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The Rise of Digital Journalism Against Print

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

The old newspaper business throughout the 19th century benefited from industrialization. There was a spur in economic growth, and the population shifted towards a more urbanized and retail-oriented economy, which created the world of advertising. The positive correlation between advertising and news publications grew, which decreased competition in the market, which allowed this old newspaper business model to stay profitable. With newspapers expanding their coverage and consolidation, newspapers became a monopoly. Newsrooms were able to charge higher rates to work with advertisers who all in all maintained high revenues. However, the old business model stopped becoming effective in 2001 when 9/11 happened, and the business world was hit with a recession.

There was a paradigm shift toward digital technology as a medium for advertising. More media companies and businesses turned towards this digital platform as it was more inexpensive than print and cut their spending, which allowed them to survive the recession. Consumers had more choices, timeliness, and benefits through digital technology. However, the powerful force was detrimental to companies. With a decrease in oligopolies that once dominated the news market, ‘new entrants’ could surpass these old companies’ scale of profits without outside factors like philanthropy to keep them financially stable. There was more competition, more exposure, more changes to the media industry.

One of the most influential factors of digital media that disrupt the old business model is accessibility. Wherever there is internet access, journalists can find readers, which makes news limitless. Unlike print journalism, where physical copies were needed, online platforms allow no limits for the time and place of the user. There is such a low cost to expand the market, which makes distribution easier. This idea can be seen in emerging new platforms such as Snapchat with their ‘Good Luck America’ documentary series. This disrupts the old business models. It gives a digital broadcast that can be watched anytime the user wants to and was ​available for users in the United States, Canada, UK, and Australia​. It gained over 22 million views by young audience members under the age of 25, which is a phenomenal impact on the distribution and audience of traditional news. This ties in with the idea that companies also have more information on their audiences in real-time and can track when and how long users are consuming news. These analytics showcase trends that ensure companies can strategize, maximize their revenues, and increase audience engagement. These tools were non-existent through the old newspaper business model, as real-time data from the audience would be costly.

Photo via Pixabay on Pexels
There is a growing divide today between the newspaper industry and the rise of tech giants aggregating news in the grand scheme of things. Local news is shrinking, national papers are losing circulation, and print advertising is falling behind online advertising sales. According to the Seattle Times president, the biggest winners are Google and Facebook, who are profiting off this shift towards digital platforms despite having zero content-creation costs. National papers such as The Times, the Post, and the Journal have all transitioned to online news websites and charged monthly fees, which differentiates them from tech companies. This allows the papers to promote well-rounded journalism without the need for ads that tech platforms are notorious for. However, local newspapers fail to make that digital transition, so they are on the brink of extinction. Tech giants and national newsrooms are drowning out local journalism. With less financial stability and little local support, communities are losing out on what is going on around them. Even though some local papers such as The Minneapolis Star Tribune have signed digital-only subscribers, there still needs to be more sustainability in the long run. This is the same for local news publications such as the Boston Globe and The Seattle Times.

Woman filming a group scene
Photo by Vanilla Bear Films from Unsplash
In my own personal experience, I have interned at a local television news station, Laurel TV, and understand the need for local journalism to be supported by the local community. There is a sense of pride when locals are reporting on what is going on around them because there is a touch of humanity and familiarity. All in all, I believe that there are stark divides between national and local due to the amounts of exposure and financial statuses, which is why nationals supporting local journalism is a great start. For example, the Post includes local articles from the Virginia and Maryland area to highlight local stories. This would show local communities the importance of local news and slowly encourage them to support local news’s vanishing world.

Audrey graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a major in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Information Sciences. She was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. She loves to travel around the world and always has her camera ready to capture everything so follow her on Instagram @audreynwid. Her life motto is 'Don't be afraid to defy the auds, pun intended.' Her furry partner in crime is a Shiba Inu named Hibiki who is quite the model and loves to go hiking. Check him out on Instagram @hibibblekiki