Pictures in an Empty Room: The Death of the Newspaper

Filed under: Special Coverage

While I was taking a walk in my neighbourhood, I noticed a tabloid newspaper machine at the end of my block. Two things stuck out. The first was that there never used to be a newspaper machine on that corner. And the second thing was that the newspaper was for free. The tabloid company had become desperate enough to give out what they had been trying to sell, in an attempt to boost readership, increase relevance, and gain subscriptions. Inside a half-mile radius of my home, so far I have counted four of these giveaway machines. Despite the generosity, these machines never run out of newspapers. I should also add that the local broadsheet newspaper company is delivering their newspaper to my home on a daily basis for absolutely no charge, because they too want to convince me to subscribe to their newspaper.

It should come to nobody's surprise that the newspaper industry is in a state of near death. With the competition from computers and mobile technology, there is hardly anything unique that newspapers can offer these days. Before the internet came along, the newspaper had the advantage over other media, in that it was a print medium, portable, and could be accessed at any time of the day. These unique advantages no longer exist. Not only that, newspapers also carry a couple of disadvantages that other forms of media do not possess: newspapers create garbage, and subscriptions cost money.

Yet, my city's newspaper companies think that by offering their newspaper to me for free, it is going to make me want to buy their product. I read a copy of the free-to-my-door broadsheet. I noticed all the poorly-disguised one-sided political rantings, and quickly remembered that I was not missing very much by not reading it. When I read the tabloid, I found more rantings, albeit from the other end of the political ideological spectrum, and I thought to myself that walking half a block for a free tabloid was not worth my time or energy.

Regardless of quality of content, I still do not think that the standard newspaper has anything to offer in this day and age which cannot be found elsewhere. Not only that, the internet offers a broader and larger view that even all of any city's newspapers combined cannot compete with. It is therefore my prediction that in just a matter of a few short years, the newspaper as we know it will cease to exist. The weekly community newspaper that focuses more on community events will continue to exist, and so will the one-sheet newsletters that can be found in restaurants and coffee shops. These minor forms of print media have found their niche, and are in no position of losing out to the rest of the media. Other forms of media have evolved by improving its quality with technological advancement, or by working together with the internet. These are not options for the standard newspaper. There is only so much diversification and improvement that can be made within this medium, none of which seem to persuade people to go back to wanting to pay for newspaper subscriptions.

Tags: Pictures in an Empty Room, Newspaper, Tabloid, Broadsheet, Internet, Technology, Political, ideology, media, subscription

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