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The digital takeover: Is it the end of the print era?

Age of digital

The advent of print media brought about a revolution that was good so long as it lasted. However, though today belongs to digital mediums, print media has found its way to survive. The recent shutdowns of print editions of various papers across the globe, on the other hand, have questioned my belief.

The birth of the internet brought along several ways for companies, groups, and individuals to reach out to the audience. Soon enough, news outlets saw the internet as a new opportunity. They started looking at digital channels as a cheap and quick way to make profits. As a result, sales of newspapers started to dramatically decline.

Today, with the use of the internet and its reach moving from desktop computers to mobile phones and tablets, hard copies of newspapers have become even more redundant. Not just for convenience, ease, and pace of accessibility, digital became a space that gradually took over the print media for more reasons — both good and bad.

The newspapers that were once read and subscribed to are today just a useful commodity for advertisers, who earn their revenue from newspaper ads. Even newspaper brands understand that digital is the present and very much the future. Companies like The New York Times have successfully pulled off the online subscription concept, but most print media companies are still struggling with it.

Print media is today looking for alternatives. From social media channels to digitally engaging websites, and video content — things are changing, but is the end of the print era imminent?

The rise of social media

Social media changed the way news is presented, disseminated, and interpreted; the overall concept of news is now far from what it used to be.

Platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow people to talk to each other as things happen in real-time, creating a disadvantage for the traditional news media, which cannot respond as quickly. Additionally, social media is much more exciting than the average print media option, adding on to their challenge. There are other gaps as well, which seem to be widening even further. For instance, newspapers earning from digital subscription and advertising revenue are not earning enough to make up for the collapse of print advertising industry-wide.

Though this decline was predicted long ago, it may still be too early to overlook the power of print regionally. Its continued popularity and technological adaptation might just result in a change of channel and process, but not the concept or the idea. Also, facts like sales of the daily press in most post-industrial societies not getting affected by the growing availability of electronic media is a silver lining. To what extent digital will be able to push the boundaries and disrupt the print media industry still remains to be seen.

Print media is today looking for alternatives. From social media channels to digitally engaging websites, and video content — things are changing but is the end of the print era yet?

Adnan Wahidi is Account Executive at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. |