The Changing Face of News

Growing up, I always looked forward to reading the Sunday paper.  During the week, I didn’t have time to read the news before school.  But on Sundays, I would take my time with the huge paper, looking at the ads, the comics and the travel section, along with the main section.  When I moved away to college, I missed that Sunday morning ritual.  Every time I would visit my parents, I would look forward to reading the paper.

As the years have gone by, perhaps to cover the decline in readership, the newspaper raised subscription prices.  Quite a bit.  Combine that with late deliveries, my dad didn’t think it was worth it when he could just read the news online.  He looked at getting a weekend delivery, but the cost was still high.  But he found he missed reading a physical paper.  He decided to subscribe to our local small town paper, which was much cheaper than the metropolitan paper.  But due to budget cuts at the paper, there is no Monday delivery.  I’ve read the paper when I go visit, and there really isn’t much there.  The Sunday paper is so thin and bare.  The national news that is printed is something I have already read online a day or two before.  My dad admits that he gets most of his news on tv or online, but likes the feeling of holding the paper.  He also likes to read the local obituaries.

Other than when I go visit my family, I never read a physical newspaper.  I prefer to go to a few different sites to get my news online.  After years of having free online news, I don’t think I would want to pay for a digital subscription service, but I understand why businesses are trying to implement this.

But sometimes online news isn’t even timely enough.  I think that is where social media comes into play.  I have friends who live all over, and last year, I saw a friend mark herself as “safe” in London, and another time a friend marked himself “safe” in Barcelona.  That led to many posts asking what happened.  Another instance is when something happens to a celebrity.  I’ll see a Facebook post first, and then slowly news sites will have more information.  Earlier this year, at 4am, I experienced my first San Francisco earthquake. I quickly looked online to find more information.  But it was not on any local news site.  I found information on Facebook.   So even though I read the news regularly, I think that social media is a much faster way to spread information.

What does that mean for the future of newspapers and journalism?  With more and more budget cuts, and people expecting free and fast information online, I think it is difficult to say.  Is it worth paying for a digital version of a local newspaper, when certain national sites (such as NBC News) have a local section?  I am curious to see what newspapers will do over the next few years.  Will they make the sites more engaging and interactive so that people are willing to pay?  What about people like my dad, who want to hold a physical paper?  Will newspapers be able to adequately serve both print and digital subscribers when there are funding issues and budget cuts?  I really hope they can.

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