Matter Chatter

Is the News Dying?

A blogger buddy and I had a back-and-forth recently about the future of news. He had just read a post called, “The incredible shrinking newspaper audience,” and was pessimistic about the future of how people would get their news.

“Scary stuff if you value real news,” the blogger, Joey Ciaramitaro of Good Morning Gloucester, wrote in our Twitter chat.

There are plenty of reasons to be concerned.

Print newspapers are hurting. Last month New Orleans became the largest U.S. city without a daily print newspaper when the Times-Picayune ceased daily publication after 175 years (it now publishes only on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.) After an 80-year run, Newsweek is also ceasing print publication next month. Close to home, this week the newspaper I grew up with and delivered as a paper boy, the Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass., announced the layoff of 5 percent of its workforce.

“A distinct lack of interest in newspapers among those under the age of 50 suggests it is only a matter of time before (newspapers’) niche turns from ‘super’ to ‘sliver,’” wrote former journalist Alan D. Mutter on his “Reflections of a Newsosaur” blog.

Here’s the thing. Even though I’m a former news reporter, I’m not worried about the future of news. Sure, print newspapers are cutting back like crazy as online competition passes them by and advertisers ditch print for the hipper alternative of mobile advertising. As PR professionals, media fragmentation is a big opportunity for us to help clients navigate this diversified landscape and still get their story out.

But people’s hunger for news isn’t going away. They’re just getting their news in a different way. A study last month by the Pew Research Center found that 43 percent of people who own tablets are reading more news than they were before owning a tablet. Repeat: They’re reading MORE news, not less.

Transitions like this aren’t new. Once upon a time people read afternoon newspapers, coming home from their day shift and catching up on the day’s news before dinner. TV and the evening news killed those. Remember the first video played on MTV, the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star”? Same theme: Transition, one medium giving way to another.

As long as people are curious about the world around them, they’ll still want news. The news isn’t dying. It’s just finding new ways to reach us. 

Disagree? Agree? I’d love your feedback in the Comments below.

  • Joey C

    I’d agree folks are reading more news than ever but the value of words is what I think is the problem.
    There are so many sources to get “news” or news like content that the incredible supply has diminished the value of words.
    If the real world value of news or what people are willing to pay for it where does it leave the business model for the incredibly important fair and balanced reporting that keeps our politicians and businessmen honest.

  • Kim Smith

    I agree that people who are curious want news, but I also think there are very few truly fair and balanced sources for news. It is up to the individual to read as many different sources as their time will allow to try to ascertain the truth.

    I think the problem lies more in when people are not educated to be curious about the world around them and only listen to, and take at face value, news from one source that typically and consistently only perpetuates their own similarly minded and limited world view.

  • Joey C

    Great point Kim.