Why print won’t fade away in an ever-increasing digital era

The title of this post may sound a bit silly as you are reading this on your smart phone or laptop, but that’s the beauty of it. Our digital world is filled with e-readers, Facebook feeds, Tweet Decks, and instant-gratification inducing apps.

No longer do we need to wait until the news is disseminated to the audiences from newsstands, scanning the headlines as the sun slowly rises in the east. Fueled by 24-hour news networks, our urge to know what’s going on right now has grown exponentially.

We live in a world where YouTube personalities pride themselves on views, Instagrammers do anything for followers, and Snap-Chatters can be there and gone in the blink of an eye.

While I would consider myself a somewhat technologically-inclined man in my early 30s, I will always prefer that wonderful, tactile sensation of holding a newspaper or a book, even while we have the digital world at our fingertips.

While I admit that I frequently check my Associated Press application on my phone, along with Facebook and a few other choice apps, I will always prefer the tangible newspaper. Even with the steady rise of digital media over the past decade, overall print newspaper circulation still makes up more than 50 percent of news consumption.

According to Poynter.org, “more than half of newspaper audience — 54 percent as measured by Scarborough research in 150 large markets — still read their local paper’s news report only in print.” Although this data is a bit dated (it was collected in 2013), it is still a powerful display of print surviving the digital revolution.

Perhaps a better example of this is showcased in the Charlie Hebdo aftermath. Following the terrible events in Paris, the newspaper’s first printing sold over 5 million copies worldwide. According to BBC.com, “normally Charlie Hebdo prints 60,000 copies but the planned run increased steadily this week – from one million to three million to five million.” The January 14th, 2015, article continues, “the ‘survivors’ issue’, as the magazine calls it, is available in six languages including English, Arabic and Turkish. Proceeds are going to victims’ families.”

The staggering amount of copies demanded by the public is a prime example of the support of the freedoms of both the press and of speech, as well as the demand of tangible, hard copies of print media.

In this day and age, digital media will continue to grow at an unprecedented rate. News organizations that once relied solely upon print newspapers in the past have embraced this brave new world. Although the change for these news outlets was initially cumbersome, to say the least, trial and error have instead yielded a new future for journalists and their audiences. News organizations such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Tampa Bay Times have used their websites to supplement their newspapers, and their newspapers to supplement their websites.

In Tampa Bay, for example, The Tampa Bay Times has an interactive website, their daily newspapers, and another supplemental offshoot called TBT. This smaller – and more importantly free – publication, includes basic front page stories, sports highlights, and local events. The publication pays for itself, and then some, all from the advertising found inside.

As the world becomes more and more digitally oriented, it will be the creative forces of these traditional news organizations and content producers which will pave the way. By embracing the new technologies and platforms, not fighting these innovations, is how print will survive the changing landscape of journalism.

Change is one of the few things guaranteed in this world. We can choose to accept and embrace it, riding the wave into the future, or we can ignore it, and be left in its wake. I choose to accept the future while embracing the past.

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