Letter: Internet kicking traditional media to the curb
Recently, the owners of one of the country’s main dailies decided to throw in the towel and sell the newspaper to a rival company. No doubt, one of the reasons why the owners didn’t see the point in holding on to what they clearly saw as a lost cause was because the newspaper simply wasn’t making any profit that is worth their time. The sale of that newspaper is a sign that technology, and especially the internet, is making traditional media irrelevant.
Newspapers, especially, are finding surviving in today’s world very hard. There have always been predictions about the final burial of newspapers. When the radio came on the scene, it was felt that newspapers would no longer be needed. When that did not happen, the same prediction was expected to be fulfilled with the arrival of the television. Still, newspapers survived. Now we have the internet and mobile technologies. With these developments, the days of the news print are indeed coming to an end.
One reason why traditional media and especially newspapers are finding competing with the internet these days is simply on account of the editorial practices of many traditional media organizations themselves. In today’s world, conservatism will be the end of any media house.
The internet has given the masses the means to express themselves, virtually uncensored, in ways that most traditional media, especially newspapers, can’t. The owner of that newspaper that was forced to sell realized, much too late, that people will no longer put up with conservatism these days. Anything can be had on the internet and anybody can express themselves through it – without much fear of the conservative editor to block that expression.
Here in this country, as in most, newspapers that are circulated are mostly unread these days. Just take an evening walk downtown and you cannot help but notice the stacks of unsold papers. In most rural districts, newspapers don’t even sell any more and more and more people are going electronic. Indeed, several major newspapers around the world have in fact stopped printing altogether, as they realize that putting anything on paper is the best way to keep it a secret. Personally, I can’t remember the last time I purchased a newspaper. Most of my neighbours have long done the same.
The internet has enabled social media to explode in ways unimaginable only a few years ago. Remember the 9-11 attacks in America? Many people saw that live – and mostly through the internet. When the British houses of parliament were being attacked recently, I was alerted immediately, through the internet. Why should anyone bother to read about these events the next day in the papers or even bother to watch the evening news about them anymore? The internet has localized international news.
The internet is truly giving newspapers and traditional media a run for their advertisement dollar. I know someone who wanted to attract customers for his business a few years ago. He decided to pay for an expensive ad (not a classified one) in a newspaper. The result – no one took notice. Advertisers are increasingly becoming aware of the fact that when a newspaper boasts about having a large circulation, it doesn’t mean it has a large readership.
Internet companies like Facebook and YouTube learned a long time ago that conservatism and ease of access through technology don’t go together. That’s why they are so dominant. If today’s traditional media, especially today’s newspapers, want to survive, they must understand that too much censorship will be their undoing. The internet has given people too much alternative for that to work anymore.
Michael A. DIngwall