The Decline (and possible demise) of the Print Media

Tonight I had what I am calling a “Penty moment” on my blog. For those who do not know who Arthur Penty was. He was, along with Belloc, Chesterton, and Fr. Vincent McNabb, an advocate of distributism (of which I will not get into on this thread). He was also one of those who did not always see technologial/mechanical advances a progress. Hense, this is why I am saying I had a “Penty moment” with the following blog entry:

The Decline (and possible demise) of the Print Media

If you read the news these days, you see that a number of news papers and magazines are either going out of business or are going completely electronic. Part of this is due to their slanted viewpoints and the fact that the information is hours/days/weeks old by the time one reads the paper or magazine. However, there is more going on here and that is the decline, and possible demise, of the print media in favor of the electronic media.

And it is not only the news media that is being affected. It has started to creep into literature to. Whether it is Sony’s Reader, Amazon’s Kindle, or even audio books, many books are now available electronically. However, I do not see this as progress for a couple of reason.

First, this limits one’s sources of literature to those companies that can afford to, or are allowed to sell their products in the formats readable by these devices. This is dangerous since censorship could easily creep into the selection of what gets publishes based on viewpoint or that one dares to also publish with the competitor’s proprietary format. It also smacks of global capitalism since devices for reading literature will be controlled by a few companies due to the proprietary nature of their devices

Secondly, for me, I think it is easier to read books when it is on paper and not on a screen. It is easier to look up footnotes/endnotes or when something in a previous section is referenced. You can also highlight and make notes in the books which you cannot do with a electronic file.

Finally, and this applies specifically to audio books, I see this specific media as a threat to literacy. One no longer has to be able to read to be able to “read” certain books. However, why learn to read when you can “listen” to the books. Of course, this limits one’s selection of “reading” material since the majority of books are not and will never be on audio books. Even then, many audio books are “abridged” which means you are not getting the whole book. In some cases, like driving or as a reinforcement tool, audio books are a good thing but these are few and far between.

Whether it be newspapers, magazine, or books, there is a beginning of decline in the print media. Some are much further than others. Whether this, will this lead to the demise of the print media is another thing all together. I see books as the last to go and, hopefully, not for a long time.

Progress for progress sake is not progress at all.

I think the decline of print news has many causes has several reasons, including loss of advertising, declining readership as many flock to television or the internet for news, and the massive debt incurred by leveraged buyout companies who missed the long term trend of shrinking revenues. I’m not sure that “slanted viewpoints” is part of the problem. My hometown paper is slanted way to the right, but is prospering and doing so, I think, because it focuses heavily on local news. Newspapers aren’t going away, they just need to adapt.

As for digital literature, I think it increases access to viewpoints. Look at the proliferation of websites and blogs making possible reading about events in the most remote parts of the world. Readers today have the ability to be very easily informed, much more so than in earlier generations.

Proprietary book formats could be limiting, if a monopoly developed. But I don’t think printed books (or magazines) are going away, because as you say it is just plain satisfying to leaf through book or magazine cradled in your hands. Plus, such materials are also more readily transported, traded, abandoned or dropped without worry.

I see most new sources that are in trouble as biased to the left (hence why I say they are BO’s Ministry of Propaganda)

I agree in part what you say about the web (especially for the new), but I put that into the same category as Sony’s reader or Amazon’s Kindle for other print media. It really limits the options since you need some device to “read”. I am one of those types who do not use a laptop in bed (one place where I like to read) or when I am on vacation (usually a cruise).

Another drawback to the web (and in essence for most if not all electronic devices) is you have to constantly pay for and be where you can get access. Once I buy a book, it is mine (at least until the government censorship gets going).

I can hope that certain forms go out. I’m sick of the filth and dribble that lines the checkout lane at the grocery store.

I have a feeling print will remain a popular medium for Manifestos for all time, though.

I do not receive a newspaper. I do use newspaper websites. It is nice not getting ink on my fingers from the computer.

Well, right now I’m home recovering from foot surgery, on crutches and wearing a giant cam boot.

And it’s snowing outside.

And my Sunday newspaper is sitting outside in the mailbox and I can’t get to it.

But I can get to my internet.

I think THAT’s why print media is going going gone. Internet is more convenient. Heck, with a PDA, you can be reading or watching the news while sitting in a boring seminar. And I can choose whether I read news with a liberal or conservative slant, or I can read both.

Besides, black newsprint gets all over my fingers, but the only time my fingers get dirty on the Internet is when I’ve been eating Cheetos.

An unfortunate side effect of local newspapers going down hill is the decline of coverage of local sports. When I was younger, every local high school football game had a photo to go with a full article. Now, the big games get the same treatment, but only the box scores show up for the little ones (unfortunately, these were the games I played in).

Ah yes, the local paper…My grandfather recieve the paper out of the town he was born in, even though he doesn’t live there anymore. It’s rather staggering how one town can manage to fill an entire newspaper, further, after a while, the same faces keep popping up so often, you really feel tied to the community. And community is something the Western world as a whole has forgotten. Now, we’re more in tune with what’s happening in Hollywood or Washington D.C. than we are our next door neighbor. We know sooner of Obama getting a dog than the man across the street.

Not going to happen any time soon. In the past, most newspapers in particular were small and locally owned, then they were bought up by publishing groups and now, “the media” consists of a handful of companies, Mr. Murdoch among them. Profit and loss is job one, the news is job two. Independent reporting is more limited and paying people to tilt things your way is still possible. Plus, those who control the internet want more “content.”

I will be spending less time on the internet in the future. There’s too much junk, dead sites, sites that haven’t been updated in years and sites that are not accessible due to language and sites I will be avoiding.

Authors are still cranking out books, especially through print on demand sites. Unfortunately, too many beginning authors lack skill and some have been trained to believe that editors and real book publishing companies stand in their way. So a lot of really poor writing gets published and the author doesn’t learn anything since he doesn’t receive worthwhile and necessary criticism.

Poor people will still be using libraries. And books are far more flexible and inexpensive than a computer. Wireless reading devices are an annoyance.

I purposely do not buy certain newspapers and magazines due to content and never will.

Peace,
Ed

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