Say Goodbye to Print and Keep Your Eyes Glued To Your Screen

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Pat: Subscribers to Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) found in January that their subscriptions were canceled. Meanwhile, on the other side of the print industry, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, after publishing since 1863, closed its doors and went online.

The print industry is quickly imploding; while sales have declined steadily since the Internet boom of the ’90s, the collapse of print journalism has been expedited in the last two years.

What’s to account for such a decline? There are several angles to the equation, but the most obvious is that the more affordable and portable that computer technology becomes, the less inclined people are to drop a few dollars at a newsstand.

After all, if you can pick up an iPod Touch for $200, which instantly gives you access to articles from every magazine on the newsstand, all the news at the instant it breaks, as well as a plethora of online exclusive media like YouTube and blogs, why spend $.50 a day, 365 days a year — the same price as an iPod Touch, when all is said and done — to pick up dated, slanted news in the Los Angeles Times?

There’s little that print media can offer consumers when the newsstand can fit in your pocket better than your wallet. Even non-news media, like comic books, are increasingly taking their products online. While the comic book industry will likely stay afloat much longer than newspapers, given a large contingent of collectors, most print media seems to have a limited lifespan and will probably collapse sooner rather than later.

Media bias certainly factors into newspapers’ dilemma. There’s nothing wrong with reading the other side, but when one perspective predominates — a liberal slant in the case of the newspapers — there’s little to stop people from ditching their subscription in favor of reading the same articles and authors online, along with conservative bloggers and digital publications, like the Drudge Report.

However, bias is a problem nearly exclusive to the newspaper industry. Rising costs and sinking demand have affected gaming journalism as well. EGM is the latest and biggest to fall, but every other minor publication has already collapsed; the only video game magazines left are the propaganda arms of the big publishers, such as X-box Magazine and Nintendo Power.

Then again, the newspapers are, at this point, nothing but propaganda arms for the Democratic Party, so perhaps there is a trend.

Whatever the case, printing’s days are numbered.

Shapan: The viability of print has declined along with a widespread increase in the use of the Internet. Often, someone’s homepage on the net provides that person with as much information as the front of a newspaper. Newspapers themselves are beginning to realize the change, revamping Web sites to help keep people updated and often charging for “insider” information.

But it’s not just the availability of these newspapers on the net that’s taking away from their sales in print; it’s the easy alternatives to the newspapers’ material. Specialty Web sites and bloggers have taken America by storm, particularly college students. If you go into any lecture hall on campus in the afternoon and take a gander at the scattered laptops all over, more often than not you will see a student scrolling through media gossip or funny pictures rather than paying attention to what’s going on in class. The Internet era has spoiled us with a certain immediacy that newspapers and magazines tend to lack.

Blogs and message boards have given the pen, or rather the keyboard, to anyone without concern for having their material dulled down through an editing process. The candor and enthusiasm of these blogs can often trump the political correctness that often sullies a writer’s words in a newspaper. All it takes is a push of a button to get your word across and available through the World Wide Web.

Mainstream magazines have lost a bit of their swagger due to narrow-mindedness that comes with the same old writers writing about the same old topics. For years, boring repetitive music journalism from Rolling Stone magazine could be countered with fresh opinions and news on more varied artists online at Web sites such as Pitchfork.com or TinyMixTapes.com. Now that Pitchfork has become a figure in music credibility, it too could have its overly opinionated reviews and news trumped by the next up-and-coming Web site. That’s what makes all these Web sites so much fun.

There’s not enough room for free flow and avant-garde writing in print. Readers often spend time flipping through stories they’re not interested in to read an article that’s already restricted by format. Why wouldn’t they go to a Web site that gives them exactly what they want immediately for free?

For years, print has been on the decline because prices have driven people away. Not only have people found alternatives to newspapers and magazines online, but the absurd prices of school books has made the Internet an occasional alternative for students who lack the cash after already being in debt with their tuition. But prices may not be the only thing spurring on the Internet revolution. In entertainment coverage, honest perspectives are valued commodities, and the honesty you’ll find in a blog run by a bunch of 20-somethings might just trump what you’ll find in a newspaper or magazine, where words are constantly examined for their correctness.

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