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The Day the Newspaper Died

The article written by Jill Lepore is titled “Back Issues. The Day the Newspaper Died.� After reading through this article several times and trying to understand exactly what kind of point she was trying to make by telling us the entire history of the newspaper, I came to the simple conclusion that the newspaper is simply something that allows for news as well as opinions to be published in a way so that the public can read it and develop their own opinions. It seemed as though she was not trying to tell us if the newspaper is dying or not, but inform us that the newspaper has and always will be changing. In her article she showed that often opinions can be very controversial. She explained how James Franklin tried turning the newspaper into an opinion based paper. Part of the problem in the early stages of the newspaper was that many people were offended by the opinions of the writers, especially the rulers of the country at the time. I searched online to find just what exactly the definition of a newspaper is. I found out that according to answers.com, a newspaper is simply a publication, usually issued daily or weekly, containing current news, editorials, feature articles, and usually advertising. In this definition there is not anything that suggests the newspaper must be a printed copy that must be distributed to the consumer. I have come to a conclusion that the newspaper will, someday, cease to exist in its hard copy form. However, I believe that it should and will be referred to as a “newspaper� because it still contains the same principles as a printed newspaper. It seems as though the major newspaper companies realize this and are starting to focus more on web based formats.

According one article titled “Out of Print�, written by Eric Alterman, until just recently newspaper industries were classified as high-margin monopolies. To have or own a newspaper industry in a midsized American city was comparable to being able to print money. However, that is no longer the case. Since the year 1990, a quarter of newspaper jobs have disappeared. This is due to the fact that the internet has taken a lot of the work out of creating a newspaper as well as the time involved in printing it.

According to Lepore’s article the newspaper has been evolving since its start in the sixteenth century. Newspapers were only distributed on a weekly basis because it took sixteen hours to set the type. She also said that at that time they were not even called newspapers. The term newspaper was not given to them until later. She also said that once they started they became more and more popular as well as more and more controversial. This shows that they have been changing and taking new forms as well as taking on new ideas.

Newspapers are realizing that their printed forms are no longer as popular as they once were and are changing as a result of it. Once again, referring back to Alterman’s article, “the average age of the American newspaper reader is fifty-five and rising.� This shows that less and less younger generations are relying on the newspaper as a source for their news. What will happen in fifty years when those fifty-five year olds are most likely no longer around? Will there be anyone left to read the newspaper? I know that I certainly intend not to get my news from a newspaper. The answer is that newspaper companies must face the internet and do all that they can to try and keep up with the trend shift. I currently live in White Bear Lake and my family gets the paper titled the “White Bear Press�. I occasionally glance through it to see if I recognize anyone in the sports section but I do not rely on it for my news in any way. About a week or so ago I was glancing through it looking for possible research paper topics when I noticed something very interesting on the very first page. At the very top of the paper in bold letters was the phrase “…Comment on stories, browse photos and read blogs.� Next to this there was a web address written. This demonstrates that these newspaper companies are realizing that they must turn to the internet in order to gain readers. It also shows that they are using this as a tool to currently make their newspaper better. They are trying to get the public interested and talking about their stories with each other. It seems as though they are possibly attempting to turn the newspaper into more of a consumer based discussion where they spark the conversations by writing an article and then rely on the public to create the conversation.

Whether or not the newspaper will cease to exist within the next few years or the next one hundred years I cannot say. What I can say is that the way trends are going now and with the decrease of young readers going the way it is, the newspaper will no longer be in print form in the future. This is not to say that it will not exist because it will in online document form. It is something that we must keep an eye on in the future as well as take advantage of in getting our voices heard via newspaper web blogs and websites.


I agree with you regarding the newspaper ceasing to exist in printed form. I believe that one can look at the newspaper from two different perspectives. Either they can take it literally as a paper form or they can take it as the concept of the current news being delivered. Websites such as ‘Yahoo.com’ or ‘Cnn.com’ provide news articles that are virtually identical to those found in the paper form of newspapers. The only difference is that the online version can be easily accessed, and perhaps more importantly, can be accessed for free. Many people have access to the internet, so they would not go outside and pay money to get a product that they can get anytime online for free. The only argument against that can be the argument of reliability. It is possible that an online article can be somehow falsely written while newspaper articles require an editor to run. However, online articles still site sources and if any possible fraud were detected, lawsuits would accompany the writer. To add validity to your point that the average age of newspaper readers are 55 or over, I would like to note that the current generation tends to be more technology savvy than previous ones. Not only do we enjoy utilizing the web, we sometimes prefer it. Many believe that the newspaper is antiquated and we must shift towards an online-only form of delivering news. Also, the Minneapolis Star Tribune has just filed for bankruptcy. This is perhaps one clue leading to the previous assertion.