Friday, February 23, 2024

Print Media versus Online News Sites

Newspapers The question has been discussed widely in print media industry, especially in newspaper industry that, whether the print media will be able to survive in this new era of advance technologies, where online news sites, blogs and new aggregator website are taking over the market.

Today, most of the news we see and hear are available free of cost. Blogs run on open source software platforms or running very low cost hosting servers are making a lot of difference. Such open source free softwares have made ordinary people into full fledged journalists and they are reaching the people in their homes. Blogs and news aggregator sites are publishing contents more quickly, they have more space available, and they let the user directly interact with the stories by leaving comments and replying to other people’s comments. Rich media contents, such as photos, videos and sideshow are easily available which provide enough deep insight into the story to understand what’s really going on. Advance social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook have added more versatility by providing easy access, reading, distributing and sharing the contents. Nowadays people can read the top stories while on their way to their office through their cell phones.

Magazines All this advancement raise the question, why the people will consider worthy to pay for the news and contents when they have access to free sources and these free resources are offering them to join and enjoy their free services.

In the matter of books verses online resources of information such as Wikipedia and Google Books, the same question was raised a few years back. In the beginning publishers were concerned about their investments that these free sources of information will ruin them. Though it has affected the publishing industry a little bit, but copyrights publishing laws have made a great contribution in creating an atmosphere of balance between old and new. Now these online publishing sites are limited to publish the old contents and the contents which have no copyrights, such as national, cultural and scientific histories, health information, tutorials, stories, myths, open source articles and general contents which were getting rotten in the libraries and a fewer number of people were interested in them. And the new books and publishing material is held classified under copyright safety for a substantial period, after which these will be available publically free of cost to everybody.

Online News But what about the News Industry, how can they make themselves secure, as they can not use the method of books and copyrighted content publishers, as their contents are only worthy when these are new and fresh. Infact, news industry wants their content to be absorbed as quickly as possible and more people to get it, of course by buying their material in the form of newspapers and magazines. But the question is, why people will buy the newspapers and magazines, when can get the same news free of cost on other sources.

The major revenue of newspapers and magazines comes from advertisements in the Classifieds sections and within the news pages. This source of income is also going away, as there are online advertisement sites and services, which provide relatively cheap and broader viewable advertisements opportunities, such as Google Ad Choice, Yahoo and MSN Ads, Craigslist Classifieds and many other privately owned enterprises.

News on phone The job wanted ads and recruitment ads is another source of newspapers and magazines, but since the arrival of online job sites, such as, and many more online jobs sites which are providing extremely efficient service to their users, the business has been divided at huge level. These online sites are playing so good that even the newspapers had to thing about making their own websites for online job search and many have followed the trend.

Well, honestly speaking, in Pakistan as a third world country with a very low literacy rate, majority of people is not familiar with these technologies, which are why newspapers print media here is flourishing. But let’s look at the bigger picture. The scenario is not very same if we see in western world. Their newspapers and magazines print media is in deep trouble. Many big and old news publishing institutes have been gone into bankruptcy. From American newspapers industry alone The Rocky Mountain News (150 year old organization), Philadelphia Daily News and Star Tribune, The Boston Globe and San Francisco Chronicles, Seattle Post Intelligence and many more went into bankruptcy. They say that they can’t compete in the business because of electronic news distribution networks and TV channels.

A very few newspaper and magazines have been able to sustain their status by either acquiring new technologies on their own or establishing partnership and cooperation with giant online news hubs, and now the rest of the crowd is also following this trend. Some newspapers publishing enterprises have started their own TV channels, but a very hand full number of TV channels have thought about managing a print publishing setup as an alternate.

There are some newspapers and publishing institutes which are still alive solely on their print publishing material, New York Times and Wall Street Journal are two of them. These institutes still have not considered managing their own specific electronic media channel. They are distributing all their news through their print publishing sources.

The daily New York Times is running successful without any setback and their stock market shares graph is always stable. In the beginning, in order to create balance with the overall industry, they established collaborations with electronic medias, but many electronic media channels started depending on their online news resources and online news aggregator sites started copying their stories and interpreting these further in detail with comments added, and then engaging readers by providing the opportunity of commenting and criticizing on these stories.

This situation was very embarrassing for NYT, as their readers were cutting of from them which obviously meant losing income. Since the viewers had no idea about the original source of the news so they were attracted to the more bedazzling online news sites. The NYT had came up with an intelligent and yet risky solution. They put a restriction on their website, that when a visitor hit the website, he can only see a specific numbers of news stories free of cost, after that he had to pay for the more contents, insights and more news stories. Now the users have two sources of NYT, their printed newspaper and their website, but for both they have to spend some money to get the insights. This was a risky tactic. Their strategy was question marked and criticized by all electronic media and general public. Despite of all the criticism they have not changed it and it is still applied. Infact, now it has worked for them and the readers had to come back to them as their stories were close to reality, well narrated and profoundly structured, with full of details.

This has proved that print media can survive and live healthy even with toughest competition of being sabotaged by electronic media. All they need to do is, provide readers the true facts, heart touching, and helpful material and the reader will stick with the source.

People want to know what’s going on around them and how their lives will be affected by that. In the end all that matters is how deeply and how meaningfully you provide the information. Because some one have to go to the war zone to collect the pictures of soldiers, situations of war, victims of war, the reaction of civil society, response and reaction of neighboring counties, etc. Majority of online news sites, especially social networking sites certainly cannot do that. They are left behind for discussions and comments only.

Journalism means investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to audience in a timely manner. The idea is to inform the audience, along with covering organizations and institutions including governments, the true facts, without any fabrication, rationally and nothing shall be hidden unless it is destructive for the society.


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