23 April, 2009

The death of newspapers?

I was listening to a very interesting program this morning on Radio National, Future Tense, about the future of newspapers. Already in the US there are many cities that no longer have a daily newspaper and even such august publications as the New York Times are said to be under threat. We are lucky in Melbourne where we still have 2 metropolitan dailies and a national paper.

The commentator on the radio was saying that the production of newspapers is a very odd thing to do in the 21st century. First, you find your tree - then it gets pulped. The pulp is sent off to make paper (probably over the sea) and then the paper is shipped to the printers where millions of pages are produced and then the finished item is delivered all over the country, to small businesses and individuals. They are seen as very disposable too, and long gone are the days when they ended their life wrapped around fish and chips or even meat (yes, I'm that old!!)

I admit to being a very dedicated newspaper reader. I get quite anxious if my paper is not on the driveway by 6.30am. During the day I will check the online papers, but nothing to my mind beats reading the paper over breakfast and sitting down in the evening finishing off what I missed in the morning.

Online papers are obviously much greener and less wasteful of resources, but the question is what will happen to the journalists if the papers no longer exist. People are unlikely to pay for online content, so revenue has to be raised by advertising. So how do we still get the investigative journalism and the expert opinion on matters of importance to the community? Will we no longer have professional journalists, but see the rise of the citizen journalist?
The library subscribes to many newspapers, and there is always a queue in the morning to be the first in to claim today's edition. What do you think? Do newspapers have a future? We'd love to know what you think.

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