The death of the newspaper has been predicted for years, with pundits accusing the digital age of destroying the traditional – and widely beloved – way of consuming current affairs. The folding of The Independent’s print issue certainly seems to mark the beginning of the end. Or at least it did, until The New Day arrived on the scene and confused us all. It seems the media world is undecided about the future of print journalism.

The New Day falls under the umbrella of Trinity Mirror editorial, but it is claimed to be an entirely innovative response to the decline in newspaper readership that has plagued print journalism in recent years. But why, at a time when a newspaper as formerly successful as The Independent has terminated print, is this novelty being launched?

The New Day’s editorial contention is that current print journalism fails to recognise the changing demographic of its readership, such as the blurring of gender roles. Men in particular are challenging their stereotype and are reading news in a way once considered feminine; they want to be just as involved with the stories and emotions behind the facts as their female counterpart. Occupying a politically neutral stance and boasting a complete reading time of just thirty minutes, The New Day thus seeks to re-engage the lapsed readers that have been alienated by our traditional, perhaps outdated, papers that fill the newsstands. With sales during its introductory week estimated at 150,000 per day, the fate of this new publication hangs in the balance.

“Publishing is simply adapting to the needs and requirements of the current generation”

What is certain, however, is that The Independent will cease printing from March 2016. Reaction has been fierce, with many journalists and fellow citizens railing in support of print journalism and raging against the destructive clutches of the internet, whose development has accelerated the pending doom surrounding physical newspapers. The ‘death’ of a newspaper which, although young, reputably established itself in the media world as free from political bias, has been lamented far and wide, but in reality such a closure was simply inevitable, and epitomises the downward trend of newspaper readership that has swept the nation.

According to the Press Gazette figures of June 2015, print consumption of The Independent had fallen by a mammoth 85% since its peak in 1990. In comparison, Mail Online achieved a new record this January, attracting 239 million visitors in that one month alone (albeit with many logging on just to see photos of Prince George’s first day of nursery), whilst The Guardian’s website is experiencing a year-on-year increase of 25%. In fact, every single major newspaper saw significant and noteworthy surges in their online readership – including The Independent with a 33% increase – in stark contrast to their newspaper sales, where notable publications including The Sun and The Daily Mirror experienced around a 10% decline.

“Whilst it may be sad to bid farewell to the newspapers that have cluttered our kitchen tables for decades, it’s time to recognise the endless positives that a digitalised medium will bring”

These figures do not lie: print journalism may be on the decline, but this is not the case for journalism entirely. Publishing is simply adapting to the needs and requirements of the current generation. The desirable qualities of immediacy and convenience now rank far higher than the, by comparison, leisurely news reportage that print offers. Stories are often outdated by the time they hit the news stands in the early morning and for a generation defined by our constant internet connection, there is little attraction in reading an article that is already ten hours old when live updates are delivered directly to our phones.

The reality is that people are reading the news more than ever. It is available to us in an unprecedented, unparalleled manner, literally at the touch of the button or the swipe of a screen. This level of engagement would never have been possible without a media revolution and the digitalisation of this information. An increase in national consumption of the news – a knowledge of which can inform, enlighten and empower – is only a good thing, and whilst it may be sad to bid farewell to the newspapers that have cluttered our kitchen tables for decades, it’s time to recognise the endless positives that a digitalised medium will bring.

Laura Hanton

Image: Jon S via Flickr

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