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The future of newspaper with the speed of technological advancement

22 October 2014, 21:22

The earliest forerunner of the mass media according to historical records is the print publishing (newspapers). The oldest of which is the News Sheet Bulletin introduced by Julius Caesar in 50BC, whose aim was to inform Romans at home and throughout the entire Roman Empire. Although, the bulletin was handwritten and pasted on notice boards, it was an accessible means of information. The Chinese Ti-Pao was the first newspaper (618 - 910BC) with different Chinese alphabets carved out on blocks of wood but it was limited to the royal courts to relay information. Formal newspaper publication began in Germany in 1605. This was as a result of the metallic movable-type of printing invented by German metalsmith, Johannes Gutenberg in 1440. This invention paved way for the first newspaper, Avisa Relation Order Zeitung (1609) while others followed suit. However, the development of the print media particularly in terms of sourcing and dissemination of news would not have been achievable without some technological inventions. From Gutenberg's movable-type method of printing invented in 1440 to the Web Rotary Press in 1860. The Linotype machine was invented shortly after the WRP so also are the telegraph (1840), typewriter and telephone (1870).

Also read: Newspapers accuse army of seizing print-runs

There is no doubt whatsoever that technology has improved the working conditions of newspaper houses, but recently it has proved to be a threat or perhaps a necessary evil as they (newspaper houses) cannot do without them. The explosion of the internet in the late 1990s and early 21st century has exacerbated the situation as there is a chronic decline in the purchase and patronage of newspapers. Will technological innovations come to a halt at this stage? Obviously, it won't. A research conducted by the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) in 2010, shows that the daily sales of newspapers across the country was less than 300,000. Online media, on the other hand, records massive followership. News consumers prefer social media and online news platforms to print media. The former is said to publish trending news as it breaks while the latter publishes news after 24 hours which affects its recency and freshness as news.

Also read: Google finds its own route with car technology 

Social media and online news platforms also pave way for citizens or readers to engage on an online discussion which makes online media more participatory and could also serve as an opinion poll compared to print media. The challenges the print media is facing is glaring and the possibility of a digital future is inevitable. E-books, smartphones and tablets all give news enthusiasts wide range of digital options for consuming news content. They make convenience, portability and interactivity options available to readers, this, print media cannot provide. Every newspaper will face varied threats and changes. Most newspaper houses attempt to generate a bulk of their revenue from advertising than print sales but it is too early to predict how much ad sales will decline in the print media. The future will be determined by what consumers choose in the nearest future. Perhaps, the newspaper of the future may become hybrid, part-print and part-internet like several newspapers are already practicing in Nigeria (Punch, The Sun, Vanguard and a host of others) while others like News24nigeria, Newsdesk, Naijagist and other cohorts will stick to the internet. Only time can tell. There is also a percentage of news consumers that will refuse to use the internet and digital screens but will prefer hard copies. What will this percentage be? The answer is still in obscurity.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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