November 12, 2005 in hope for the future
Aside from serious tweaking efforts in design, demographic targeting and content refocusing, traditional newspapers today remain relatively unchanged from their predecessors 40 years ago. What has undeniably changed, however, is the audience. Media consumers have entirely new information seeking habits and very different expectations for their information delivery systems. This is especially true for the younger demographic, including those who make up the majority of our college campus populations. #
There is evidence that readers are gravitating away from traditional newspapers for a couple of reasons. The first is technology. We live in a high-speed, on-demand world. Often it is the case that consumers will have been alerted to breaking news by television, radio, online, cell phone text messages and other delivery methods long before they will see a report in a printed newspaper. A second cause for the departure of readers is simply the poor quality of content in many newspapers. The rash of recent blunders on the part of the media has added to this decline. #
Each year colleges and universities admit a freshman class that includes fewer and fewer habitual print newspaper readers. Without readers, print media is irrelevant. Without readers, advertising and subscription revenue disappears. Without readers, newspapers die. This poses three serious problems for college media: #
- How do we attract these students to our publications and convert them to print readers?
- How do we recruit students to join the staff of our publications if the experience is perceived to be antiquated?
- How can we be responsible journalism educators unless our student media operations prepare students for the future of media instead of its past?