The great debate; are newspapers dying?

What is black and white and read all over? The answer is supposed to be a newspaper but this is not the case anymore. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations report, out of the top 25 daily newspapers in the US one newspaper had a gain in sales and readership. The paper with the gain in sales and readership was the Wall Street Journal.

Over the last several years the world of newspapers has been on a death watch. There is even the blog, Newspaper Death Watch that keeps track of what newspapers go under and the rebirth of journalism through the internet.

The world in general is too busy to take the time to pick up a paper and read it. It is much more convenient to sit down in front of a computer pull up the website and click on the stories, then having to search through the pages of a paper and get your hands all dirty. Our news no longer revolves around the newspapers. The world likes to get their news posted online or through blogs.

Just recently Sam Sessa, a reporter and blogger from The Baltimore Sun came to speak to my class. He told us that he really feels that his blog, The Midnight Sun, helped to save his job. He also told us that his fellow co-workers who did get laid off did not embrace the internet and using it as a reporter.

“Blogs were a breath of fresh air and break from what we were doing.” Sam says.

He thinks others around him, who had been journalists for years also felt the same way and that is why they embraced the idea of blogging and the Internet.

The world is about hustle and bustle and how fast we can get to the next appointment. Most people walk right past a newspaper stand and do not think twice. People are blaming the death of the newspaper on the Internet and why not? It wasn’t until the Internet exploded that the decline in readership declined in newspapers, right?

Many analysts, over the years, have looked at the fact that newspapers need to go online. It should be fundamental and natural for them to go online, so they can grow. On the other hand, some people have not solely put the blame on the Internet.

 An article in the New York Times, last October, talked about the impact the Internet has had on papers but the article also explains that the newspapers themselves have put less content on their pages, over the years, and this could be a reason for the decline, not just the Internet.

About six months after The New York Times wrote the article about the decline of readership, The Baltimore Sun laid off nearly 60 employees. During this layoff period two of my professors were working for The Sun.

One professor was laid off and the other professor still had her job and was given a promotion. The major difference between the two professors was the one, who still had her job, worked on the website. The other professor, a photographer was not as involved in the online end of the paper. I can remember her (the one laid off) constantly telling us in class; to make sure we know how to do everything, writing, shooting and online stuff, because that is where the world of journalism is headed.

Christian Schaffer a reporter for WMAR-TV, the ABC affiliate in Baltimore says, “They call it a ‘one-man band’ or ‘multi-media journalist’ and it’s coming to WMAR pretty soon.” 

Shaffer says that one reason his station is going this route is because technology is changing and allowing cameras to get smaller, so the station feels reporters can go out on their own.

Feet in the Street allowed people to tell the world where they are get their news. Shocking enough it was not the Internet and it was not the newspaper. The majority of people who responded to the blog post said that they received most of their news from TV. 

Donna Galagaza, a mother of three says, “When I wake up I turn on the TV and watch WJZ. That’s what my parents did and that’s what I do. Even if I am just listening to it while I get the kids ready.”

Debbie Davis, a grandmother in West Baltimore says she watches the news to find out what is going on in the world and her community. “Most of the times it’s the evening news.”

But Davis and others also brought up finding out news through word of mouth. Crystal Sears, a server at Fleming’s Steakhouse commented on the blog post, ‘One of the main sources for hearing news is actually from word of mouth.’

The hot dog man on the corner of Pratt and Light Street put his hands in the air and moved them around to indicate that he gets his news from the streets around him.

There were even some people out there who said they still read the paper. Noah Carver, who was passing through a busy intersection downtown, on his way to work, says he gets his local news from The City Paper and The Beat.

The National Newspaper Association conducted a survey and the results were that nationwide, weekly community newspaper readerships are at 81 percent with 73 percent of the people say they read the whole paper.

Maybe the problem lies only with the big corporate daily papers and not the weekly local papers.


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