Friday, November 23, 2012

Newspapers vs. new media

Newspapers and the press have hundreds and hundreds of years of history, and have had a big impact on the society during all of it (for good and bad alike.) For hundreds of years newspapers have thrived, and were a staple of any society. This is because for a long, long time they were basically the only medium that people had to get information about current events (be it local, national or international) and people thirst for this kind of information.

In the past 50 years or so TV has kind of become a big competitor to newspapers, but never really supplanted them.

However, during the past decade or two a new form of media has become so big and prevalent that it actually has turned into an almost newspaper killer: The internet (often colloquially called "new media.")

Traditional newspapers have struggled for a decade or two to adapt. Physical newspapers are selling less and less because it just is easier for people nowadays to search for information on the internet, usually for free, than to buy a newspaper. Traditional newspapers have tried to transit to the internet, some with more, some with less success.

One of the biggest mistakes that many such newspapers do is this: Online articles would be quite a useful and valuable resource for many people, especially if they can be referred to. These can be important sources of information of past events, and they could become referred by other articles. The internet could be a very handy and useful, easy to use and free-for-all archive of newspaper publications (something that in the past required one to go to a library that offers such a service eg. in the form of microfilms of scanned newspapers, and making tedious manual searches using microfilm viewing devices.) However, many newspapers only publish some articles, and often they do it temporarily, removing them from public access after a time. (Either they remove them completely, or they make accessing them non free.)

And then they wonder why their readership is decreasing. The one thing that would actually increase the amount of visitors is the one thing that they often avoid (ie. keeping all articles accessible forever.)

The smarter newspapers keep their online articles available forever, but not all of them are that smart.

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