For ages, books, magazines and newspapers, were revered for the enormous amount of information they contained. I can remember looking things up in the Encyclopedia Britannica when I was young. One summer I set the goal of reading everything that was in the encyclopedia. I’m pretty sure I never got through the second volume. In 2012, the company announced that the 2010 edition would be the last printed version. However, they were being replaced by their electronic “copies”. Reference books of all types are feeling the pinch caused by technology and the internet, from atlases to dictionaries to thesauruses.
I have a subscription to Time magazine and it seems like a shell of its former self. There are just 68 pages in a recent addition and a large number of them are full page ads. The same thing seems to be going on with The Readers Digest that I receive every month. There are now a lot more ads than I remember with less content.
My wife is an avid reader and she has a kindle. That way she doesn’t have to lug around one or two large books. Her Kindle has well over a thousand books on it at this point. Every day I download free books for her off the internet. If she doesn’t like a book, she just deletes it. No muss, no fuss, and we haven’t wasted any money on it plus we save gas by her not having to drive to the library.
The newspaper industry has always had its ups and downs and the industry has survived previous slumps. I remember that television’s arrival in the early 1950s was supposed to predict the decline of newspapers’ prominence as most people’s source of daily news, I think sudden increase of the internet in the 1990s and the increased number of media choices available to the average reader has made this much worse. I feel the Internet has also gone further than television in eating away at the income of newspapers with Craig’s list, e-bay and other online sites that are available to sell your goods. I think the increasing use of internet search, primarily through large engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, has changed the habits of newspaper readers.
Buffalo News owner Warren Buffett wrote, “Simply put, if cable and satellite broadcasting, as well as the internet had come along first, newspapers as we know them probably would never have existed.” Since the beginning of 2009, the United States has seen a number of major metropolitan dailies shuttered or drastically pruned. Even the news magazine “Newsweek”, has ceased being published as a print magazine.
Since the end of January 2016, I have managed to get my writing published a number of times. I have gotten published in an online newspapers as the food columnist under the banner “Lovin Spoonful”. In that time, I have also seen one online publication and two of the print publications that I was writing for close. The Lockport Star has announced it closed in July 2016 and The Tonawanda Sun also announced it was closing in July. It appears that the Community Papers of Western New York has decided to discontinue publishing all of their small town papers. Readership of print newspapers has fallen by a staggering 25% in just the last four years.
I am now being published in 3 print newspapers and four online ones. I have a portfolio of my articles cut out of the newspapers and they seem much more real than the ones I print from my computer. If I wanted, I could put together on my computer, something that said I was published in the New York Times and I’m sure that anyone with basic word processor skills could do the same thing.
Maybe I am just old fashioned and behind the times, but the feel of a newspaper in my hands just seems right. I prefer having ink stained fingers to carpel tunnel. Sure, the newspaper might not be up to the minute but it sure beats those news bytes that you see scrolling across the bottom of your television screen. What does the statement “17 dead in Brazil” tell you? Was it a terrorist attack, a bus overturning, or a meal of bad sushi? There is no how, when or why and just leaves you not knowing what the heck is going on. I’m sure at least 17 people die in Brazil almost every day. Just knowing how many people died without giving us many more facts is useless.