Is print media a dying art?

by | Feb 15, 2024 | Campus, Culture, Education | 0 comments

Print media may not be dying, just shifting

Print media and its future have been the subject of debate for readers for years now. And, many believe that it is a dying art.

Candas Jane Dorsey, an author and communications professor at MacEwan, has observed a significant change in how print media is used. She believes that print media is not diminishing, and explains that new elements are being added to it as people now read on devices, but still use books and magazines. Dorsey notes that the differences between the ways we use print media and digital media, and the way in which we approach information, have not changed that much. She adds, “Technology is an additive, and the thing that you add doesn’t negate with the thing that came before.”

“We have a fluctuating relationship with print media because people prefer cheaper means and more accessible means of information such as phones, laptops, ebooks, electronic magazines, etcetera,” she says. “However, if the entire infrastructure is lost, print media may have to rebuild, becoming a niche or luxury good.”

Dorsey suggests the first step to attracting young people to print media is getting them to trust the media as a whole again. From an editorial perspective, it is crucial to know what and what not to print. In order to trust a local newspaper, people have to see it reflecting the local culture along with a wide range of diverse opinions. A few leading newspapers in the past, such as the Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun, allowed people to read  news, in-depth coverage, and short headlines while understanding that they were reading different opinions expressed by the colomnists.

Now some people don’t trust large media organizations because they know that they’re owned and controlled by biased owners. Independent media is perceived to be more online and more affordable, which can attract a large audience. Dorsey believes that the small-scale newspapers and magazines will grow in the atmosphere of trust for both the people working on them, and the people who are reading them. According to Dorsey, print media is important because it connects people to the culture, unlike the digital media, which is considered a privileged medium which requires machinery for access. Print media is tangible, real, and present because it is with us and not stored on a cloud.

On the other hand, Neill Fitzpatrick, an assistant professor at MacEwan  and journalist, acknowledges that the future of traditional print media is a little bit cloudy. “There is still a component of the population in Canada and the United States who prefer to read hardcopy newspapers, but are possibly part of an older demographic,” he says. “As this demographic ages, the number of newspapers may decrease over the next 10 to 20 years.” The question is how many younger people are interested in finding, reading, and subscribing to a newspaper.

Fitzpatrick refers to a study in Ireland from five  years ago in which a local newspaper was selling about 200,000 copies of its Sunday editions. Now, it is down to 100,000. He predicts an even further drop in the next five years. 

Fitzpatrick adds that our lives have become too focused on convenience, and our attention spans have dropped dramatically with the rise of social media. People are seemingly less dedicated to reading newspapers and magazines.

Tanara McLean, a producer and journalist with CBC Edmonton, finds it challenging to predict the future of print media. She emphasizes that 20 years ago, people assumed that radio would die as television took over. Now, audio has evolved, shifting to podcasting and other audio mediums. McLean explains that it’s hard to determine the future of print media because as technology comes around, we witness an evolution in how people are consuming the medium. 

Print media is not just hard copies, papers, and magazines that people are buying; this also includes writing for the web as a journalist. McLean reveals that the question is not “is print media dying?” but more about what print media’s evolution could be. It all comes down to where people are getting their content from. If someone wants to read newspapers online, that  doesn’t mean that print is dying, it just means that it’s simply shifted and according to the specialists, it will continue to shift. 

Graphic by Shelby Mandin

Sumita Sharma

The Griff


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