Death of the Printed Word

Last week my class went for a little field trip to watch a documentary entitled Page One. It is about the evolution of news, and covers the strain that newspapers are under to keep up with the rapidly-changing news scene.

Page One, Inside the New York Times follows the largest seven-day newspaper in the United States for a year. The film addresses an issue that is starting to come up for every news medium and many other industries as well: the question of how to retain demand and stay relevant.

In 1972 the Washington Post printed details of a political scandal, now known as Watergate. The papers at the time had a near-monopoly for getting news to the people. The story was printed, there was a massive uproar because it was a huge scandal, and Richard Nixon was effectively forced to resign from his presidency.

But things are different now.

The internet has revolutionized the news industry. People don’t have to – and usually don’t want to – wait until the next morning for the printed edition of the newspaper. News can be delivered on a near-continual, instant basis, and this means that print newspapers will have to make some changes.

In 2010 a website called WikiLeaks published a video which resulted in a military scandal. There’s a huge story behind that but the newspapers got a message loud and clear: we don’t need you anymore. WikiLeaks put the info online; no newspaper was given the ‘scoop’ – and it signaled pretty strongly the need for the newspapers to start evolving.

I recommend that you go see Page One if you haven’t already. It’s a very well-made film which Hollywood is actually looking at redoing (if you’ve seen the original film check out this link for one person’s opinion on casting options).

Page One provides viewers with a realistic look at the direction the news industry is headed, and what might happen in the future.

I’ve wanted to write for a newspaper, ever since I can remember. I wrote several myself when I was younger (which I’ll tell you more about sometime). I’m not sure what to do with this information about the printed paper dying. I think that perhaps it might not be just a bad thing.

For example, I believe that we should protect and take good care of this planet that we’ve been given to live on. How many trees are cut down so the news can be printed every day for millions of readers? Here are a few numbers to think about. Please note that they are not verified statistics; I’m sharing them just to get you thinking.

I’d like to leave you with a couple of interesting perspectives on the matter. At a time when we’re hearing all about the cons of losing the printed paper, this blog reminds us of the pros of evolving news media. And this article provides an encouraging reminder that news is really about the passion to get the story out.

And that’s an important thing to remember, I guess. The world is changing. It is 2011. I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of excited to see what will happen next.


About Jenna Marie

Jenna is a communications student from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She's almost finished studying at Red River College and looking forward to whatever's coming next.
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