The Suicide of Print Journalism

12/7/2010 10:05:38 AM

Tags: print journalism, internet, news, online news, media, AGNI, David Doody

print-is-deadThe argument goes like this: the Internet came along and started giving everything away for free and those ink-stained wretches grinding away to put out that daily paper that showed up on your doorstep each morning—that product for which you paid good money—just couldn’t be expected to keep up. How, in such an unlevel playing field were the old scribes to play along? Free news vs. paid subscription. The consumers, of course, made the choice that allowed them to spend a little more on Christmas gifts each year or put a little away in savings.

Or so the story goes.

Not so fast, argues Askold Melnyczuk in AGNI:

The death [of conventional journalism] was hardly inevitable and technology may have had less to do with it than most people think. A new medium is only as valuable as its message. Had newspapers continued to report the “news,” we might never have needed to find another way of getting it.

Melnyczuk points to an article by Michael Chossudovsky—“Towards a World War III Scenario?”—from the website GlobalResearch.ca as a particularly striking example of how news from Internet sources, more so than their print counterparts, actually cover stories worth covering and take strong stances on important issues such as war. He also points to WikiLeaks, calling the website’s success “the most important development in journalism in years.”

That newspapers around the world haven’t offered a chorus of thanks to WikiLeaks, and an even louder one to Private Manning, the young man alleged to have leaked the video mentioned above [of American soldiers murdering unarmed civilians in Iraq]—for which he now sits in a military prison—suggests that the decline and eventual disappearance of print journalism may leave us with little to mourn.

So maybe it wasn’t what we’ve all been led to believe—that the Internet killed the print journalism star. The lack of actual reporting on actual important issues may have simply chased readers to places where that coverage was actually happening. 

What do you think? Do you get most of your news online these days or do you still subscribe to a daily paper? How about with ol’ Utne Reader here? Is the website your only destination for us, or do you get the magazine in your mailbox every couple of months, too?

Source: AGNI (article not available online)

Image by cookieevans5, licesnsed under Creative Commons 



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Post a comment below.

 

DonnaJGamache
1/10/2011 10:04:04 AM
I still subs. to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch print edition, because I have friends who work there. It's a sad shadow of its former self that was in a league with the best newspapers in the world, under the ownership of the Pulitzer family. Lee Enterprises, the new owners for the last several years, panders to the intellectual level of a superstitious 4th grader with their ramped up coverage of all things "religious," and soft-headed local news coverage in place of the national and world news and analysis they used to present so well. Shame on Lee for not building a better news machine, esp. with the nation's first (and still one of the top two) journalism schools in the USA a few hundred miles away at University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia, Mo. It's on par with Columbia University in New York.

DonnaJGamache
1/10/2011 10:02:59 AM
I still subs. to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch print edition, because I have friends who work there. It's a sad shadow of its former self that was in a league with the best newspapers in the world, under the ownership of the Pulitzer family. Lee Enterprises, the new owners for the last several years, panders to the intellectual level of a superstitious 4th grader with their ramped up coverage of all things "religious," and soft-headed local news coverage in place of the national and world news and analysis they used to present so well. Shame on Lee for not building a better news machine, esp. with the nation's first (and still one of the top two) journalism schools in the USA a few hundred miles away at University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia, Mo. It's on par with Columbia University in New York.

robert Fay
12/17/2010 9:26:08 AM
I live in AZ. However I had to read a Chicago newspaper to learn that Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire. Maybe the Arizona Republic mentioned Wikileaks but I don't thins so.

Bob Carlson
12/14/2010 9:18:45 AM
both viewpoints expressed by Dejiridoo are valid. there's still great stuff in print, it's just harder to find...daily papers are for the most part bird-cage liners these days, but magazines and books still beat e-stuff IMHO. try finding 'em anymore, though. Waldenbooks, B.Dalton, Barnes & Noble, all gone. will Borders be next? the Internet not only killed bookstores, it killed shopping malls. every one here in St. Louis, save the two in the rich neighborhoods, are unoccupied but for the tumbleweeds these days. i like to be able to pick up a potential purchase in my grubby fists for tactile and aesthetic assessment, but the convenience of the lazy has taken that away from this non-credit card holder. damn them all to perdition. -- BC

Dejiridoo
12/13/2010 9:16:31 AM
I think it's difficult to generalize about the death of print media versus online journalism. I feel that print will remain in some form like other displaced technologies. In my opinion, there is a lot of amazing writing--from a technical standpoint--by the major U.S. print journals. These are good writers and they often check a variety of sources and strive for an objective viewpoint, inasmuch as that is possible. That said, having lived in South Africa and read French newspapers, I am generally disappointed by the lack of risk that major print journalists (and their editors) are willing to take. In foreign journals, many articles present a challenging angle and offer an opinion, sometimes at great personal risk to the writer or staff. (Which makes orgs like the Committee to Protect Journalists all that more important.) I find that this risk rarely happens in U.S. print journalism. For me, it makes the stories boring and watered down to the lowest common denominator. I can get an overview in a U.S. print paper but I can equally get that by scanning Google News or the BBC, the latter of which tends not to sensationalize the U.S. political process as much, or at least keeps things in perspective. Until U.S. print journalists take real risks and offer genuinely interesting investigative reporting, I just can't see it beating out the internet. But that's my bias... --Dejiridoo



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