Opinion | Print journalism isn’t dying, it’s evolving

As social media and the internet become the primary way for people to consume news, newspapers have had to adjust for their audience.


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Kelsey Harrell, Managing Digital Editor

Nothing quite compares to the feeling of picking up a copy of your local paper from a newsstand around town. The grittiness of the paper between your fingers and the ink residue left on your hands from holding it too long create an experience like no other.

Not to mention, for a young journalist like myself, your biggest aspiration is getting your byline above the fold on the front page. That dream is changing to your byline appearing on the homepage of your publication’s website.

Print media has gradually shifted toward the online world over the past decade, but in recent years, this shift has picked up pace. The rise of the internet and social media has made print news almost obsolete. Almost.

Print media won’t die off — it’ll continue evolving as it has been.

Older generations prefer walking out their front door each morning and picking up their copy of the day’s paper off the porch. But younger generations might start their day by picking up their phone and scrolling through Twitter for the latest headlines. Both are consuming the same kind of news.

I’ve watched this shift from focusing primarily on print to digital in the almost four years I’ve worked at The Daily Iowan.

When I started working as a news reporter as a first-year, the digital team was only in its second year. I’m now the second person to hold the position of managing digital editor, which I’ve held for two years.

There are jobs in the digital sector of journalism now that didn’t exist a few years ago. According to the Pew Research Center, the total number of newsroom employees working in the digital-native sector increased from 13,470 in 2018 to 16,090 in 2019. The number increased again to 18,030 in 2020.

On the reverse end of this, the total number of newsroom employees working in the newspaper sector has been steadily decreasing since 2008, according to the Pew Research Center. The number has gone from 71,070 in 2008 to 30,820 in 2020.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t value in print journalism and consuming news by reading a physical newspaper.

Local newspapers provide a service to their communities that national news outlets can’t. Most of these papers are doing this through daily or weekly print products and their websites, appealing to and making information available to all different audiences.

For some older journalists, it might be harder to adjust to the evolving digital world, just like it might be for some readers.

A smaller digital presence shouldn’t prevent people from investing in local newspapers — they’re breaking important stories and focusing on local voices.

The landscape of news media will continue growing and adjusting as society changes. Journalists will always be needed, but the way we do our work will look different than it does even now.

While some jobs in news media are disappearing, others are being created that didn’t exist even five years ago. However, it’s important to invest in local journalism, no matter how you choose to consume news.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.

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