Print journalism is down, but not out

Roxanne Estrada

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The sleek and shiny iPad is hitting stores next month and igniting a buzz in the literary world.  Now that the all-mighty Apple has joined the e-book craze, writers are left worrying about the future of print journalism.

Consumers can buy and read books, magazines and newspapers on devices like the iPad leaving the demand of printed material in question.  But before you throw out your paper and pen, stop to recognize that the iPad is just the first of many steps toward digital journalism.

You can bet that it will leave its impact on the news business but will it make books as we know them extinct? Probably not.

The Information Age is an exit from the Industrial Revolution and an entrance into the changing methods of how we communicate and exchange information.

But the advancement of new technology doesn’t mean it can’t co-exist with traditional media.  Just think of all the coffee tables and doctors’ offices that would be bare without magazines.

It’s safe to say print journalism won’t become obsolete in our lifetime, but it probably won’t be the primary source of news for the general population either.

Why read about an event the following day when you receive hourly updates with your iPhone? Publishers of print media need to say goodbye to breaking news coverage because it just doesn’t make sense anymore.

In order to stay competitive, print outlets must redirect their focus to writing in-depth articles.  Yahoo may spout out daily news headlines with short blurbs, but if you need details and background information then turn to the old fashioned paper.

It’s an excellent resource because you can trust that the facts are researched, the writers are professionally trained and the interviews are skillfully checked.

A longer shelf life for print articles is a must if print has any hope of staying in the game.  Without the responsibility of grinding out the daily events, newspapers can dig deeper into providing perspective of the current news.

Articles must be relevant and stay interesting weeks after being printed in order to retain importance for readers.

Print journalism will also have to become more specialized in order to retain a substantial audience.  The decreasing readership of general interest magazines like Readers Digest shows us that few want to spend 5 dollars on a publication with the risk of not being interested in half of the content.

It’s sometimes nice to flip through a magazine or browse through the different sections of an online newspaper.  But that’s only when I have a rare, extra moment to absentmindedly wander through articles.

Like most people, I’m a creature of habit and stick to a daily routine.  My morning ritual is reading the same sections of U.S., World, Environment and Travel.  If this is where the bulk of my interests lie, then it makes sense that I would choose a print publication that centers on these topics.

If I’m not interested in sports, why would I buy a daily newspaper and throw out the Sports section every day?  This doesn’t seem like the best way to save the trees.

Just because print doesn’t own the monopoly of all journalism doesn’t mean the field itself is in danger.

The whole point of starting a career in journalism, or any job for that matter, is to innovate, to improve and to push the current boundaries. Challenging the unpredictable is an exciting opportunity to leave your mark in your field.

Journalists who want to stick their heads in the sand and pretend nothing is changing are just plain lazy.

Mark Briggs, author of “Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive,” has a positive outlook on the marriage of journalism and technology.

He writes, “There has never been a time that offered so many powerful ways to tell stories and serve readers with information.  If you love journalism, you have to love having more tools at your disposal, more interaction with your audience and the near disappearance of traditional constraints of time and space.”

Both writers and readers must continue to relearn, revise and rethink how we want to access our information.  How it’s wrapped might change but the essence of news won’t sway.

The core of journalism is to tell a story that will impact and enrich the thoughts and lives of the reader.

So whatever the next iGadget is, embrace the inevitable wave of technology and learn how to utilize it to fit your own lifestyle.  As long as there are stories to tell and people who want to read them, the importance of free journalism is apparent.