Internet threatens newspapers

When I lived on campus my first two years of school, every morning would begin quite predictably. I would head to the Union for breakfast, grab copies of several newspapers (one being this one, of course) and chow down. Now that I live in an apartment, however, things have changed a bit. I now end up paging through the news online. I really haven’t thought too much about the greater effect of this until recently; it just seemed like the natural thing to do. Nearly all newspapers post their content online, even extra content not found in the paper editions, so why not just get it the easy way? The advent of widespread Internet use has permeated every aspect of the world in which we live. Students use it almost daily for research, friends use it to communicate instantly and world news now spreads like wildfire. It seems like a blessing, and perhaps it is. With growing financial troubles everywhere, however, the deep impact of the internet on the newspaper business is beginning to be revealed. I’m not an expert on the situation, but just a basic search on Google for ‘newspaper cuts’ reveals a problem. It hits very close to home. Only several months ago, two Detroit newspapers decided to reduce home delivery. When David Hunke, publisher of The Detroit Free Press, spoke to the media his words were quite foreboding. ‘We’re fighting for our survival,’ he said, and ‘the dynamics of delivering information to audiences has changed forever due to technology.’ Among his points was the basic fact that the cost of printing and delivering a newspaper was no longer profitable, as most consumers were simply getting their news for free online. Is this a harbinger of things to come? Newspapers everywhere are trying their hardest not to follow in the footsteps of Detroit area newspapers. This includes laying off large groups of employees to save money, which is just a short term fix for a larger problem. It also serves to create other problems. More and more, criticism of this tactic is popping up, with claims that layoffs are leading to a degredation of reporting quality and diversity in newspapers. The problem has even affected several college newspapers, forcing them to do anything to save money, including cutting editions and snipping off pieces of their budgets. It is difficult to predict the future of printed news. Clearly, things cannot continue as ‘business as usual.’ Is it ethical and sensical journalism to make staffing cuts that could affect the quality of the news and writing that is delivered? To me, electronic news is no substitute for the feel of a printed newspaper in my hands. There’s something nostalgic about the crinkling sound of turning newspaper pages, smudged ink and that familiar typeset. Many people have great pride in their hometown newspapers. Local newspapers are beneficial to the community – they help bring people together, as well as inform them of things national or larger newspapers wouldn’t bother with. Local newspapers concern themselves with the welfare of their community, and the things that are truly important to the locals. Are we going to lose this in the future, due to electronic media? If you value The BG News and your local town newspaper, be sure to show support to them in this time of economic troubles. I’m not a journalism major, but I had always dreamed of being able to be a contributor to a local paper. I now have the chance to be involved, as do countless others around the country. We have an important outlet to air our ideas to those in the community around us. You, too have the opportunity to do this. I personally am thankful for this right, and will do my best in the fight to keep things going. To me, the printed word is irreplaceable.’