In the not so distant past; hundreds, thousands even, hundreds of thousands actually, maybe even millions relied solely on the delivery of their portal to the rest of the world. The spotty teenager who used to knock his ball against your garden shed a few years ago is one of the most important individuals in delivering the world their news. For without the paper boy, there is no paper and with no paper there is no news and with no news you are just an individual standing alone disconnected from the politics, scandal, heroes, villains and breaking news from the rest of the world. Not so long ago if the spotty teenager who wears his trousers far too low and rides that broken scooter did not wake up for his paper round, many would be left stranded with no clue of what is going on. (Yes this is all a slight exaggeration, but you get the picture!)
Unless you have been living in your Grandma’s garden pond for the last 80 years you will know this is no longer the case. (if you have been living under your Grandma’s pond for the last 80 years, no jet packs still are not available to everyone in their local post office, I know it is complete injustice isn’t it (damn those politicians)).
Technological advances have ensured that newspapers are on their last scooter wheels and slowly fading away (damn those foreign advances in technology taking our newspaper’s jobs!).
The Sun is not just a piece of paper that objectifies women but also Britain’s most popular and biggest selling newspaper. However between 2008 and 2014 its sales went down by a million from 3.3 million to 2.02 million. Statistically by 2022 if it carries on to lose readers at this rate it will no longer cease to exist. Therefore this means that Britain’s biggest selling newspaper only has 7 years left! The Daily Express also has a year on year fall of 11%, and in 2014 The Daily Mirror dropped to under a million readers! The left-wing broadsheets? Even worse, while it is hard to find the statistics for papers such as The Guardian (maybe because they are the ones who publish these statistics, so are reluctant to reveal their own losses) it has been reported that The Guardian as a newspaper is hurtling towards non-existence faster than any of the tabloids.
Away from Britain this is also mirrored with American newspapers also reporting large deficits in their audience (actually in most cases it is even worse in America!).
Why I hear you ask, actually I don’t hear you ask as you already know the answer don’t you? It’s those degenerative, poisonous, lazy, vile teenagers not getting up before midday to deliver our papers!!!
Okay maybe it isn’t. If you want to blame someone or maybe actually something it is the internet.
Imagine this scenario if you will. I have a sweet (your favourite sweet actually, oh yeah I know you love those toffee ones!) and you have two choices. You can either have this sweet right now for free or you can have the sweet in 20 hours time and you have to pay for it, oh and also everyone else is having the sweet right now for free so if you don’t you will look weird! Because that is essentially the difference between newspapers and the internet. Why pay for something when you can have it for free on demand?
You might be familiar with the story of the racist Chelsea football fans? (Basically a group of football fans refused to let a black man onto a train in France during an away game with PSG, declaring “we’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it”). A video of the incident surfaced on the internet the morning after. You could go online all day and watch it (for free!) and view opinions on it from people all over the world (also for free!). So why would you wait until the next morning to hear about this in the form of a newspaper where you can’t even watch the video (and it costs money!)? You wouldn’t and you didn’t.
I am very confident that we are experiencing the end of newspapers. I do not think that they will ever die out completely, and I actually think in the future they might become ‘cool’ amongst some ‘hipsters’ like how buying vinyls has become recently (guilty!). But I am certain that in 20 years no one will value a newspaper as an accurate and valuable way to break news.
And what impact does this have on the media? Quite a big one actually. News outlets no longer earn their money on the quality of their work anymore but more upon what their work is about. For example it makes no difference to what you thought of their article to the money that news outlets make, it is only the fact that you clicked on their article that is important. Therefore we are likely to see far more stories with leading headlines that make you want to click on them (like tabloids) than ever before.
Recently Peter Osborne who was a journalist working for The Telegraph (a British paper) resigned and published an open letter of his resignation online which anyone can view. In this letter he referenced a story that the newspaper ran about a women with three breasts. A colleague of his knew for a fact that the story was fake and not true but the newspaper continued to publish the story presumably because it would get more views. More views means more exposure for the adverts placed next to the article and therefore advertisers will pay more if their advert is likely to be seen by more people. The story on the women with three breasts is an example of what the internet is calling ‘clickbait’ (a term that I will explore in a post soon) and ‘clickbait’ is moving to shape todays media. Because that is how news outlets now make money, and everyone loves money!
The organisations that produce newspapers will survive (on the internet) but newspapers will not. Goodbye newspapers. While unconventional, I’ll miss them, will you?