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Topic Title: E&T magazine - Debate - Are printed newspapers doomed? Should they all go digital?
Topic Summary: We may live in a digital age, but printed newspapers are part of our culture and are here to stay
Created On: 19 December 2012 11:21 AM
Status: Read Only
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 19 December 2012 11:21 AM
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jpwilson

Posts: 64
Joined: 16 May 2007

For:
We may live in a digital age, but printed newspapers are part of our culture and are here to stay.

Against:
For newspapers to work in the digital age, they need to go online in tablet-friendly form.

The argument for:
We can debate the state of the technology and the quality of the content while lamenting that the problem with the future is that it never arrives on time. But the real issue is what the consumer wants. In the past, despite the leading-edge technology available, the public rejected laser disc, minidisc and digital audio tape. Just didn't want it, and I think that is what will happen with this question. We've had newspapers a long time and they aren't going away in the near future.

The argument against:
We are now seeing content being adapted to the strengths of smartphones and tablets - interactivity, link following, comment leaving and so on - which means that it is gaining ground. Link that to the ubiquity and price watersheds and the case is closed. We're in a position we can't go back on. The paper newspaper will rapidly decline and as we switch to our mobile devices we'll find that our news needs will be serviced better.

Edited: 19 December 2012 at 12:17 PM by jpwilson
 19 December 2012 11:56 AM
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amillar

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My 15 year old son (who seems to spend most of his life glued to a screen) was researching for a school project at the weekend. His comment: "it's really hard reading off a screen".

With newspapers it's even worse: reading on a screen - of any sort - is fine if you know exactly what you're looking for. The joy of a real newspaper is that you spot things in passing that you would not expected to find.

Perhaps more relevant to our profession are catalogues. If I am searching for a component, but don't know quite what I am looking for, I always reach for the paper catalogues from two very well-known distributers of electronic components. I have tried many different search engines, but flicking through a catalogue is still quicker and more likely to find what I want.

Sadly I think print media is coming to the end of its life for cost reasons. Now, if I'm reading something sequentially, or searching where I know exactly what I'm looking for, then electronic media has many advantages, and I use it all the time. But I've never yet seen a system which allows for browsing in the same way...yet.

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert

Edited: 19 December 2012 at 12:03 PM by amillar
 19 December 2012 01:58 PM
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hamishbell

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We need a 'serendipity' app.

Regards
Hamish

-------------------------
Hamish V Bell, BSc, CEng, FIET, FCQI, CQP
2007 - 2010, Vice President and Trustee
 19 December 2012 02:01 PM
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hamishbell

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OTH the BBC News on a tablet is prettty cool; a picture, a headline, and a quick finger-flick and you can quickly review the stories under various headings in no time at all. Perhaps it's the publisher process which needs to adapt.
Regards
Hamish.

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Hamish V Bell, BSc, CEng, FIET, FCQI, CQP
2007 - 2010, Vice President and Trustee
 19 December 2012 02:32 PM
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amillar

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Originally posted by: hamishbell
We need a 'serendipity' app.

Whcih various websites are, of course, trying to do..."if you liked that you might like this." But I find them too accurate, often the stories that grab my interest are those that are completely unrelated to my normal interests, just happen to be near another story I'm reading. (I also have the terrible habit of spotting interesting headlines in papers that other people are reading on trains).

I do get concerned that with the digital age it's increasingly easy only to read the type of things we always read, which gives a very narrow view of the world. I'm not saying it's deliberate, just a natural consequence of targetting media content in a way that is intended to be helpful (or at least to make those websites more popular ).

Mind you, I'm probably being a bit rose tinted here, given the narrow editorial focus of most newspapers. Hence I too like the BBC: any news organisation that gets routinely criticised for being too right wing and too left wing has probably got it about right

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 19 December 2012 03:01 PM
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hamishbell

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Hence my serendipity comment. Not something the same subject, or an alternative, just something which might be triggered "serendipitously" as when looking for words in a dictionary. I rarely find the word I want, but find lots of interesting ones instead - then forget which one I'm looking for!
Hamish

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Hamish V Bell, BSc, CEng, FIET, FCQI, CQP
2007 - 2010, Vice President and Trustee
 20 December 2012 08:56 PM
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Johnfwells

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This is my very first post for the IET, so forgive me if I am not writing this in the right place.
I worked in IT for some 20 years before retiring - as a consultant beavering away supplying colleagues with endless analytical reports - both on paper and online - and developing various drill down tools. Back in 1980 - as a very early adopter of email I was convinced that online systems and information retrieval were the way to go. Thirty years later the game has changed of course, but one or two things have not, and now I am not so sure, despite having developed several GUI-based systems.
Here's why: My wife is a crossword fanatic and regularly spends an hour or so doing the Telegraph crossword. I wonder how that works on a Kindle...
And snippets are often taken and kept (recipes; book reviews). Oh - and you can't easily tear the screen off to give to a friend.
Before I forget: I have both Kindle and iPad as well as two laptops; a netbook and a desktop. And I am quite convinced that the tablet with touch screen is a revolution which will ultimately speed the demise of the QWERTY (or QWERTZ or AZERTY) keyboard.
 21 December 2012 12:40 AM
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jencam

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Circulation of anti-BNP newspapers declined again in October

Originally posted by: amillar
I do get concerned that with the digital age it's increasingly easy only to read the type of things we always read, which gives a very narrow view of the world. I'm not saying it's deliberate, just a natural consequence of targetting media content in a way that is intended to be helpful (or at least to make those websites more popular ).


The digital age provides the opportunity to obtain news and information from a far greater variety of sources than in the past. I have almost completely given up on the heavily biased and corrupt British mainstream media and I prefer to obtain information from alternative sources and foreign media outfits like Press TV or Russia Today.

A survey carried out of Y6 children in my locality has revealed that youngsters are turning their back on the mainstream media. Reading newspapers has declined steeply over the past 10 years; YouTube is now more popular than ITV or C4; and that the top 25 TV channels now includes at least one Islamic TV channel.
 21 December 2012 08:42 AM
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ectophile

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The problem is that the media that you disagree with are always "biased and corrupt", but not the ones whose opinions you agree with. So we are likely to end up with a more polarised range of news sources, all aimed at the people who already hold their views.

I think the declining coverage of the BNP is down to their increasing irrelevance. Every now and then, they will put up a few candidates in the borough where I live. These elections are the usual tedious affairs with the same slanging matches between Labour and the Conservatives. But the highlight of the election evening is always seeing the BNP come last in every constituency, yet again.

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S P Barker BSc PhD MIET
 26 December 2012 10:53 PM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: ectophile
The problem is that the media that you disagree with are always "biased and corrupt", but not the ones whose opinions you agree with.


There is no such thing as completely unbiased and impartial news sources. Anybody who thinks otherwise is just kidding themself. Where exactly did I say that I agree with any opinions? I stated that I prefer to obtain information from alternative sources and foreign media outfits rather than the British mainstream media, but I never said that I agree with everything that they publish.

So we are likely to end up with a more polarised range of news sources, all aimed at the people who already hold their views.


What the public now have is the greatest variety of media sources ever in history which enables them to look at news from many perspectives. Foreign and alternative news sources also cover events ignored by the British mainstream media.

I think the declining coverage of the BNP is down to their increasing irrelevance. Every now and then, they will put up a few candidates in the borough where I live. These elections are the usual tedious affairs with the same slanging matches between Labour and the Conservatives. But the highlight of the election evening is always seeing the BNP come last in every constituency, yet again.


You misinterpreted what I wrote. I stated that the BNP have reported that sales of newspapers hostile towards the BNP have fallen in October. I did not say anything about the amount of media coverage the BNP is getting.

There are reasons why the BNP has declined in the past two years but this is a subject to discuss elsewhere. I know them very well.
 28 December 2012 01:04 PM
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SMUGS1

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Unfortunately, newspapers will go the same way as doorstep milk deliveries. If you look at local newspapers, they used to be a daily issue now they are weekly soon to be probably monthly. The cost of producing a newspaper and delivering it to retail outlets is too expensive, archiving and storage is the same, libraries as we know them now will go the same way. You only have to look at the number of users of e-readers that are in use to see where it is going.

I visit the USA yearly and have seen that the number of people of all age groups that actually read a newspaper has diminished in the last twenty years. The only thing that has kept many in circulation are the money off coupons, and since these can be obtained on your mobile phone from the advertiser who needs a clipped coupon - no one.

The newspaper in a first world country is all but dead, in second and third world countries they will continue until they have electronic means. If you solely require a newspaper to do a crossword they are available online and if you have a recipe that you must save there are ways to electronically store and or send this to friends.
 31 December 2012 11:46 AM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: SMUGS1
Unfortunately, newspapers will go the same way as doorstep milk deliveries.


Niche products for enthusiasts past the age of 40 who like to pay a bit extra for their services?!

There used to be about 6 or 7 companies delivering milk in my locality about 20 years ago but now only two seem to exist and they only deliver to a select few neighbourhoods and large users like coffee shops. When my son was at primary school the children's milk came in cute little bottles delivered every day by a local company that no longer exists.

If you look at local newspapers, they used to be a daily issue now they are weekly soon to be probably monthly. The cost of producing a newspaper and delivering it to retail outlets is too expensive, archiving and storage is the same


Newspapers make their money from advertising. The majority of the cover price goes to the retailer and the delivery company. Falling sales discourage advertisers from paying the high prices that they paid in the past.

I visit the USA yearly and have seen that the number of people of all age groups that actually read a newspaper has diminished in the last twenty years.


You have to be a bit careful when making a comparison between the UK and the US because the UK has several national dailies each with its own demographic target audience, whereas newspapers in the US tend to be localised and designed to be everything to everybody.
 31 December 2012 02:24 PM
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SMUGS1

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The future for newspapers is not going to be hard copy as it is now. Electronic coverage is indicated by the direction of the under forties interests and views.

The revenue for news gathers from subscription will tend to be from citizens with specialised needs - whatever that may entail.

The only problem will be when every news and literally item is stored electronically and access is denied.

 31 December 2012 04:16 PM
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Roundtrip

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Another important factor causing the decline of real world newspaper sales is the standard of journalism. There are some newspapers I would never buy due to the tabloid quality journalism and others I refuse to buy due to the editorial bias.

BBC Radio Scotland had an interesting show on yesterday morning about the news media and the rise of citizen journalism within a Scottish context. You may still find this an interesting 60 mins of listening even if you aren't based in Scotland. It was a very good show which I commend to you for your listening pleasure.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/e...Headlines_30_12_2012/

In Scotland there is also declining sales as pro-independence supporters abandon buying pro-union newspapers - which is almost all of them!

It is interesting to watch newspapers like the Scotsman sales declining more and more as they alienate a substantial section of their readership with the biased news output. There is even an active campaign to stay away from their website, where all content is given away for free, to reduce the online advertising revenue. It is sad to see a once great newspaper being destroyed by journalists who cannot see the wood for the trees. There would be few tears in Scotland if the doors of the Scotsman were to shut tomorrow, never to open ever again!

Other newspapers such as The Herald and The Scottish Sun are heading in the right direction to bring balance to an important debate therefore their sales aren't collapsing at all. Even the Daily Record has woken up to the fact that it needs to be more balanced in its political news coverage therefore slowing down the sales decline.

I even subscribed to The Herald's online edition last year as they were producing an overall balanced product. Reminds me the annual renewal will be due very soon.

The point I'm making is people will always be willing to pay for high quality journalism in print and online.

In the interest of disclosure I'm an active campaigner to bring balance to political reporting in Scotland have appeared on the BBC in relation to the subject and write occasion articles for Newsnet Scotland and other political websites.

-------------------------
Best wishes & regards

John A Thomson
allayit
 31 December 2012 04:58 PM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: Roundtrip
Another important factor causing the decline of real world newspaper sales is the standard of journalism. There are some newspapers I would never buy due to the tabloid quality journalism and others I refuse to buy due to the editorial bias.


One of my biggest complaints is the amount of copycat journalism which takes place where one media corporation copies the news of another media corporation rather than obtains their news from a primary source using their own journalists and cameramen. The (alleged) assassination of Bin Laden was probably the most blatant example of this in recent times. An event that lacked transparency with little in the way of verified factual information became front page news in countless newspapers that did not have journalists working in Abbottabad at the time who witnessed what had really happened.

The point I'm making is people will always be willing to pay for high quality journalism in print and online.


Not quite. Popular opinion almost always manages to overshadows high quality when money is involved.
 04 January 2013 09:15 AM
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SMUGS1

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From the topic of 'will newspapers still be available in hard copy', in the future, the discussion has drifted towards how newspapers handle the news; biased left or right politically. The same can be said for electronic copy. The real benefit of electronic presentation is the quick response from the readership, as is shown in this forum. Readers can present their point of view whilst the topic is still current.
 04 January 2013 11:56 AM
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Roundtrip

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Originally posted by: jencam

Not quite. Popular opinion almost always manages to overshadows high quality when money is involved.


I wasn't saying everyone will be happy to pay for high quality journalism but there are many people out there who are willing to pay for it - myself included.


Originally posted by: SMUGS1

From the topic of 'will newspapers still be available in hard copy', in the future, the discussion has drifted towards how newspapers handle the news; biased left or right politically. The same can be said for electronic copy. The real benefit of electronic presentation is the quick response from the readership, as is shown in this forum. Readers can present their point of view whilst the topic is still current.


For this to be really effective, the reader comments need to be available with the original article. In most cases the main stream media are good at offering this facility.

However there is one major deficit that for people in Scotland is a real cause for deep concern - BBC in Scotland online content. The blogs of the political editor and business editor no longer allow comments whereas nearly every other BBC blog across the planet does!

See my appearance on BBC Newswatch in relation to this item:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmdRnb3Ic7M


Note: The Newswatch production team told me it is normal for a BBC production team to issue a statement when they don't have a defendable position on the point being challenged!

As many people are now using the free content from the BBC, something the papers have been complaining about for some time, the BBC's news reporting and mechanisms for public feedback are very important and require scrutiny. It is, after all, our license fee/tax (delete as you feel appropriate) money that is paying for the service.

Even more interesting was last month's Constitutional Convention debate held in the Scottish Parliament that asked about the future for broadcasting in Scotand. Some very educational and enlightening viewing for anyone interested in our state broadcaster.

http://www.newsnetscotland.com...oadcasting-in-scotland

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Best wishes & regards

John A Thomson
allayit
 06 January 2013 02:01 PM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: Roundtrip
I wasn't saying everyone will be happy to pay for high quality journalism but there are many people out there who are willing to pay for it - myself included.


I'm happy to pay money for good quality journalism but I have always suspected that I have been a minority.

From the topic of 'will newspapers still be available in hard copy', in the future, the discussion has drifted towards how newspapers handle the news; biased left or right politically.


It's more sophisticated that that. People can hold a syncretic stance. So can news sources.

For this to be really effective, the reader comments need to be available with the original article. In most cases the main stream media are good at offering this facility.


I sincerely hope you are aware that some people are paid £££ to post comments on articles - either by the media outfit itself or by third party organisations. Israel even has a team of 'cyber warriors' posting articles to all manner of news websites who are comprised of injured soldiers no longer able to continue with conventional military duties!!

Some media outfits severely restrict comments to those which sympathise with the article and eliminate comments which are critical or expose inconvenient truths. They might just let a couple of mildly critical comments in to balance things out and disguise censoring efforts.

All in all I think that comments facilities can be dangerous because if the average joe reads an article that he is unsure about or disagrees with then finds hundreds of comments to back it up then it has the potential to make him think that he is a minority, when in reality, everything could have been fabricated.
 11 January 2013 12:46 PM
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SMUGS1

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The replies posted by members Roundtrip and Jencam are pointing in roughly the same direction, that being someone, group or country 'may, will or can' take control of a forum and mislead, protect or project their thoughts for their own benefit. Yes, that has always been true no matter what medium is used to convey thoughts. What should we do? Have no interchange; only let people that have a certain I.Q. or thought process, take part in the discussion? I feel that this would not get very far. Yes, there have always been people that do not go with the flow - some are geniuses and others are charlatans, the readers need to be able to spot the later.
 11 January 2013 03:23 PM
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SMUGS1

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Originally posted by: SMUGS1

The replies posted by members Roundtrip and Jencam are pointing in roughly the same direction, that being someone, group or country 'may, will or can' take control of a forum and mislead, protect or project their thoughts for their own benefit. Yes, that has always been true no matter what medium is used to convey thoughts. What should we do? Have no interchange; only let people that have a certain I.Q. or thought process, take part in the discussion? I feel that this would not get very far. Yes, there have always been people that do not go with the flow - some are geniuses and others are charlatans, the readers need to be able to spot the latter.
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