder about is whether the industry has any future especially at the advert of the Internet and the lack of interest portrayed by the younger generation; is the newspaper dying a slow and sure death?
However the task of the industry reinventing itself is a tall order indeed and the industry is faced with a turbulent future if the taste of the future generation is anything to go by. Today’s young people opt for a media that is sophisticated rather than the usual morning ritual of the newspaper. The world is also experiencing what would be termed as an “information explosion that threatens to bury even the most avid reader and intellectual”. (Chris Lapham)
The audience now has access to a greater amount of information that is stored in “digital bytes” and available for vast distances in a very short notice. Previously vast spaces in libraries were used to fill them with books and reading materials; all these now are digitized. All these development means that more information is readily available much more quickly than ever before. (Chris Lapham)
Throughout history the traditional role of the newspaper has been to help people understand the world around them. Therefore “newspapers have excelled at collecting recording and distributing information to various other destinations”. The newspaper industry during this moment therefore is called upon to evolve, commensurate to the technological advancement that the world is witnessing today.
It is worth noting that the future of the newspaper industry can only be secured by the industry embracing differentiation in the products offered to the market. Whilst the electronic newspaper version has a fair share of advantages, the printed version on its part has an equal inherent advantage that cannot be erased or wished away. Not everyone fully embraces the electronic version of the newspaper as advanced as it is. Many newspaper websites are full of pop ups that sometimes can greatly hinder the easy readership. Advertising in the print newspaper has the advantage of being easily noticeable and the advertiser is assured that the advert is accessible to the intended market. (Chris Lapham)
Currently the answer to the future of the newspaper lies in the ability to define what news is and as observed in the New York Times Magazine by Max Frankel a renowned journalist:
“The newspapers that prosper in the next century will be the ones that offer the best journalism and acquire the talent and expertise to appraise and explain any infinite variety events….. Newspaper can trust the fermenting computer industry to perfect the technologies that will gradually replace their presses and delivery tracks. Its talent that they will need to survive in the digital age…. gifted editors, reporters and image artists who can find meaning in the approaching information glut” (Chris Lapham)
So how can an industry that needs to change take advantage of the dynamic state- of-the- art technology? For the industry to survive, it has to implement certain pertinent measures. These measurers include;
Improve the material content by using technology
This is the most important measures that the industry can take advantage of. The use of computer and communication technology has the capacity to improve not only news delivery, but research and processes in news gathering as well. In the previous model of one- to- many the information flow came from the top which s is quite different from the internet news. Here news “bubbles up from the bottom and meanders its way upward”. (Chris Lapham) The new models offered by the internet gives the journalists the chance to interact with his/her audience enabling them know them better.
The internet therefore adds value to the content of the dissemination of news because it supports the enhancement of the core competencies of the competitive news industry. Advanced research, advanced reporting and advanced analysis remain the hallmarks of the most competitive news Medias and the Internet offers than any other.
New technology therefore enables the newspaper industry face the future with great enthusiasm because the Internet is not by any means a threat to the industry but a means by which the news medias can seek to differentiate the products they offer to the clientele.
Chris Lapham: The Evolution of the Newspaper of the Future: Accessed on 6th June 2008 from http://www.ibiblio.org/cmc/mag/1995/jul/lapham.html
Carlos Flavián and Raquel Gurrea: The impact of the Internet on press sector:
New possibilities of digital press versus traditional press: Journal of Internet Banking and Commerce, December 2006, vol. 11, no.3 Accessed on 6th June 2008 from http://www.arraydev.com/commerce/jibc/