As a former newspaper reporter and editor, I am observing with great interest the closure of city newspapers. Last week, the 146-year-old Seattle Post Intelligencer published its last print issue to become an exclusive on-line publisher–a move that left the Seattle Times the only major daily in that city.
Just two weeks prior, Denver’s Rocky Mountain News published its final edition and closed its doors.
Does this mark a step backwards? Not necessarily. When I was working for newspapers 12 years ago, I remember having this widespread, sinking feeling that the rising popularity of the of the Internet would lead to the industry’s eventual demise. Just as smart phones would replace telephones, just as social networking will kill off e-mail, and just as video would kill the radio star.
In the end, technology has simply given us more choices, and it’s forced the ‘old-fashioned’ product-makers to be more innovative and open to change.
Newsprint is considered a dying format, particularly among twenty – and thirtysomething young professionals. (Personally, I haven’t read a paper front to back since I left the industry.)But our generations remain informed by choosing what information we want to read and how we want to receive it. From reading articles on-line and subscribing to blogs and e-newsletters, to researching with Google and Wikipedia, to listening to satellite radio or downloading podcasts, to sharing information via social networking, and recording your favorite channels with DVRs and TiVo.Undoubtedly, the world has changed dramatically in recent years. And the way we send and receive information has also changed. News is not defined simply by broadcast or print media anymore.More technology has been developed in the past five years than in the past 50 years. We rarely stop to think about the fact that we are on a ‘fast-forward’ trip to the future until we see 146-year-old newspapers stop circulation.Will every newspaper fold? No, probably not. At least not right away.
Undoubtedly, time changes everything and to everything there is a season. And the emergence of today’s well-connected, busy, multi-tasking young professionals reminds us that the season of the newspaper has entered the winter of its years.
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