News That Means Business

January 22, 2010

Will Newspapers Survive?

Will Newspapers Survive?

The medium is the message” . . . Marshall McLuhan

I was encouraged, professionally and personally, by the WSJ’s article on January 4, 2010 outlining positive signs for the print news industry (Ad Influx Brightens Hopes for Newspapers, Magazines).

The importance of the news media for public relations practioners is obvious, especially those that focus on media placements.  As a result, navigating the changing landscape of the print industry has presented new challenges as well as opportunities for PR firms.

During 2009, recessionary pressures and the proliferation of the Internet presented a real threat to the future of many publications. The loss of ad revenues and declining circulations made even the most trustworthy publications an endangered species as generations of online readers turned to the Internet as their first source of news.

In fact, on the news side, just an hour after the 7.0 Earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, 2010, most of the first news updates communicated to traditional news agencies and broadcast media seemed to arrive through Twitter.

As a result, the debate continues – the immediacy of broadcast is less threatened by new media,  but the question remains — will the print industry survive?

As a personal reaction, during recent vacation time, I enjoyed the pleasure rather than the pressure of reading the newspaper, waking slowly to coffee and the NYT:  Perhaps it was the artistically designed layouts in print — or the tactile experience of turning the pages, folding the paper, separating the sections and seeing the whole as well as the parts. Print offers a feeling and perspective that can’t be duplicated by a rigid computer serving as the medium for the Internet and for reading news. 

Therefore, I don’t believe the print industry will become extinct, even if it evolves into a niche medium for those who want to feel what they read. Because as McLuhan said, “the medium is the message,” and while a computer laptop may heat up your lap, it rarely warms the heart.

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