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Print media is dying???


Electronic media featured with digital technology is changing the medium of information spreading in an incredible speed. Print media characterized by newspaper presents the trend of marginalization and eliminated. Is print media doomed to perish? I’d like to quote from Charles Dickens “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times” or what Newspaper designer Jacek Utko suggested “Newspapers will die in some regions and blossom in others” (http://blog.ted.com/2009/04/02/the_fate_of_the/ ).

I was watching the movie Contagion the other day. Jude Law was cast as a blogger who perform the work of journalist, investigator and writer at the same time. A few minutes after the movie started, he said “print media is dying!” This line attracts my attention immediately.

From the radio to television, print media has always been challenged ever since the appearance of electronic media. Recently, the internet with portable assistance of laptop, e-reader or smartphone is seemingly up against the position of print media. Lots of people, especially young people or those been called digital native, do believe that print media is going to vanish in decade and prove strong argument. (http://appadvice.com/appnn/2011/07/physical-printed-media-is-dying-and-it-has-nothing-to-do-with-pricing-or-availability ).

However, I think print media still got its own advantages. Research showed that reading on paper is 10-30% faster than reading online. The significant difference between paper and online reading may be associated with users’ decline of sense of orientation when reading long lines of text online, most probably resulting in losing track and having to re-read the same words. (http://users.soe.ucsc.edu/~srikur/files/HCII_reading.pdf ). And other experiments show that compare those readers reading online, more readers reading newspaper can remember the report they read. And online readers receive less information about national, international political issues. There’s no evidence show that the multi-media news online would help reader remember it or get the main points. And there’s less distracted advertising on newspaper or it’s much easy for readers to ignore it.

Besides this, there’s no need to worry about computer viruses or hackers to breaking into the information. What is more, electronic has its own drawback because of the rapid development of technology. It changes too fast that the older version replaced by the new one in a very short interval. We still can read the Bible which was written in parchment many centuries ago. But it is hard to find the required media player nowadays to access the information which was stored on laserdiscs 30 years ago. That’s the example of digital obsolescence on account of the physical medium used for data storage. The continuing change of the technology makes the information storage very unstable. Those information may become very hard to “read” or even cannot “read” someday. As for me, I used to lost many files due to the crashed hard disk.

It doesn’t mean that I’m a Luddite that cannot appreciate and enjoy the new reading experience. I search information online everyday that it seems impossible for me to leave it. My point is that maybe this two media could coexist in the future. And print media should make some improvement to help the new generation reconnect to it. For example, newspaper designer Jacek Utko suggests that it’s time for a fresh, top-to-bottom rethink of the newspaper.

ted talks


Each media has managed to create its own time and space across cultures and around the world. The print media too, be it the newspapers or books, has been able to hold its own and it will last in the future with improvements.

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