The media which is commonly referred to as the fourth estate is one of the most dynamic fields. This is especially in the wake of technological developments and the availability of internet in virtually every household. The main stream media which is television and newspapers is now finding it necessary to make several adjustments to be able to survive in a now highly competitive industry as consumers find alternative ways of getting news. (Varian 2000)
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The internet is becoming an increasingly important source of news for many people both young and old. The discussion looks at some of the issues that the use of internet for news raises for traditional newspapers. The discussion will also look at some of the strategies that media enterprises especially those that specialise in point are employing to build and sustain willing readership in the future.
Since the emergence of technology and internet in particular, most people are now able to access news as soon as they happen. This has led to lack of motivation for a wide readership from buying newspapers which take some time before they can report in issues (Meyer 2004). Most of the readers are now finding the news in newspapers somewhat stale considering that the news on the internet is instant, fresh and immediate.
The coming of new media and interactive forms of communication blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms has made it easy for audiences to choose what kind of information and how to get it (Li 2006) This is unlike in the past where a large audience had heavy dependence on the mainstream and sort of shared in terms of interests the kind of news they wanted.
Observers have noted that readership of newspapers has been on the decline as more people seem to have a preference on the emerging technology which is not only instant in delivery of news but also more interactive (Franklin 2009).This kind of method of accessing news is a two way form of communication so that even the audience have a say regarding what is happening.
The traditional newspaper on the other has not been able to offer this kind of benefit so that it remains a one way kind of communication where the media gives the information on what is happening without an opportunity to their audience to make responses on their opinions about a given issues (Wurff & Lauf 2005).
The rate at which the popularity of traditional newspapers is declining is quite alarming. Print media practitioners have now resulted into drastic measures to ensure that they survive the storm that is internet. One measure that has been taken is to limit the amount of content that gets posted online (Sylvie 2002).
This means if a newspaper has an online edition, the latter is condensed with only a few big stories being published. This means readers will still need to buy a hardcopy of the newspaper to read other stories. In addition the stories that posted online are very shallow. This is done on purpose so that a reader still finds it necessary to buy a newspaper to get an in-depth perspective of any given story.
Another method that newspaper enterprises have embraced is using internet to their advantage. The electronic media was the first to face threats as a result of emergence of news content in the internet (Kung 2008). However, this type of media was able to identify in good time the pitfalls as well as the opportunities that exist in the internet. As a result they were able to blend their services with those of the internet.
The result was that instead the electronic media being forced to close shop due to the internet, it was made more effective. The print media has also learned the secret that “if you cannot beat them, join them.” Therefore they have learned it is no use fighting the internet which is obviously overpowering them. Instead, they are using the internet hand in hand with the actual newspaper to provide even a more in-depth coverage of stories than they were doing before.
Utilising the internet to the full may also mean that the newspapers may have the entire copy of the newspaper posted online including the advertisements (Baran & Davis 2008). Most big advertisers had begun pulling out from hard copy newspapers citing decline in readership of the same. However, if advertisers are assured that their advertisements will be posted online where most people are accessing the news then they will have no problem giving the advertisements to the newspapers.
Print media analysts have also cited a misconception in the whole issue of internet being a threat to the print media. They argue that it is the paper method that will become extinct and not the news of print media. It is therefore argued it is the method that will fade and not the quality of the news that has always been provided in the print news. Looking at it from that angle, it no longer is a threat but an opportunity for change which guarantees quality content for newspaper readers.
Adjustment of prices will also go a long way in ensuring that traditional newspapers still survive even if the internet seems to have gained popularity (Franklin 2008). The newspaper companies can decide to revise the prices of newspapers downwards. By so doing, newspapers will still command a relative wide readership considering that is not every person who has access to internet connectivity.
Again, not all people have the relevant skills to access the internet especially in the developing countries so that such people will still depend on newspapers for news. Newspapers may also consider lowering the rates at which they charge for their advertisements. If they place their rates lower than what the internet is offering, most advertisers will prefer to have their advertisements on newspapers which will be a cheaper option for them than the internet.
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Being able to ensure that the internet does not totally cripple and kill the print media industry is a merely a battle of wits (Allan 2006). What the print media enterprises need to do is look for opportunities that the internet is providing as well as look for loopholes on what the internet is not able to provide and maximise on those loopholes to ensures that readers of newspapers have a reason to buy newspapers despite the fact there is content available on the internet.
This battle has been fought for long and even though the readership and volume of sales for newspapers have declined, it is not all lost. If the print media can begin looking at the internet more as a partner who helps complement what the print is not able to offer than an enemy, then there is likelihood for them to survive the threat of internet.
Allan, S. (2006) Online news: journalism and the internet. California: Mc-Graw Hill International
Baran, S.J. & Davis, D.K. (2008) Mass communication theory: foundations, ferment, and future. London: Cengage Learning
Franklin, B. (2008) Pulling newspapers apart: analysing print journalism. New York: Routledge
Franklin, B. (2009) The future of newspapers. New York: Routledge
Kung, L. (2008) Threat of Internet to Mass Media. London: Sage
Li, X. (2006 Internet newspapers: the making of a mainstream medium. New York: Routledge
Meyer, P. (2004) The varnishing newspaper: saving journalism in the information age. Missouri: University of Missouri Press.
Sylvie, G. (2002) Time, change and the American newspaper. London: Sage
Varian, H.R. (2000) Internet publishing and beyond. London: MIT Press
Wurff, R., & Lauf, E. (2005) Print and online newspapers in Europe: a comparative analysis in 16 countries. London: Het Spinhuis