Sunday, March 20, 2011

Print vs. Online a Non Issue

It is good to see the Harrison Press providing more and more content on line. For sure this is where many of us will eventually look to find our news and views rather than from the traditional printed versions. If you are reading this column in the print edition of the Harrison Press you are already part of a shrinking minority of hard copy newspaper readers. It is true that the weekly or community newspapers seem to have been able to hold on to more print subscribers than their big brother daily counterparts but the trends indicate that this phenomenon will be short lived.

Some may lament the passing of the newsprint method of reporting the happenings of daily life. For many of us who grew up reading the newspaper, there certainly is a pleasant tactile response that we have while holding in our hands a newspaper or book. Whether that response is innate or learned is debatable.

Observing our younger generation can give us some hints on what the future holds not only for the printed word but for all media. Ask almost anyone under 35 if they regularly read a printed newspaper or watch TV programs in real time on the broadcast TV or on the cable/satellite channels. More often than not the answer will be no. It is not that they are not interested in current events and are unaware of what is happening around their town or the world. For sure they do enjoy entertainment. In most instances they are informed and conversant. They just get their information and entertainment in different ways.

Instead of half asleep saunter down the driveway before the first cup of morning coffee to retrieve the print edition of the newspaper, the “30 somethings” log on to a news web site or check Twitter and Facebook. Often the content on these sites are provided by the very newspapers they eschew. The Enquirer has and most premiere newspapers like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal have very popular online editions. I read both on my computer and smart phone. The Kindle and other eReaders offer electronic versions of several daily newspapers.

For breaking news a printed newspaper can’t compete with an electronic edition. It was almost 24 hours after it happened that the printed edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer was able to report on the recent devastating earthquake in Japan. By then most people had consumed hours of video reports and analysis. Much was from the web.

It is not only the newspaper industry that is undergoing change. TV, both broadcast and cable are losing viewers to video services provided on the Internet. There is an increasing amount of first run programming available on line and on demand. “Appointment” viewing, that is watching a program when it is broadcast, is becoming less and less prevalent among all age groups. Among the 25 to 35 year old demographic regular TV viewing is the exception rather than the rule.

Some worry about these trends. Others, me included, feel that we should not concentrate on how we get information and entertainment as much as the quality and reliability of the information and entertainment we get.

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Anonymous MikeD said...

I get the news and sports from both print and online sources. I just haven't found a way to get the daily comics, and don't feel comfortable taking my laptop into the bathroom :)

2:41 PM  

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