OPINION: Today’s Technology is Reducing Printed News

Juliette Uncovsky, Associate Editor

There was a time before the technological and internet age where a typical person would wake up in the mornings, walk outside to find the newspaper settled on the front lawn and read the latest news from all around the world with a steaming cup of coffee. The newspaper, a prominent tool back in the day, may have seemed likely to never disappear, but as technology is becoming more favored throughout the world today, the print newspaper may be starting to vanish.

In the 1950s, the television was introduced, beginning the decline of newspapers which was a daily source of news. However, the breakthrough of the internet in the 1990s promptly increased the diversity of media choices available to the average reader. This further diminished the fundamental tool of the newspaper, a once dominant source of news. Since then, television and the internet have brought news to the people in a quicker and more efficient way than ever before. The internet also took a step further by depreciating advertisements, the main source of income for newspapers.

Data from journalism.org shows that the year 1990 had the highest number of U.S. daily newspapers, circulating at 62,635,000 issues. From 1940-1991, the weekly newspaper proved to be the most popular. Since then, the newspaper shows to be most popular on Sundays, even to this day. Despite newspapers decreasing at a slow but steady rate, their total revenue has spiked since the beginning of the 21st Century, a time where they also began to be published on the internet more frequently. This rise in income comes from an increase in revenue from digital advertising. In 2017, 31 percent of newspaper revenue came from digital advertising. By March 2018, it was acknowledged that the digital circulation for major newspapers was declining as well, leading to beliefs that the entire newspaper industry in the United States was dying off.

The diminishing newspaper industry has taken a toll on the people who work hard to produce a functioning news source and bring it to its readers every morning. A recent report by the World Association of Newspapers and Newspaper Publishers says that more than 166 U.S. newspapers have stopped printing their newspapers or have closed down since 2008. According to the Pew Research Center, at least 36 percent of the largest newspapers across the U.S. such as the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, as well as at least 23 percent of the highest digital news outlets, experienced layoffs between January 2017 and April 2018. Circulation for once-promising news sources such as Buzzfeed, Vice and Vox declined in 2017 and 2018 as well.

Several initiatives have been taken in order to not let newspapers die out completely. In 2013, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, paid 250 million dollars for the Washington Post and several smaller newspapers. What seems to be an unpromising future for the newspaper industry is not universal. In some countries such as India, the newspaper remains more popular than the internet and broadcast media. Additionally, in America and Europe, there have been recent successful rises of free daily newspapers such as Sweden’s Metro International paper.

With revenues plummeting of the most influential news sources, companies have been forced to reduce news bureaus and journalists while still attempting to publish popular content that will please their readers and bring income. The reduction of staff as well as editorial content has led newspapers to be in a vicious cycle that initiates deeper declines throughout overall newspaper production.

The first newspaper in the New World, Publick Occurrences was published in 1690 in Boston, Massachusetts. Newspapers have been part of the American culture from the beginning and have always been an influential source of news and communication for people around the nation. The fact that newspapers are quickly receding today is a phenomenon that people just a couple decades ago never thought would happen. Whether it be from the television, radio, smartphone or the old-fashioned paper the choice of getting the news lies in the hands of the reader. Just remember the next time you see the newspaper on your front lawn, or you are holding it in your hand like this one, you are witnessing the hard work of countless people over the course of many generations that hope to leave a lasting legacy on all its readers.