Writing Sample

I chose this paper as my writing sample for a couple of reasons. One of the reasons is that at the tim I was very interested in journalism and its future. I aspired to be a journalist, a writer, anything in the writing profession would have made me happy. I chose to write about the future of newspapers in this final paper for my English 1010 class. I thought it was an interesting idea that one day we would all have these little tablets that we could easily access the news on… who knew that was only 6 years ago? I am always surprised by the transformation of technology and thought this paper was a great look into the past.

THE NEWS OF THE FUTURE

THE PRINT EDITION

In the most recent years, we have been hearing news stories focused on the print editions that send them out. The issues currently present with print newspaper are no longer a minor threat to the industry. Current articles present the issue that we may no longer have a print newspaper in the future (Farhi, Kunkel, Morton). This may not affect the public in the many ways other losses in society due to technology have. For example the invention of the television changed the entire way we viewed the world. While the decline in circulation is major for the print newspaper industry, we find it far less controversial than our oil reserves diminishing through the years, yet we may not be saying good-bye to print newspaper forever. Technology is determined to save the print newspaper industry as well. By redeveloping the newspapers’ contents and changing their overall appearance, the CEO’s of these companies, large and small, hope to attract more readers. By changing the print newspaper appearance, the industry may hold out for a few years longer than the estimated time of a decade that many believe the print editions will stay around, saving more jobs and keeping the presses running.

However, something more interesting is coming into the print newspaper industry’s circulation. The more recent development of electronic ink, electronic paper, and WiMax broadband wireless access will propel print newspaper into the future and create a universal technology that will save the industry. By changing the appearance of print newspapers and developing new ways for readers to carry around a copy of a newspaper, the loss of circulation will be eliminated and there will be a greater amount of people buying newspapers. The loss of circulation is due to a new era of digital advancements, not only with the internet, but also by radio, television and various wireless communications.

In redeveloping the print edition there will be fewer troubles associated with circulation. The decline in circulation is something John Morton believes in “Keeping the Faith” is due to the “rapid growth of the Internet and the uncertainties about its impact on the newspaper business, sluggish advertising revenue and rising newsprint costs,” (2006) as well as “the continuing, and apparently accelerating, decline in newspaper circulation.” New technologies will advance the newspaper business well into the future and provide its readers with an easier way to access the news other than the internet. Through electronic ink, electronic paper, and WiMax Broadband wireless access I believe the newspaper industry will thrive for in the future.

The decline of the newspaper industry is a both a major and minor controversy depending on who is interested in the business. It concerns everyone, mainly attracting the people who are working in the industry. Other than those working in the industry, it concerns everyone in the United States that needs to know what is happening so they are able to make a well informed contribution. The decline will cause employees in the industry to lose their jobs to lay-offs, or if something better comes along that can replace the quality control of a multitude of people by a single electronic device.

THE REASON BEHIND THE DECLINE

Advancements with the internet and wireless communications have made getting the news more readily available to its readers. The decline first started with the inventions of the radio and then television, for people realized hearing the most recent news on the radio and then watching it on the television was easier than reading news that was hours old. This is one of the major causes of the print newspapers’ decline in circulation today, causing the overall effect of print newspaper companies to lay-off their employees, cut their newspapers content, and finally sell their companies to more efficient companies focused on gaining profit than the actual content of their news stories.

Statistics show that with the increase of households in the United States, the circulation has stayed rather close with its total number in both daily circulation and Sunday circulation. The only problem for the year leading up to 2004 seems to be that the decline continues to go down almost a million in circulation a year. The State of the News Media released data showing the total number of U.S. daily newspaper circulation versus the number of households from 1940-2004 in January of 2006 (figure 1). The information provided showed that the number of households was almost double that of circulation for both the daily newspapers and Sunday newspapers.

One may believe that with the rising number of households, there would be a higher rate of circulation. The realization that circulation is instead decreasing since 2000, shows that more households are finding alternate ways to get the news. The reason behind the statistics may be that we are finding more advanced ways to get the things we want in society through the internet, television, and wireless communications that can keep us updated every minute of every day.

Print Edition Websites

One may argue that print newspapers are not experiencing a threat, for they have developed their own way to compete with the accessibility of the internet by using the internet to publicize their news stories. This is by no means part of the problem, for by having websites for their print newspaper, companies are able to keep customers. The problem arising between the two is that not many print newspapers with an internet website acknowledge that the news companies that publish them “offer a greater in depth and breadth of news, information, and services online” (Outing, 2006). Outing found that more than half of the newspapers he looked at offered the web address on the front page, while they did not reference it on the inside pages. The other print newspapers choose to not publish their web address, but instead refer to a specific online feature and have a few references to the website on page two.

LAY OFFS AND TAKEOVERS IN PRINT NEWSPAPER

We have seen it all over the news, major lay offs and takeovers in major industries all over the country, but until now we have not paid much attention to the threat the loss of circulation may eventually lead to for companies and their employees. Minor print newspapers companies realized what the loss of circulation can really do, having to lay off the employees they can risk losing and sometimes even selling their company with the hope they will come out on top.

But how bad are things in the newspaper business? Paul Farhi says in “Under Siege” that they are “[s]o bad that it’s newsworthy when a newspaper isn’t cutting its staff, chopping its news hole or taking some other action that requires another of those ominous Message to Our Readers announcements.” (2006) It is not as bad as the airline or auto industries when you compare them with one another, but there are still many announcements that will not place a smile on anyone’s face. The thought that print newspaper might be in trouble wasn’t brought to the public’s attention until the recent Knight Ridder’s Washington bureau showed the country that even the major companies were experiencing problems

The Knight Ridder Takeover

Knight Ridder owned 32 newspapers until March 13, 2006 when McClatchy bought the company (Layton, 2006). While both Knight Ridder and McClatchy are both newspaper companies respected by journalists, it turned out only Wall Street respected McClatchy. Of Knight Ridder’s 32 newspapers, they held the prominent Philadelphia Inquirer, the Miami Herald, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Kansas City Star and while these newspapers seemed to be the best of the best in their local areas, it just was not enough, not even for the 400 papers that subscribe to the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service. In November of 2005, it turned out that the three largest stockholders of Knight Ridder were no longer happy with the stock price and demanded that the company sell to the highest bidder. The company chose to comply and presented economic presentations to the prospective buyers this winter. This event became the “big one” in the print newspaper industry, causing the public to open their eyes.

“To be fair, Ridder warned for years that if profits didn’t stay high, the company would be vulnerable to a takeover,” Rem Rieder reports in “The Knight Ridder Fade-Out”. It turns out that Knight Ridder was lucky enough not to be bought by a company of “equity-fund money guys who couldn’t care less about journalism,” as he so kindly puts it. McClatchy is selling 12 of the companies Knight Ridder once owned, in hopes that they will experience a partial victory in the takeover. The takeover was inevitably brought on due to the audience in Washington and New York, or lack thereof, causing a reason for the sale. This is the same with many other print newspaper companies, because the audience they are attempting to catch is now choosing alternatives ways that are cheaper than buying a print newspaper everyday.

The Lay Offs

The year 2005 did not encourage many people in the newspaper industry. With a reported loss of 2,000 jobs, lead by the New York Times Co. and the Tribune Co., Knight Ridder was one of the top companies to cut newsroom employees (Shaw, 2006). This is a reported fall of almost 15% since the year of 1990. While these numbers do not seem to be that large, when the Annual State-of-Media report came out, the jobs lost have reached almost nine million in the print newspaper industry since the year 1990. Editor and Publisher describes the report as being “Three Times Worse Than 2004” in their article.

Why are newspapers choosing to cut their staff? Because the public can find online versions for many editions of the newspaper, the news has become more obtainable than before. The only answer print newspapers can consider in the confusion is to cut their staff so they can handle the loss of profit they are receiving due to loss of circulation.

A WORLD WITHOUT THE PRINT

Many have and will continue to argue that a world without print newspaper will not be much different than it is now. If print newspaper is not around, then they can still easily get their news online without half the hassle of trying to deal with a large piece of paper that seems to go every other way you want it to go and the huge amount of waste created by printing newspapers on a daily basis. Without newspapers we will no longer have to cut down the massive amount of trees it takes to make the paper used. Thomas Kunkel states in “Toward a Paperless Society,” that instead of the roar of the press, “[t]he soundtrack of tomorrow’s ‘newspaper industry’ will be the dull hum of computers and the gurgle of idealism being stifled.” The idea that computers are going to inevitably take over the print newspaper business is already present in America’s society. We first saw how digital devices would one day dominate the newspaper industry when the newspaper’s proofreaders were replaced by computer programs that were able to edit and process stories at a less expensive rate.

Digital technology will stop the entire print newspaper’s circulation the day the publishers find a way they are able to create a paperless world. Kunkel describes the publishers as being “some of the happiest people on earth… for that day will mark the culmination of a technological march that began nearly half a century ago.” By this, of course, Kunkel means what a paperless world would mean to the publishers. Publishers would no longer have to buy newsprint; pay for “the annoying cost of human beings”; there would be no more presses to buy, no more people to run the presses; no more circulation departments to run; no more circulation trucks to buy, gas up, and maintain; and certainly no more delivery people to hire. The people who love the newsprint will inevitably hate to see it go, but as Kunkel writes, “You can be sure there will be few tears shed in the corporate suites.”

If the print newspapers no longer existed, then the news you find on the Internet may cease to exist itself. When we do lose the newspapers, the question will be, if newspapers, online or on paper, do not provide the resources to report on their communities in depth, who will? Paul Farhi believes no one will, for “[a] dozen or so years after the Internet first began to achieve mass appeal, reports working for mainstream news organization still are by far the biggest and most important sources of original reporting.” (2006) Farhi’s article also states:

Internet giants like Google and Yahoo! do no newsgathering of their own. (‘They’d be crazy to get into original news reporting,’ says Conrad Fink. ‘It’s too expensive.’) Instead, they aggregate and disseminate the work of reports from the very news organizations that are now shedding workers-thanks in part to competition from the Internet.

This statement being true means we would then have to look at another source of news that has become popular through the Internet, the Bloggers. When looking at the blogger’s side of things, one may easily see how they simply gnaw the facts found by others. They do not report, they in fact repeat what they have already heard from the original print newspaper or from other bloggers.

The truth is that any type of news we find on the internet comes from the same general place and that is from the print newspaper and the journalists employed to do their reporting. Both bloggers and news sites alike could always report their news the more expensive way, hiring journalists to discover the news for them, but for now, they are stuck in their ways, happily buying their news from someone else.

A CHANGE FOR THE PRINT NEWSPAPER

Print newspapers will continue to dwindle in importance as more and more of their readers discover the internet and other advancements in technology, but we may find that some will hold strong to the newspaper they have grown accustomed to. One way to save the print edition would be to change it, give it a complete makeover. There are certain things we could do to make it more appealing to the reader that lets them know they are not picking up a bland newspaper of the past, but instead one of the future. Print newspaper companies will find that by changing the overall appearance of print newspapers to something that appeals more to reflect that they serve an audience that can easily and cheaply get whatever news and information they want on the computer screen, then their circulation will decline at a slower pace than it is now.

I. The Front Page

Whenever you pick up a newspaper, there is one thing that will always place that newspaper with the others (Outing, 2006). It is the front page. Newspapers look different in various ways, but no matter where you are, the black and white design is almost always going to be the same. It is what makes the newspaper what it is today. The front page focuses on the local news of the area, or takes a national story and makes it local. It should always be this way, allowing the reader to know what is happening in their community and not someone else’s. What newspapers should change about the front page is the information they need to go online to the newspapers webpage where they can find out more information on their headliners and talk about them with fellow readers. By doing this, their readers will feel more connected with the paper and their community.

II. The Stocks Page

The Stock Market page should be cut down. Instead of having a massive amount of numbers that are up to a day old, there should be a small listing. A listing should be supplied directing the readers to a page online where they can get up-to-the-minute updates. As Outing puts it in “Let’s Redesign the Print Edition”, we should take the “page formerly known as Stocks” and it “should look like it is largely a promotion for services available from the newspaper online and via the telephone.” Why the telephone? People without access to the internet may not understand what it is, or are unable to use it and by having a telephone number they can easily use the information their newspaper provides for them.

III. The Comics Page

Why not have ways the readers can get online and read more of their favorite comic feature? This would be a great way to help the readers realize that they can interact with their newspaper instead of just reading it. Outing suggests that readers should not have to until the next day to find the answers for their crossword puzzles and by having the answers available online they would be more willing to do them. When the newspaper waits for the next day’s edition to answer the puzzles on the comic’s page, they seem to be persuading their readers to buy tomorrow’s newspaper. By allowing them the opportunity to find the answers, they are letting their readers know they are the top priority.

IV. The Columnists Section

Columnists should have online blogs available for their readers where they can answer questions, say what is on their mind and be able to update their information when needed (Outing). If the columnists connected more with their readers, they would show they care about the opinion of the public as well as their own.

IV. The Classifieds

When there are free services provided on the internet to list whatever you want to sell, who wants to pay to list their valuables for seven days with only three lines to describe it? The best way for newspapers to change this area of their newspaper is to offer a free online ad with various charges for special additions (Outing). The newspaper would still be making money off the classified while making their customers feel better about the whole deal.

I-NEWSPAPERS

When the movie “Minority Report” came out in the year 2002, many people were skeptical about the ideas present for the future year of 2054. The technology for the time seemed overwhelming for just hitting the new century. But the reality is going to hit and we may be looking at one technology present in the film that we could not have expected for at least twenty more years. In the subway scene, we find a Washington D.C. passenger is reading a copy of USA Today on a broadsheet-sized, uber-thin screen. The truth be told, I-Newspapers will be present in our lives sooner than we think. Through electronic ink, electronic paper, and WiMAX broadband wireless access, the way readers see the newspaper will change in the world.

Electronic Ink and Electronic Paper

In 1997 when E× Ink Corporation was founded they envisioned a “‘flexible newspaper with the versatility of digital control and wireless update’ capability,” according to Peter G. Marsh of Editor and Publisher. When you contemplate what electronic ink may be, it sounds complicated, but in actuality, it is simpler than one may think. You must only think of millions of black and white microcapsules (maybe tiny baseballs or round ink particles) barely the thickness of the human hair. The white particles are positively charged and the black particles are negatively charged. These particles are found in a clear fluid within a capsule. When a negative charge is present all of the white particles move to the top of the surface, while the black ones remain at the bottom and the opposite when a positive charge is present. E× Ink believes that by manipulating the electrical charges, the particles will be able to form words and sentences. Figure 2 illustrates how electronic ink acts in the previous circumstances described.

Figure 2.

E× Ink is now partnering with Toppan Printing Company to release their electronic paper color prototype in Japan. In December of 2005 they unveiled the prototype, stating that it is suitable for mass production. Figure 3 shows what the latest E×Ink technology now looks like and in contrast the future sounds more manageable for the print newspaper industry.

II. WiMAX Broadband Wireless Access

“Why WiMAX?” Marsh asks in “Taking Stock: Electronic Newsprint and the Interactive Newspaper.” His answer is a simple evaluation of what WiMAX can do for those people interested in having an electronic newspaper. There will not be a required DSL cable or broadband modem connection to be attached to the I-newspapers created by WiMAX. They have already dominated the Cayman Islands with 100% wireless coverage and are in Russia attempting to do the same in thirty of their cities in the next two years. WiMAX is a company created by Intel that will have the entire world connected through satellites that do not require a cable to connect. I-newspapers will be much like a cell phone, but your own wireless newspaper that is able to access news updates whenever and wherever you are.

By having a wireless broadband service anyone will be able to get a portable, updatable online news and information device. You will not see anyone carrying around their heavy laptops and “[a]dvertisers won’t want to pay top dollar to have their merchandise displayed on a relatively low-resolution PDA device.” Marsh supplies a list of reasons why electronic newsprint will succeed, but not simply by mimicking the looks and feel of an actual newspaper. Electronic newsprint will be:

[r]eused thousands of times and requires less than 100th the power of a laptop computer. It’s also six times brighter than any LCD display. Plus, the ink doesn’t get on your fingers, no trees are lost in its production, no recycling is required, etc. etc. etc. (2006).

With these thoughts in mind, one cannot help but imagine a better future with WiMAX and it truly seems as though the new advancements for the print newspaper will be for the best.

The Resulting Factors of I-Newspapers

As with an adoption of any new technology, profit and loss will play a large role in its advancement. As of November 2005, the cost of newsprint has reached $635 per ton, an enormous amount of money publishers must pay in order to send out their newspapers. Marsh declares that because of these costs, “a typical publisher spends about $150 per reader on the manufacture of a daily newspaper.” This amount of money is per week, which is an expense greater than the 50 cents a day they bring in. He suggests that because of this rate, the newspaper publishers should offer their customers an electronic reader device if they choose to subscribe to a print/electronic subscription package in the future. It does seem that by doing such a thing for their subscribers, newspapers will find it easier for the public to grasp the new technology, while at the same time saving money for themselves. But as “they” say: “You have to lose some to gain some.” We can only hope that is the truth in this situation.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END

Print newspaper circulation has decreased due to the rising technologies of the internet, radio, television, and many other inventions that allow getting the news far easier than ever before. Not many people are going to allow the print newspaper to simply vanish before our eyes. We have relied on the newspaper’s words due to the invention of the printing press in 1436 by Johannes Gutenberg (Bellis, Mary). Without the newspaper, we would hardly know what was going on in the world around us. This is not simply because we would no longer have a newspaper to tell us, but also because without the newspaper many of the news sites available online would not have a source to buy their news from. By destroying print newspaper, we will destroy the content we find on the internet as well, unless major internet companies are willing to employ their own journalists to do the job for them.

It was not until recently that we were aware of the problems associated with circulation in the print newspaper industry. It took a major company being forced to sell to catch the public’s attention, as it seems to be with every major decline in the stock market. If there was a way to thank Knight Ridder for their failure with stockholders, we might do so for their help in letting the public know that the print newspaper industry is not going to simply fade away.

With the circulation being merely half of what the total number of households in the United States is, we are going to have to look into new ideas that can allow the print newspaper industry to prosper. Whether it is done by changing the entire newspaper around, by allowing the readers to see what more the print newspaper has to offer online for their readers or by developing new technologies that allow their readers an easier way to read their papers, it is going to be done. The advancements in technology of the digital era, however, will not leave the print newspaper industry alone in its standing, for they are now developing a technology that will be all their own. Thanks to E× Ink, Toppan Printing Company, WiMAX and their many investors, the print newspaper industry is looking at a variety of new products that will take their readers into a future they will have once believed was only seen in the movies. Figure 4 shows what the print newspaper of the future may look like.

Marsh believes that with the current rank of “only sixth on the top ten list of favorite bathroom reading material… we can all look forward to the day when the local interactive newspaper claims its rightful number one position atop this coveted throne.” Of the list of favorite bathroom reading material Dennis O’Connell ranks the Guinness Book of World Records as being number one and the Dictionary/Encyclopedia as number three. With this in mind, the newspaper will be back on top of everyone’s list as number one again when it reaches its electronic stage.

We can now only wait to see the day that the newspaper takes on its electronic appeal, a stage that may not be long in the making. However, as long as technology continues to advance itself, we will find ourselves looking into the future of the newspaper industry more and more each day. The only thing left for the print newspaper industry to allow them to make the complete transition from print to digital and the world will hopefully be ready for its enjoyment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s