Monday, October 25, 2010

Week 8: Journalism

This week's readings and video painted a depressing portrait of just how far print media, like newspapers, has fallen by the wayside with the rise of the Internet. It made me realize how much my newspaper use has dropped, too. Until I went off to college, my parents received a daily newspaper, the Post-Crescent, and a small twice-weekly local paper, The Kaukauna Times-Villager, and I read them passionately. In fact, I had to pause reading the Nichols article so I could make sure that the Times-Villager is still publishing. (It is!) Watched the evening news with my parents every night. While we had a dial-up internet connection, my parents always opted to read the paper.

After I left for college and embraced high-speed internet, I couldn't afford a newspaper subscription, so I got all my news online. Whenever my college released a newspaper, I'd read it, but I knew that I could always read it online later. This pattern has stayed with me since. As part one of the Frontline video mentioned, 20-30 year olds don't watch the evening news; they just get it online, and I agree. In an effort to combat this, my old school teamed up with a couple of newspapers (USA Today, Leader Telegram, Wall Street Journal) and gave them out free for a few weeks. As far as I know, it heightened interest in newspapers for a time, but I don't know how effective giving out free newspapers to college students really was.

Reading these articles left me without much hope for print newspapers. I really want the print format to last, but the convenience of getting news online and watching cable news shows like The Daily Show seems like newspapers will continue to slide until the funding and interest re-appears. My family and I have noticed how skinny the newspaper has become in the past few years, and they lament that fact. I liked the suggestion in the Nichols article about slashing shipping costs for newspapers who make less than 20% of their funding from advertising. Strategies like that are a good start to saving newspapers, but I don't know how much that will help.

5 comments:

  1. This week's material did indeed paint a depressing picture. I found the Frontline pieces very informative and engaging. One of the most compelling bits of info I took from this week's material is that newspaper journalism was originally framed as "a public trust." However, like so much else in American culture, the $$ is the bottom line.

    Maybe because I'm an older student (hate to use that as a reason), I'm still a big consumer of print newspapers and try to read 3 national papers each day. It's part of my daily ritual, which I very much enjoy. I know there are others, too, as our library's reading room is filled each day with people grabbing the "dailys."

    Crystal alluded above to The Daily Show, a favorite of mine along with The Colbert Report and other smart satire. Jon Stewart himself stated that he thinks it's unfortunate that consumers perceive his show as "news" as that was never its intent.

    This week's material was complex and interesting; I think I would've benefited from a face-to-face discussion of all that we read and viewed.

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  2. Kathy (and Crystal!), I also love to read the actual print paper. I get the headlines in my email, but I feel like I miss out on a lot of stuff if I don't read the print copy. I can't say whether or not print newspapers will exist in 20 years, but I'm hoping they do (just like I hope printed books will be around!).

    I felt that the Death of a Newspaper article was very political more so than stating the facts of a dying journalism world. And when he mentioned the government taking control of the newspaper world, I was angered that he would even suggest that. I agree with him about the freedom of press/speech. The government should not have control over the newspapers. But I'm not going to go into detail and rant and rave over a political issue.

    Overall, the articles were interesting and I'm really hoping that newspapers do not go out of "style".

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  3. It’s a shame, but I never read the paper. The only contact I have with print news is when I organize them and put the papers on the display at the library each morning first thing at work. I get all my news from the internet – mostly BBC and various YouTubers who have news shows including Sxephill, The Young Turks, and others. My folks watch many hours of the evening news on TV and surprisingly enough, I often know more about the stories then they do…is it that the internet is more accurate because those who do journalism on YouTube are not in it for the money (passion trumps paycheck)? I wonder…

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  4. I have to say that I am very much in the same boat as LibraryRPGamer (great name by the way), I have never regularly read any newspaper and, as much as I do enjoy reading them in waiting rooms and common areas and libraries while I am waiting for a meeting to start or for someone to show up, I do not have any plans to start reading newspapers regularly in the future. I too have experienced situations where someone (often my father-in-law, who subscribes to 3 or 4 newspapers and reads them religiously) has mentioned something that they have read in the paper recently and I am then able to elaborate on some unclear point or some bit of information that had not yet been discovered when the article was written because I had been tracking, with minimal effort, the same story online. What purpose do they serve aside from be a comforting routine? I think that there may be an attempt to hold on to print newspapers more for nostalgia and commercial reasons than for anything else – and I absolutely hate saying that because the same argument can be made for books in print as e-books become more and more popular. In the end the important thing is journalistic integrity and an informed citizenry. If the same can be accomplished online then maybe newspapers should focus on reinventing rather than surviving as they are.
    I don’t mean to come across as anti-newspaper, it just seems that printed newspapers are on their way out one way or another… although, if the world was a fair place, television news, in pretty much all its forms, would go first. The emphasis needs to be on what is truly newsworthy, truth in reporting and objectivity (to the extent that such a thing is possible) not the way it is conveyed.

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  5. I was alarmed by this comment that was made back in 1983 and found in one of The Nation readings: "As far back as 1983, legendary reporter Ben Bagdikian warned publishers that if they continued to water down their journalism and replace it with (less expensive) fluff, they would undermine their raison d'ĂȘtre and fail to cultivate younger readers. But corporate newspaper owners abandoned any responsibility to maintain the franchise. When the Internet came along, newspapers were already heading due south."

    Again, newspapers weren't investing time in true journalism and uncovering stories because it was too expensive, and fluff was just easy to dispense.

    Also, I love reading the newspaper in print, but it's something I can't afford nor want to spend money on when I can get the news for free online -- and it's much more immediate.

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