Alterman Essay

September 12, 2009 at 8:09 pm (Uncategorized)

The news as an industry is as ever changing as the events that are covered by it. Technology, reader frustration, and the overall economy have influenced the downward spiral newspapers are currently combating. The future of newspapers and their readers are truly unknown; however the direction they both are heading will be influenced and altered by the technology of the times.

With an increasing amount of people relying on their various electronic devices for their literary needs, the future of newspapers must adhere to this change. Such a change would be a major switch from “dead tree” newspapers to electronic copy. With “dead tree” newspapers’ readership decreasing and electronic readership increasing, the obvious solution is to have an online newspaper and charge a monthly fee for access to the news. Another option along with the monthly fee would be to charge per article, much like music on ITunes. A reader could see a preview of the article, and if they wanted to read further they would have to pay the fee. Many newspapers already have their articles online and some are even beginning to charge per article.

I also think the future of newspapers lie within the past success of blogs and more opinion-based news. Often time’s readers are frustrated with what journalists are writing, citing the newspaper to be biased. Such accusations only stem from the different opinions presented by the newspaper. Unfortunately, a frustrated reader is more inclined to get their news from someone who delivers it in a way they deem acceptable. This method of opinion-based news is undoubtedly biased and most likely unreliable. However, the majority of readers want to hear the news being told in a way that they relate to. Therefore a story on a blog, which can contain opinions and biases may be more attractive to a reader.

I realize that I may be alone in celebrating the change in the field of journalism; however, the changing media landscape has only increased my ability to access the news.  I as a “young person” fall into the thirty-nine per cent from Alterman’s statistic from “Abandoning the News” who prefer the Internet to newspaper. I fully support the idea of the future of newspapers being electronically based. Solely basing my opinion on statistics, electronic newspapers make sense. The Internet is able to reach millions more than a simple piece of paper and is also more efficient when it comes to deadlines and editing. For me, it makes more sense to have a reader be able to log on for five minutes here and there and check the headlines, rather than having to carry around a newspaper and read it while they can. An electronic newspaper just seems to be more effective.

As a college student it can be difficult to obtain a fully intact newspaper on a daily basis. Often times, I find myself too busy to sit down and thumb through an entire newspaper. Therefore, having the ability to check the news online and read articles in between classes on my laptop is a true luxury. I can honestly say that if the news was not available online I definitely would not be up to date on current events. The actual physical newspaper seems inconvenient to me.

In my efforts to “go green”, the idea of less paper use through electronic newspapers is quite appealing. I once read that one copy of the Sunday edition of the New York Times was the equivalent to one entire tree in its paper use. This fact alone makes me wary to purchase magazines and newspapers. I like knowing that if I read an article online, millions of others can read the same article and no paper will go to waste.

My opinions stem solely from a reader’s standpoint, therefore there is a strong chance they will differ greatly from the class’ view.  Due to the fact that I will not be pursuing a job in the field of journalism, the cutbacks in the field are not a factor in my opinion. I can only assume that with the switch from “dead tree” newspapers to electronic newspapers, more jobs would open up. These jobs might not adhere to the classic journalism roles, however, they would be for those who could write and were technologically knowledgeable. As an industry, newspapers are constantly changing headlines and stories to go along with the current events, which begs the question of why there is such uproar about a change in the way the news is delivered. I cannot imagine that the news would truly be deeply impacted if it were only delivered electronically. I believe it is the ones writing the stories who are most reluctant to change solely due to a need for self-preservation.

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