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The Death of the Newspaper

It is omnipresent; print newspaper is slowly decaying. As stated in the article The Day the Newspaper Died, by Jill Lepore, “in the eighteenth century, the death of the newspaper signaled the death of liberty,? leaving us wondering what the loss of an industry dating back to the 1640’s could mean in today’s society. In 1765, The Stamp Act was put into effect, forcing printers to pay roughly a penny for each copy of every newspaper to tax collectors- something they obviously could not afford at the time, initiating the slow decay of the newspaper. Thankfully, the print newspaper industry was not completely put out of business, however, in today’s technology-based, eco-friendly society, we cannot be so sure that this really is not the print newspaper’s last hurrah.

If the decline in print newspaper production during the eighteenth century was due to the tax on printing, what is the reason today? Though there are no concrete answers, many theories have been questioned including the effects printing in such large masses has on the environment, as well as the convenience of the conflicting WWW editions and newly popular blogs.

According to Internet: Death of the Newspaper? by Jen Lukenbill, in 2006, it was estimated that “four billion trees worldwide are cut down per year for paper alone, representing thirty-five percent of all harvested trees.? As if that is not bad enough, pulp and paper mills are said to be some of the biggest air, water, and land polluters in the country. As the “green? movement gains popularity in today’s world, it is very much possible the environmental effects are attributing to the death of print newspapers.

Another reasonable theory as to why print newspapers today are withering away is the conflict they have with the online editions. We live in a technology-based world where everything we ever wanted to know is at our fingertips. The internet is no longer solely used by elite businessmen and women for work related issues, but is rather readily available to anyone and everyone. Everything that has ever been printed as a hard copy seems to have a supplemental online version of it which can be found in roughly .25 seconds. It is said that online editions of print newspapers and blogs allow for more readership and are often less expensive to view; anyone with access to the internet can read news online for free rather than paying for the print edition at a news stand.

While the death of print newspapers in the near future is inevitable, it does not have to be thought of as a bad thing like in 1765; we, instead, should see it as an opportunity for the journalism industry to be creative and reestablish itself. As stated by Jack Shafer in The Incredible Shrinking Newspaper, “as much as people may have given up the newspaper habit, their appetite for news has become insatiable.? While the print version of the New York Times circulates, on average, one million readers, the WWW edition is viewed by roughly twenty-five million readers in the same amount of time. Old-school black and white print newspapers may be dying, however, news, itself, is thriving.

As stated by Scott Merrill in Is Print Dead?, the real, to-the-point question is this: “Is print — specifically newspapers — really dead? Or are the bloggers too focused on the bright and shiny stuff that puts food on their tables?? After researching, my answer is yes and no. Print is not completely dead- yet; however, it is sadly on its way to the grave. Bloggers, on the other hand, as well as any other person in today’s declining economy, are truly focused on making money no matter what it takes. This does not necessarily mean WWW editions, as well as personal blogs are bad things; they are actually great and give promise for what is to become of journalism.

Sadly, in the near future, the average American’s day will no longer start with a walk outside in a robe and slippers to retrieve the daily newspaper. Instead, all they will have to do is start up their new-fangled touch screen computer or newest generation of the iPhone, type in a simple WWW address, and wa-la: news. Though it may be the end of an era beginning over three hundred years ago, at least the junior high students waiting for the bus will be saved from a sometimes horrifying sight.

Works Cited

Lepore, Jill. "The Day the Newspaper Died." The New Yorker 26 Jan. 2009: 1-6.

Lukenbill, Jen. "Internet: Death of the Newspaper?" Weblog post. Amp Blog Networks. 6 Oct. 2006. 2 Feb. 2009

Merrill, Scott. "Is Print Dead?" Weblog post. Crunch Gear. 1 Dec. 2008. 2 Feb. 2009

Shafer, Jack. "The Incredible Shrinking Newspaper." Weblog post. SLATE. 24 June 2006. 2 Feb. 2009