Monday, November 22, 2010

Print Journalism vs. Technology

Anyone who took any sort of writing class in college has heard it: "Print journalism is on its way out." Anyone who actually majored in Writing/Journalism definitely heard it: "Good luck finding a writing job; this is a bad time for you to be graduating."

The source of these quotes? My college professors. Yes. Plural. Multiple professors.

We all know that newspapers are definitely struggling and that many are trying desperately to revitalize their image. What I find interesting is the way most of them are doing so: their websites.

Can technology save newspapers? In their print form, probably not. But just because newspapers in their print form start to dissolve, doesn't mean there won't be the need for journalists and that the news is dead.

Mashable says it best: Newspapers Are Still Dying, But the News is Not Going Anywhere. They discuss how newspapers will always be of value to those communities without access to the Internet, but soon the cost of printing papers will outweigh the benefit. This means more papers moving solely online.

What will the move to the internet mean for us in the industry? Will there be a strict distinction between journalist and blogger if everything moves to the web world?

What about magazines? Many are creating iPad versions, but still remain in print. I hear very little about the magazine world being in the same boat as that of newspapers, and am grateful to work in that world. Once I started interning for magazines in college, working for newspapers immediately was eliminated from my mind. Does this make me one of the lucky ones, or will magazines someday reach the same fate as newspapers - even if it is years later?

Can we look at this in a more positive light - is technology help saving print publications - both newspapers and magazines? Is technology helping a broader audience find the news? If newspapers and magazines were to stop being printed tomorrow, would technology help them survive?

I don't have answers to a lot of these questions, though they are always on my mind. What do you think, Working Girls? Even if you aren't in the Publishing industry, do you think this affects you?


Angeline said...

I don't think the writing portions of magazines are going anywhere--people still want the stories and pictures. The medium, however, is definitely changing. I do think this broadens the audience a lot more, but it also raises a lot of questions about revenue streams, since people are less inclined to pay for online content (and in my case our magazine website doesn't do ads). More and more I'm finding that the skills I'm learning for my blog (html, css, etc.) are more and more relevant for my magazine job as well, although I do feel that my journalist and blogger hats are very separate (mostly due to the fact that my blog isn't news based at all so it's hard to call it journalism).

Rebekah said...

Oh, what a topic near my heart! I never intended to get into newspaper, but that was the only job I could find out of college (much to the horror of my journalism major cohorts). So I reported. I copy edited. I designed. And I got laid off in January. And what job opened up? Another copy editing and designing in newspaper. So now I'm torn between leaving a job I love for job security and knowing I'll have a job tomorrow.

At a doctor's appointment, the doctor casually said, "It's a shame, really, because you don't get that kind of investigative journalism anywhere but local newspaper."

And he's right. TV journalism is about ratings. Big papers are about their own cities only until the issues in smaller towns are too blown up for the regular person to do anything. And good luck getting anything of value on cable news.

It might be easier to be optimistic if I weren't constantly afraid of losing my job. But I hear where you're coming from. Be grateful for job security in magazines! (And if you want to help out a fellow journalist who would LOVE job security...)

Laurie said...

From a fellow editor's perspective, I view this movement to the Web as an opportunity, not an obstacle. Magazines can now be offered in both print and online form, which allows us to provide content to a variety of audiences. I do, however, think that print media will continue to slowly lose momentum and that the shift will be toward online publishing. As you mentioned, it's about looking at this from a positive light, recognizing that although change can be scary, technology is helping pave the way to a tremendous future for the publishing industry.

Lose the Excuses said...

J-School grad here from way back in 1990! Yikes! I agree with the statement that the news isn't going anywhere. While the medium may change, the need for the message remains.

What scares me is how 'journalism' has changed. Many of the stories in my local paper (which I read online) often lack the proofreading and editing that was standard in print.

With the advent of blogging and cable networks like MSNBC and FOX News, opinions often masquerade as journalism. The lack of objectivity is appalling.

When I was in school, we were taught to show both sides of an issue and write in a manner that made it hard for the reader to know how we personally felt. Sadly that no longer seems to be the case.

Rosa said...

I like them both we have a good integration (the internet and the physical resources). People like to feel stuff and thats were the printed items get their public.


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Lawyer Working Girl said...

I HEART magazines and I can't imagine them only being offered in digital form one day. I love going to my mailbox and finding my magazines inside. I love holding them, flipping the pages, and earmarking items of special interest. I don't know how I would feel if my magazines were no longer offered in print form.

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