After getting this assignment I started thinking back on my high school years and early adulthood. I can remember my grandfather occasionally reading the newspaper, and I can remember my adopted dad reading the newspaper. I just can’t remember ever sitting down in the morning and taking the time to read a paper. Hell, I grew up during the expansion boom of television, and news never seemed to be that important. Between AP classes, student government, playing football, the Key Club, and playing in a band, I guess I just didn’t think reading the news would really have any influence on my life: maybe I just didn’t have time.
Today is very similar to how things were then. Between carrying a full load at school, doing volunteer paralegal work for lawyers, and studying, the time I do have left over is spent chasing down jobs, applying for scholarships, and doing legal research for trial. The main difference is that now I make time to watch my two favorite television shows, “The Walkiing Dead” and “Spartacus.” Those times are my cool-down period: time to veg, relax, and just enjoy.
Like I said in my About page, I used to be an over-the-road truck driver. It was a physically demanding job, and often I would just want to get away and not think about the next 24 hours. Instead of cluttering my truck with papers or books, I went all the way today and bought a Nook. I could buy newspapers, magazines, and books anywhere. It wasn’t even required that I have a wifi connection to browse the store or have content delivered to my new friend. There’s a song that says “the times, they are achanging.” I could feel myself smack dab in the middle of the revolution: down with print!
Enough about my past…
I tried this little experiment of physically reading a newspaper for a week, but honestly it all came back to the same thing. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, and spending time reading a newspaper just didn’t fit into the equation. First you have to physically stop somewhere and buy the paper, then you have to take the time to read the paper. Most times articles aren’t continuous so you have to flip through the paper just to finish a story or editorial. After you finish with the paper you have to figure out what to do with it. I wrapped up pieces of food left over from preparing a dinner and threw both into the trash. If you have a fireplace, you could use the paper to start fires with. But I found the whole business cumbersome and wasteful. Every time you read the Denver Post newspaper, a tiny tree in the forest plans revenge for the murder of his parent – remember that.
I guess the big question is do traditional media, like newspapers and magazines, have a future in the form they exist. I’m sure that in the next twenty to thirty years print media will still be around. After that I’m not so sure. Already I use a content aggregator to deliver my content to me. It’s called Pulse News (just click on that pretty Mac pic at the top to go to their page). I get to choose the topics that interest me: politics, tech, national news, or just entertainment news. I can change the content at any time just by selecting new sources. For my Magazines I use a program called Currents. It’s made by Google, and like Pulse, I choose the content. Both offer on-demand and up-to-date information and both are delivered to either my phone or to my iPad.
As one blogger so aptly decribed the current state of print media, “The American base[d] PEW Research Center recently conducted a survey on Americans. The survey indicated that “Just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that new stories are often inaccurate” The study found that 22 percent of users said they stopped their subscription to a printed paper or magazine because they could access the same content online. These studies show us that the public is unsatisfied with the news being produced and that a medium created in the 17th century is simply out[-]dated in this digital era, where information is both at one’s finger tips and instant.” Statistically, according to Pew Research, an average of 16 dollars in print revenue is lost for every dollar of digital revenue gained.
Clay Christensen of Harvard University says “the legacy business is the crocodile, the prehistoric creature that will shrink, but can survive. The digital business is the mammal, the new life form designed to dominate the future. And they need to be managed apart.” Many newspapers and magazines now have digital counterparts you can access online. The whole crux is to figure out how to use their digital counterparts to generate revenue that is lost from readers of printed media. However they choose to do that, one thing is sure; the bells are ringing and the funeral procession has started.
To the rolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells -
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells. (from “The Bells” by Edgar Allen Poe)