There is no question that the news industry has advanced tremendously over the past two-hundred years since newspapers became popular in the United States. What began as periodically-occurring newssheets in the 1700s has transformed into a persistent twenty-four hour news cycle that Benjamin Franklin would barely recognize. Technological changes have greatly altered the practices of our society, and the news process did not escape such drastic alterations, particularly with the addition of the internet to the list of informational sources. The World Wide Web left traditional media scrambling to catch up and, in order to compete with the internet, forced it to diversify narrower than ever before, while questioning how this new online format was supposed to bring in a profit.
The invention and development of the internet has spawned a niche market for almost everything one could think of, with an infinite number of websites and the ability to make a site for any chosen topic, no matter bizarre it may seem. Where previously new technology spurred small bouts of diversification throughout history, the internet nearly obliterates the need for mass communication due to its endless nooks and crannies. There is now an online resource for any type of news, and traditional news sources like newspapers have struggled to keep up with the online world. In the past, where it was common for towns to have one or two weekly papers, cities like Indianapolis now have a total of nine in circulation at any given time, most with a very specific audience in mind (USNPL, 2015). A great example of this diversification is the Indianapolis publication Nuvo Newsweekly, the self-described “alternative voice” of the city, with its writers offering up relentlessly honest articles on everything from liberal hatred of Republican political strategies to challenging whether or not Instagram photos should be considered art (Dolan, 2015). Nuvo is anything but an average newspaper, blatantly targeting the liberal Democratic sector of Indianapolis, and it does a fantastic job of competing with the stylishly biased sources of the internet, right down to the creative opinions its writers craft, closely mimicking that of a blog. Of course, even once traditional media found a way to match the infiniteness of the web, broadcasters and print publishers alike were still hemorrhaging profit in a way that closely matched the blood loss of a Tarantino movie.
The early 2000s caused such an urgency to get everything online that news stations conjured up websites faster than anyone could say the word ‘profit’, and as a result, the industry took a huge hit to the wallet they’re still attempting to make up for ten years later. In the short amount of time it took newspapers like the Indy Star to have a website up and running, the thought of a pay wall was all but forgotten, such was the fate of papers across the United States. Once the error had been realized, newspapers were once again frantic, this time rushing to build pay walls and keep people from accessing news for free. As we now know, the internet became so popular because it was difficult to charge people for accessing sites, (AOL’s ‘walled garden’ concept), and despite the addition of online subscriptions that limit the access of readers, it is always possible to find the news story one wants to read from a different, free source. Not only did the news industry lose money due to the ease of access for online information, it has been persistently pick-pocketed by the sudden scarcity of advertising available. Just as with news, advertising too went digital, taking with it the need for classified ads. The diversification of news also led to the divergence of commercials, with companies targeting only those news outlets that pertain to their primary market, and with the internet’s ability to track people’s favorite sites and searches, it functions as the ultimate form of micro-targeting. As a result, newspapers across the nation to teamed up with websites like www.monster.com, which boasts the nation’s largest newspaper partner recruitment network, to attempt to regain some lost profit from a lack of classifieds (Monster, 2015). This solution, while not the most productive for newspapers, is the best of the situation and makes up an adequate amount of profit in comparison to the lack of revenue companies would see without such compromises.
All in all, the industry has adapted, though somewhat haphazardly, to the immense technological changes that have swept over the United States in the past two-hundred years since newspapers became a consistent addition to everyday life. The news process, while it was unable to escape drastic alteration, will continue to live prosperously as long as its mediators remain educated on advances in society. The World Wide Web might have initially left traditional media scrambling to catch up, but after a decade of revolutionized relaying of information, it has become clear that though the industry will need to remain open to adaptation, it will always be a central part of modern society.
Dolan, S. (2015, September 23). Kicking and Screaming Til They Get Their Way. Nuvo Newsweekly, pp. 3-4.
Monster. (2015, May). Alliances and Partnerships. Retrieved from Monster.com: http://partner.monster.com/newspapers
USNPL. (2015). Indiana Newspapers. Retrieved from USNPL: http://www.usnpl.com/innews.php