Newspapers must change or die
Updated: 2014-01-14 07:53
By Wang Wubin (China Daily)
Last year was not a good year for newspapers. As well as the declining advertising revenues the industry had to endure, some newspapers stopped publishing altogether. For instance, at the start of 2014, a famous metropolitan daily, Shanghai Evening Post stopped its operations. In light of this, whether the newspaper will die or not has once again entered into the spotlight.
Back in 2005, Philip Meyer, professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, predicted that there will be no daily newspaper readers by the end of first quarter of 2043 in his book The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age. Many subscribe to this view. In fact, some suggest the end will come before then, as the writing seems to be on the wall for print media in the face of the unstoppable rise of the Internet and the seemingly ubiquitous ownership of smartphones.
In the United States, the advertising revenue of Google now exceeds the combined advertising revenue of all print media. Therefore, for many, there is no doubt that printed newspapers will soon be extinct and the only thing is how soon we will witness their passing.
The Internet had already brought shrinking circulations and falling advertising revenues, micro blogs and social media such as WeChat have put additional pressure on newspapers, with those who are predicting their demise saying they cannot compete with new media in terms of speed of delivery and interactiveness. For pessimists, the newspaper industry is really a "dead tree industry".
However, not everyone is so downbeat, there are still some optimists, who argue "it is only the dying paper that offers live news forever". They cite the inherent advantages of newspapers - their ability to cover stories in depth, their ease of use, and even their portability- as reasons they will survive. Especially in China, where the media industry is relatively less mature than those in the developed countries, and where most newspapers are State-owned institutions that can get a "preferential bonus" from the system. Therefore, they say the road for newspapers has not come to a dead end yet, and in the short term at least there will still be a big market for newspapers in China.