There is a lot of talk these days about print journalism and how it suffers owing to declining revenues and escalating expenses. The revenues mainly come from paid advertisements and sale of the paper, both of which have been severely shrinking of late. Salaries and cost of print, on the other hand, represent the main expenses incurred by any paper; both items have been consistently on the rise. Print journalism thus finds itself trapped between a rock and a hard place, striving to achieve a direly needed balance between expenses and revenue in order to remain afloat. It has not made matters any easier that the growing global drive towards electronic reading has made readers reluctant to go to print journalism.
Such concerns are indeed tangible on the ground; modern technology, digital communication means, and broadcasting and reception tools have rendered real-time coverage of news around the world possible in audio, image, and video. It is beyond the means of print journalism to offer such on-the-spot coverage, at least when it comes to news and events. It can only compete at an advantage in in-depth post-event reports, beyond-the-news facts analysis, interviews, historical documentation, and investigative reporting. Electronic journalism may not be well-poised to do such work in view of its priority being round the clock, informative coverage.
The fact is that if print papers are keen on retaining a place on the media field and not having to bid their readers farewell, the challenge is to focus on informative and specialised journalism where there is ample space for offering a rich satisfying reading experience. This transition is imperative if papers are keen to maintain a place in the media of tomorrow. But this is not the only challenge at hand; papers that wish to live on must venture into the electronic media and digital communication networks which appears bound to push out all paper journalism at some point in the future. This step would also serve to connect the papers to younger generations who have mostly turned their back on print journalism.
If print papers embrace this vision and policy, they will be able to alter the way they currently operate and equip themselves with the tools of the electronic era. Such a shift has the potential of attracting new consumers and advertisers, and can hopefully help papers to recover from their current economic pitfall. When the day comes that print papers need to bid their readers good bye, it would not be the end of the road for their media mission; they would continue to carry on their role with the tools of the modern era. Such is life, an era follows another era, and a generation steps in following another generation.
17 September 2021