What Went Wrong: Newspapers
You know those sheets that fly aimlessly in the wind, lay crumpled on subway car floors, and neatly line locations for animals to defecate on? Well Surprisingly those sheets have words on them and some sort of information… or so I am told.
*Article contains strong language*
Bruised and battered, newspapers are the old war veterans that were never quite paid their tribute for keeping society informed. Ever since the radio first squawked out its first words, print media has be fighting in battles of relevancy. TV then came along and started building a coffin for print media, then the internet welded it shut before shoving it off the side of a boat gleefully.
Newspapers used to be king, at one point being the only method of passing on information to the masses. Living in slower times (probably before the LTE cell network) also helped as the news conveyed would not have changed very much since it was delivered. For centuries it was the only way, but once other platforms became available newspapers started to look a bit stale.
Print media can’t break stories once they happen, which already makes whatever they are going to report out of date. Assuming they can hold on to a good story before anybody else breaks it, they have no way of updating it and whatever information they have is final until the next print is released. It’s a bit like being mid movie while also needing to use the toilet. As soon as you leave you have only a certain part of the storyline but while you are gone the story progresses and everybody else is ahead of you. Returning, you then look like an uninformed shithead ruining everybody else’s experience by asking what happened.
Print media also suffers severely from its own bias and political agenda which renders it a textual butler that only serves those readers who want something to agree with. This is something exhibited by the many columns of opinion pieces sometimes disguised as news. The columnists themselves are usually so unknown to regular society that it brings to question why anybody would or should care about their opinion in the first place. Kind of like what you should be doing while reading this article now hmmm? Usually it seems that columnists just live on twitter and constantly break the Cluster Munitions Convention by cluster bombing their thousand opinions on subjects they often offer no factual or provable solution to.
When they aren’t pandering to their readers they are busy trailing behind cows to scoop up bullshit and hurl it at whatever they don’t approve of. Usually competing news outlets and celebrities. Take for example the Wall Street Journal’s gleeful take down of YouTuber Felix Kjellberg aka PewDiePie. Regardless of if you care about him or not (I personally don’t) he has amassed an empire for himself. The papers, having nothing useful to print that day, decided to cause some outrage, because outrage is the news that keeps giving. Firstly, Accusing him of being a Nazi and then posting a baffling photo of him in a British style uniform in an attempt to provide solid evidence of Nazism. This fueled stories from all vantage points, some outlets just reporting on the fact that other outlets were reporting this news. Print media let it all ride out until Disney dropped a deal they had with him due to the controversy. At which point newspapers decided to hail it as a victory for journalism exposing stories nobody cared about in the first place.
Print media also suffers from an issue of accessibility. Home delivery is nearly dead, although some papers still insist on outsourcing call centers to call to get their current e-subscribers to get home delivery for some bewildering reason. In order to actually pick up a newspaper you have to get up off your ass and locate a newsstand, at which point you have to insert a metal round piece known as “coin” to open the diseased looking glass vault. Then while trying to look intellectual, you clumsily open it while the pages tear and get warped. All just to realize that the paper is just shit. Most people have decided to switch to electronic viewing but at that point you might as well look at any other news outlet because you probably have already read your free viewing for the month and are now stuck behind a paywall (Paywalls partially being the reason for the rise of online outlets, something I will cover in a different article).
Putting this all together and you create a hostile environment for the growth of newspaper journalism to which the public has very quickly grown dismissive off. With a few notable exceptions that usually feature a scantily clad lady, it’s not news its just new-dity.
So what lays ahead for print media? Well, despite how garbage they are these days, there is hope that they can provide investigative pieces that hold to account those in power. Perhaps if print media started to take the pulse of society more frequently we could start getting rid of the useless commentators and provide actual content. Reading isn’t dead, its just changed form. The rise of blogs proves this, and the sales of E-Books provides solid evidence that people haven’t stopped reading they just changed how they do it.