Extra! Extra! Read all about it! You, ma’am! You want to read all about advancements
in printing technology, don’t you? And how they’ve affected the newspaper industry? Well, I’ve got a story for you…
hot off the presses… One hundred years ago, when people got a hankering
to acquire information… …they bought a newspaper. Plain and simple.
There were no other options. Of course, back in 1620, it was the town crier
who was totally cutting edge. That was before this amazing thing called
“pulp” came along. Cheap paper and ink…bam! You’ve got yourself a newspaper. Until recently, “advancements in technology” meant improvements to the printing press… …which would result in lower production costs… …which, in turn, would make newspapers more
accessible to the poorer classes. For those who could even read, anyway.
There was no camping out overnight for the next best thing like we do with our techie treasures. There were just the usual places to buy the
same old publications. And it wasn’t only newspapers that were
printed and sold this way. Books… pamphlets… everything was printed
in bulk and distributed across the country to spread information as quickly as possible. Can you imagine having to wait an entire day
to find out what Perez Hilton had to say about Katy Perry’s birthday party? ==We shudder to think.
Stuff started to change with the advent of broadcasting via radio… and then television. Of course… if people weren’t after cute
little soundbites, they knew a newspaper was still the place to go.
The newspaper industry took a hit, but they were still going pretty strong. After all, the TV news was presented only
a few times a day… …so you still couldn’t just “log on”
and access the desired information any time you felt like it.
But then came the knockout blow. The internet. El internet-o.
The Great White Web. This thing meant business. There was no longer a significant cost to
printing and physically delivering papers… …Now, the marginal cost for computer space
was close to nothing. The way newspapers had always made money was
to sell ads for jobs, cars, homes… … but who relies on newspaper ads these
days to find what they want? Can you imagine a world where people go to
the “Man seeking woman” section of the newspaper looking for a date? Used to happen, believe it or not.
Once the internet got on its feet… …it began to feature news feeds, informational
blogs, online versions of physical publications… … and eventually, instantaneous news and
information via social networking and reporting. Because of this sudden explosion in
readily-available information… …if a company didn’t jump on the virtual
bandwagon, there was a chance they were going to end up six feet under. And you just know their obituary would have
been instantly available online. The traditional newpaper companies were doomed
because they were averse to taking risks. Instead of recognizing the trend and cannibalizing
themselves to reinvent their business… …they let others do it for them. The newspapers could have bought Yahoo,
AOL, Google, and others… but they were pennywise and pound-foolish. They instead bought what they were comfortable with. Each other… and consolidated. By the time they had to compete with the Internet, they had all become local monopolies
with cultures as just order takers, rather than competitors. The best and brightest didn’t exactly
beg for jobs at newspapers. Today, not only can we follow American news… …but we can be updated on global events
just as quickly and easily as the story that happened down the street. Although, to be fair, even today most of that
news comes from the papers. AP and UPI, for example, are owned by the
collective of newspapers, and get paid a license fee for the feed… …except that now they compete against bloggers
who do it for one-hundredth of the price, so… buh-bye, profits…
The immediacy of the internet is great though, because it used to take forever to find out
what was going on overseas. Today, newspapers and other print media seem
like dinosaurs. Especially Dinosaurs Weekly, which has really
been hurting as of late. With hundreds of newspapers already out of business… …and many more headed in that direction… …it won’t be long before the newspaper
is a relic of world history. Or, even if it is still around, it certainly
won’t be growing. It will just sort of be…there. Hanging on for dear life.
People still get their news. In fact, more people get more news. They just get what they want when
they want it. How they want it. Anyway, you might want to hang onto one or
two of those newspapers as collector’s items. Someday, you’ll have a good story to tell
your grandson when he asks, “What is that thing?”