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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Is the Newspaper Business Still a Business?

    When was the last time you picked up a newspaper and actually looked at the front page, rather than clicked a few keys on your computer to get the latest happenings around the globe? Whether your answer is ‘recently,’ or ‘you had forgotten that news on paper exists,’ read on. If you are a devoted newspaper reader, you will find learning about the future of your daily paper interesting. If, instead, you are computer savvy, you will enjoy reading about your counterpart’s job in shaping the present and future of newspapers.

    Once upon a time and not too long ago – ten years, to be specific – most of the country depended on newspapers. Now, with the proliferation of technology, news can be accessed in a matter of seconds through the computer. Unlike the newspaper for which you pay money, online news is free. Obviously, the use of newspapers is traveling down a negative slope. Does this mean that newspaper companies around the world should be worried?

    To better understand whether the newspaper business will still thrive, let us first understand the newspaper business itself. News, conceptually, is free. No monetary value can be attached to it. When you communicate with someone about the latest events, you do not charge them a dollar for it. The dollar or two, however, charged by newspaper companies primarily funds ink, printing equipments, paper for the newspaper, as well as, the paychecks of professional journalists.

    In contrast, online news is made available for free, for a certain time. After a few days or weeks the same news is considered a research source, and you have to pay to access it.

    Bearing this in mind, it is actually beneficial for newspaper companies to post their news online, thereby saving money on paper, ink, and equipment. Provided that advertisers, who are definitely not the easiest to find, continue to fund the companies for their online exposure, newspaper companies can survive without a paper itself.

    So, is a newspaper or a website better to get the news? The answer to this question is puzzling and may vary from person to person. Considering factors, such as comfort, convenience, speed and accuracy, however, may help us answer the question. If you primarily use the newspaper as a research source, a paper version is better. You can take notes and keep records at your own convenience.

    If, however, you are a casual reader, using your computer is a better choice, as you will be free of the hassle of throwing away loads of newspaper stacks at the end of each month. Although a website beats a newspaper, with regard to speed, for obvious reasons, its accuracy is very dubious. The newspaper consists of information provided by professional journalists who have valid proof of their assertions. A website, however, may consist of articles written by unprofessional extremists whose heads could be completely filled with personal bias. The only exceptions to this are the official websites of the newspaper companies themselves.

    Which one will actually survive? Although the present forces us to believe that online access is thriving and will thrive in the future, only time will tell. In view of this, the newspaper business, like every other thing, is in the hands of consumers like you.

    This opinion piece was inspired by Michael Kinsley’s article ‘Do Newspapers Have a Future?’ in Time.

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