Are newspapers calling it a day or are they adapting to the digital age?
Are newspapers dying out? This debate has been ongoing for a long while and it has now resurfaced in the news. Many think that the end of the dailies is within sight – they will not be around much longer. The future of journalism is within the digital world of websites and apps not in the printed media.
On the other hand there are those who insist that journals and newspapers have been with us for decades and, although one can find the majority of the news on the internet, the dailies still have a niche to fill.
So who is right?
Those who insist that the time of the dailies is gone claim that newspaper circulation has decreased drastically, profits have dried up and the industry has experienced a wave of redundancies in the last few years. Having said this, sceptics of the printed media claim that the internet is simply a better source of news. They say that on the internet, the journals are live and can supplement their circulation with audio, clips and their invaluable vast archives.
Some commentators insist that newspapers have not yet died. It is true that the printed media is facing hard times, and it is true that the internet can offer a number of things that the printed journal cannot offer. Journalism experts have been predicting the end of newspapers for many years. Radio, television and, now, the internet were expected to kill the printed media but the journals live on. Those who say that the future of news is online and only on the internet are forgetting a critical point – that the income from advertising on the internet is not sufficient to support news agencies.
One possibility that has not yet made it to Malta is the paywall where the reader is asked to pay a membership fee to access a news service. A number of foreign journals and websites are implementing this system to generate income. Research shows that the success of paywalls together with subscriptions to a print journal has led to stability and, in some cases, an actual increase in income from the journal circulation.
In the age of Netflix, many people are accepting to pay for video content. Using the same argument, therefore, it may be time for the public to start to pay for news content that is uploaded online. Why do we pay to have a printed journal in hand and not do the same for an electronic journal? It should be pointed out that behind every carefully compiled article that has been put online are hours of work and this should be duly appreciated.
All in all, until someone comes up with a way to make an electronic journal profitable, the printed journal will endure. Journals and newspapers remain the most trusted information sources in light of the fake news that is posted online and people will continue to turn to them for the real story when the social media misrepresents some event.