Death and Digitilization: The Future of America’s Newspapers

Death and Digitilization: The Future of America's Newspapers

Is the end for print newspapers coming?

Jason Fasano, Writer

Times are changing for the American media, which is overwhelmingly making the switch from traditional print newspapers to digital online publications. Across the nation, former newspaper powerhouses are either shutting their doors, or adapting to the changing media environment by offering access to their papers via online access.

In March 2009, The Seattle Post Intelligencer released its final printed edition, and made a complete transfer to online publications. This move was significant for two reasons. First, it was the final Seattle newspaper to do so, leaving a major American city without a single print newspaper. Second, it was the first major American newspaper to make this bold switch from print to exclusively digital services. In other words, the Seattle Post Intelligencer was the first nail in the coffin of the American newspaper industry.

FHS’s own online newspaper, Pantherbook, was launched in March 2010. Initially started as an after-school student club, it has grown with the recent introduction of a Digital Journalism class offered as an elective. Franklin had formerly produced a printed newspaper for a long time, until it was discontinued several years ago. Franklin is by no means unique in its choice to move its newspaper to the web; in fact it seems to be the norm for local high schools.

“It was the trend, it’s what’s coming,” said Franklin teacher John Leighton, of his decision to bring an online student run newspaper to Franklin High School, as opposed to reviving the printed newspaper Franklin used to have. Mr. Leighton continued, “All the national trends are showing that print newspapers are in decline. Also, there’s a lot in career opportunities down the road, not even necessarily in journalism but in the digital world in general, whether it be writing, interviewing, filming; so they way we saw it there was a lot more potential.”

The great migration from print to digital may mean the death of the newspaper industry as we known it, but it defiantly has some positive sides as well. On the high school level, it offers public school with limited financial resources to provide its students an opportunity to engage in the world of journalism. It also allows for greater interaction with the reader, via polls, comments, videos, links, or social networking.

“I really can’t explain why, but I just prefer to have a newspaper in my hand,” said Franklin Senior Ben Lewin. He’s certainly not alone. Despite plummeting circulation and readership rates, most newspapers still offer a print option for those who want it. And there is a sort of magic to the experience that is lost when reading from a screen, the rough surface of the pages between your fingers, the musky odor of the paper, fumbling with the complex folds. “I mean really, who reads the newspaper online? But to be honest, I usually just watch the news on TV,” Lewin admits.

In fact, television was the original reason for the decline of the newspaper industry, though not as drastic as the internet. In the 1960’s, after the post war economic boom allowed most middle class families access to a television for their home, the major radio networks began broadcasting on TV, taking audiences away from the newspapers.

Whether or not this change is good or bad may take some time to determine. On one hand, the digitalization of the press is expanding opportunities for journalists. On the other, it is potentially compromising the integrity of journalism. Despite all of this, one thing seems to be fairly certain- if the current trends keep going, print media will inevitably become a thing of the past.

For more information on a career in journalism, feel free to browse here.

To keep updated on the dying newspaper industry, click here.

To get involved with Pantherbook, speak to Mr. Leighton in room D211.

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