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The end of news-"papers" as we know them

The Internet has dramatically changed our culture, both socially and professionally. One significant benefit is the internet provides news. Lots of news,immediate news. The internet news isn't necessarily the most accurate news however, to most readers near enough is good enough and the news is FREE. With the internet providing all that free news, what is the future of the humble old broadsheet newspaper in a world that wants glossy, nifty and a touch of pizzazz? There are several things wrong with the tired old paper newspapers as we know them. Mostly they were written yesterday, to be printed overnight so, as much as they try they will always be “yesterday’s news”. With a substantive decrease in newspaper sales in recent years due to the uptake in digital access traditional newspaper houses have put in place severe cost cuts that has seen a down-scaling their journalists. It is therefore understandable that many readers are noticing that their newspapers are becoming thinner for want of content and clones of each other. With thinner newspapers comes the inevitable loss of advertising revenue and sadly the death knell for traditional newspapers is ringing louder each day. Mark Fletcher, in his Australian Newsagency article said "None of these moves should surprise newsagents who have been focused on the future. There is no upside for print newspapers if they remain focused on news as the news is well and truly old by the time the presses start to role the night before we get the products in-store." In a time of global warming it is also interesting to see the swing against print media as next generations become device dependent and learn that four billion trees worldwide are cut down annually to feed the dinosaur presses. The primary role of newspapers was to provide good news to the public at economical cost, supplemented by affordable advertising. With substantial decreases in profits tradional newspapers have now stripped down their journalist staff, closed under-performing regional newspapers and increased their advertising quotients that has resulted in a disproportionate ratio of advertising per page to content. . Where traditional news houses once provided free online access to their articles, their classified ads and their archives there is now a rapid move by many main stream publishers to place these behind a subscription pay-wall, as is the recent case with the several Fairfax regional papers including the Bay Post. Earlier this year Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood outlined Fairfax Media’s long term plans to dissociate from print, citing digital-only publishing models as potentially the ‘next logical progression’. Reported in The Age, May 6th: " Fairfax Media has flagged an end to weekday print editions of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in the face of falling advertising revenue" This year the Victorian newspaper landscape also took a big hit after News Corp slashed seven of its local community newspapers.

Regional newspapers play a vital role as a means of informing and including our community and play a key role as a watch dog and commentator on current events and they help stimulate opinion. Regional newspapers have always been an important means of communication between the three levels of government and the many organisations of the land with our local community groups and the wider community. For regional areas newspapers have also been an essential means of advertisement and promotion. They have served to help trade and commerce as well as to support and promote the essential role of volunteer and activity based groups in our community.

Today social networking sites play an important part in building an on-line community. The difficulty for many though, without a centralised news-source such as a newspaper, is that you need to take a wide variety of on-line feeds to remain informed. Without the integrity required of accredited news-media these “on-line news- sources” can often be questionable. Social media on the internet is increasingly being used to establish communications within communities. Volunteer members within local communities have begun to organise in virtual space and are taking advantage of group communication tools such as mailing lists, newsgroups, and websites. Local towns are becoming more informed and empowered at the neighborhood level. On the South Coast an example of this was the Tuross Giant which served the Tuross Head community for eight years and provided its community with a strong voice to the three levels of government whilst celebrating the many accomplishments within the community to an audience of over 2,500 readers monthly, scattered to the four corners of the globe. The community is news hungry. They want it available 24/7 irrespective of whether they are at home or abroad, they want it to be qualitative and they want it for free. The traditional newspapers can no longer deliver under these terms. Additionally on-line articles are not constrained in length by the size allocated by a newspaper so the whole story can be printed rather than an editor’s precis to suit the page layout. News on the internet can be updated around the clock so that the community can have the most up-to-date news any time of the day or night. The lead time required between occurrence of an event and it being available on the internet has reduced considerably. Front page deadlines for tomorrow’s newspaper are a thing of the past. The type of news and the way it is presented can now be customized to the needs and preferences of individual readers and articles can conveniently refer to additional information related to a news item by using relevant links to other pages on the same site and to other sites. In the new day of on-line news-sources these links can also go to video, soundbites, pod casts or websites from anywhere on the planet. Today’s on-line news is also readily redistributed when readers forward interesting items to others by tagging them in their social media feeds. All of this is impossible with the humble old printed newspaper and because of that the demise of the printed newspaper is fast approaching. On-line can be presented in a rich formats, which in addition to multi-colour printing. It can even have embedded videos. Once a news item is put on the internet, it becomes instantly available around the globe without any additional cost. An on-line news provider can also access detailed data on the popularity of news items. This information directly helps in establishing the audience demand by news-type and assists in improving the presentation of content on the site inclusive of advertising. The Beagle Weekly is just one example of where regional newspapers might be in the future. An excellent example of the new face of metropolitan news is the, the website of the very popular weekly quality hard-copy news magazine “Canberra CityNews” which many readers, outside of hard-copy distribution area of the ACT, enjoy as a flip-book e-zine on-line. provides its readers with the first coverage of breaking news in the Australian Capital Territory. Every weekday the site is updated with original local content and images along with links to stories across the capital. It features news and photos from the ACT and region, commentary blogs from some of Canberra’s best-known and skilled writers; political news and analysis; arts and entertainment news and reviews and features on home, gardening, fashion, health and beauty, plus the latest social photographs. Source

#Opinion #LeiParker #latest #Weekly

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