Focus: Are Newspaper still Relevant in Today’s Society?

Read ‘Integrity will Help Newspapers Stay Relevant’ published in The Straits Times, 28 Jan 2012.

Excerpts from the article:

Traditional newspaper publishers still have a place amid the boom in social media, and their products can remain trusted sources of information, relevant to the societies they serve, said Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) chairman Lee Boon Yang on Friday.

This is because traditional publishers still have ‘critical, fundamental strengths’ they can leverage on, namely, editorial integrity, accuracy and a confidence in and responsibility for what they publish, he said.

So the ultimate question to answer is still, are newspapers still relevant in today’s society?

If you read the above few forum articles on why newspapers must / should stay, you probably have your own voice on the mentioned question.

Besides newspapers, we have:

  • Online journalism (e.g. STOMP in Singapore, The Online Citizen, BBC Forum, TIMES forum)
  • Online articles (e.g. Yahoo, Twitter – providing bite-sized news)
  • Videos (e.g. DailyMotion, YouTube)
In fact, the above can actually be classified as citizen journalism.
Let’s evaluate whether such mediums can indeed undermine the future of the newspaper.
Citizen journalism has to offer that conventional media such as newspapers does not.
  • In the past, news reports used to rely solely on the perspective of professional journalists, but nowadays, with an increased number of “eyes and ears” on the ground, information dissemination is very different – one can get many different perspectives on important events and issues.
Newspapers can cope with the changes in today’s world, and add value to the process of supplying information which citizen journalism cannot.
  • Newspapers can cope with citizen journalism’s rise by adapting.
  • Newspapers have set up websites that supplement their publications (e.g. The Straits Times Premium accounts)
  • Newspapers can incorporate the contributions of citizen journalists in their publications (the idea of co-existence between newspapers and citizen journalism).
Convenience arising from easy access to a spectrum of information across many categories of subject matter
  • Citizen journalism may offer us multiple perspectives, each individual perspective or report is limited in its scope – lack of the “big picture”.
  • Newspapers provide convenience – the structure of the printed page classifies information for the reader according to subject matter and importance.
  • Newspapers also supply a balanced amount of information while citizen journalism tends to predominantly supply information only in some categories such as accidents and celebrity gossip (Note, there’s also been a change in paradigm for citizen journalism – people are using it to garner support for  different campaigns e.g. Libya – Egypt Crisis)
Reliability of information
  • Due to the ease of publication and circulation of information on the Internet today, we see a large quantity of information on questionable origins on the Internet.
  • Untruths or half-truths can serve to negate the benefits brought about by the speedier circulation of news.
  • News to be published on newspapers have to meet a minimum standard in terms of accuracy and detail of facts provided.
In a nutshell, the reason why people turn away from newspapers is perhaps the restrictive framework by which the newspapers provide news. This means that either not enough information is provided, or that information provided is biased and limited in perspective. The problems mentioned can be rectified, because newspapers are profit-motivated. Healthy competition between newspapers and citizen journalism can  heighten the level of information dissemination. The idea of citizen journalism and newspapers working hand in hand is largely feasible. The changes do not spell the demise of newspapers, but instead advance the benefits that we may receive, and there are still plenty of reason to have faith in the printed pages.
What do you think? Leave a comment!



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