Like many college students, Anirudh Sivaram, a sophomore at Yale University, accesses most of his news online.
“BBC is my big source,” he said.
Dash Turner, another Yale sophomore, also likes BBC. He cited CNN Online as his most frequented news source.
Sivaram and Turner embody a tech-savvy generation of media consumers: young people more likely to share their favorite columns and articles on Facebook or Reddit than pass a newspaper clip among friends. Much has been said of the decline of print journalism — the death of local newspapers, the rise of Twitter and Tumblr, the popularity of blogs and digital-only news websites. But the discussion of print media’s decline often belies a critical reality: The amount of net media consumption, in reality, has remained fairly constant.
According to numbers released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the average circulation of daily newspapers in the United States has slipped only 0.2% in the past six months. The report tracked 613 newspapers nationwide, including the nation’s three most widely circulated dailies: The Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY and The New York Times.
The figures, however, include digital versions of the paper, including “those on tablet computers or websites that charge for access.” This grouping likely means that while the popularity of online newspapers is increasing — think the New York Times online and its iconic Ben Bernanke paywall — consumers are less likely to subscribe to a regular print paper.
Trends like these made headlines this October when Newsweek, the popular newsmagazine known for its long and storied history, announced it would transition to an all-digital format in 2013.
“Currently, 39 percent of Americans say they get their news from an online source,” wrote Tina Brown, the future editor-in-chief of Newsweek Global and founder of The Daily Beast, in the magazine’s official announcement. “It is important that we underscore what this digital transition means and, as importantly, what it does not.”
“We are transitioning Newsweek, not saying goodbye to it,” she added.
In a Harvard Crimson editorial, the Crimson’s staff questioned Brown’s motivation for transitioning to digital media, arguing that Newsweek’s poor writing quality — not financial considerations – prompted the switch.
“In the wake of the 2010 Newsweek-Daily Beast merger, the magazine,” wrote the students, “relied on increasingly pithless and provocative covers.” The magazine’s print edition, they added, could not be sustained by a model that emphasized titillating headlines over serious journalism.
Other reactions were more blunt, focusing on the print media industry as a whole.
“Print media is unsustainable,” said Sivaram, the Yale sophomore. “People will just get their news for free.”
Various kinds of technology and social media, Sivaram said, have worked to make free news a norm, rather than an exception. Furthermore, he said he believes the amount of competition — or rather, over-competition — in the news industry has driven out firms.
What kinds of print media will take Newsweek’s place, then? Sivaram believes print media run by conglomerates will rise in importance, citing Rupert Murdoch’s proposed takeover of The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune as evidence.
Turner, however, maintains that newspapers still have their place.
“I read feature articles in the newspaper,” he said. “That’s what newspapers are suited for in today’s world.” But though newspapers might have a particular purpose, Turner still believes online media is the future.
“Finding out about significant world events a day after they occur doesn’t need to happen in today’s world, so why should it?”
Powered by Facebook Comments