This week, with the smell of the newspaper crisis in the air, I typed the following question in on Google in English: "Is the print media in danger of extinction?" To my surprise, within a few seconds I received over 60 million links. This fact not only made the Encyclopedia Britannica superfluous, it made the whole print media superfluous.
Peter Preston, a former editor of The Guardian, said the press' future is in danger. The London Times, The Telegraph and The Observer are liable to close within 10 years due to the advertising decline. For every dollar they take in they lose 10. Who's to blame? The Internet - the technology preferred by young people today.
The news from Philadelphia, for example, is that there is less and less news. The two major newspapers (The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News ) have filed for bankruptcy protection. The same is true of The Minneapolis Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune. Quite a few newspapers have become weeklies.
The print media has been dominated by a middle class elite. Le Monde and The Times have followed a politically balanced policy and benefited from a romantic tradition of regular readers with moderate political tendencies. Now they are fighting for their existence. The New York Times is in trouble, too. Its management refused to answer a senior reporter's question about the newspaper's condition. The papers I have listed can publish in-depth analyses about the political and economic situation in Greece, for example. On Twitter it will be summed up in a few lines.
Abe Rosenthal, the editor of The New York Times for many years, said he couldn't imagine a world without The Times, but we should get used to that possibility. Many investors around the world are willing to buy newspapers like The Times simply for prestige and collecting for its own sake, but despite its name it wouldn't be the same paper. Its collapse would change people's lifelong habits: leafing through the news pages in the morning, reading the opinion pieces in the evening and saving the weekend edition for Sunday night. Magazines and newspapers can be saved at home for months and years, while the Internet melts away immediately. You heard, you read, you forgot. Not to mention that it also spreads viruses.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer predicted in an interview with The Washington Post that the print media in all forms will disappear within 10 years. Why? Because everything will be electronic? Modesty isn't the strong suit of e-whizzes. Their endless appetite for innovation will eventually arouse longing for print journalism, until the plague passes. The Times' Internet edition already has 20 million visitors. But the newspaper, which is also having financial problems, is still far superior.
The first book in the Harry Potter series was published in 1997, a year before the birth of Google. It brought millions of children back to books and revived the movie industry, which was already said to be dying when television was invented. Movies didn't die - the producers switched to 3D technology and a wide screen. But above all, they switched to making high-quality films that can be enjoyed only on a wide screen. Many people preferred going to the movies to watching at home on DVD players and iPods. Don't bring out the coffin for movies just yet.
The print journalism that accompanied the establishment of the state was basically party-oriented. Every party had a newspaper. And there are unbelievable stories about them.
We won't mention here the name of the editor who on the day of the Nazi invasion of Poland led with a speech by Tel Aviv Mayor Israel Rokach in the newspaper Haboker. When asked how he made such a blooper, he said: I wanted to spare myself a phone call from Rokach.
In a country where every party has a newspaper, Haaretz remains the only independent Zionist newspaper. The two evening newspapers became popular because of their extreme caution in avoiding any insult to the government. That consideration has never existed at Haaretz, and what is happening to it now is part of the worldwide phenomenon.
But to all politicians everywhere let it be said: Don't rub your hands in glee. A genuine fighting press will not disappear.
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