Paperless news?

IT’S BEEN a rapid and painful death for print in the West during the past decade.

It started when newspapers started collapsing — one after another began losing advertisers, market revenue and readers in the Internet age. In fact, with 105 newspapers shuttered and 10,000 newspaper jobs lost in the US in 2009, the Business Insider declared the latter the “year the newspaper died”. Amidst plummeting stock market value of newspapers, owners of Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal chose to sell off the majority of the their holding. The renowned New York Times Company has been witnessing a major decline in its stock since 2004.

Other print houses on the brink of a financial crisis, were quick to see the writing on the wall and thus switched their operations online. Amongst the hundreds that did, Christian Science Monitor is a recognised name worldwide; the paper shut down its print edition in 2008.

However, now it seems like even magazines are not insulated from financial woes of the print industry. From a traditional perspective, it’s difficult to conceptualise a paperless magazine. After all, the artistic design, interesting graphics and eye-catching adverts laid — all laid out on glossy paper — are integral features of a magazine. But in today’s digital age, that’s not the case anymore. Magazines have also been slowly making a move online. And now it’s none other than Newsweek that will be shutting down its print edition after 80 years. The magazine’s editor-in-chief Tina Brown has signified that this move aims to “embrace the all-digital future”. Newsweek merged with the Internet group the Daily Beast two years ago and has been experiencing a rise in internet traffic on its site ever since. Conversely, its print edition has been suffering from declining circulation and advertising revenues. Hence, its decision to shut down its print edition.

Even though the glossiness and visual appeal of magazines is failing to draw readers in the West, print is still in business in Asia at least. Readers in South Asia and the Middle East still like to skim over a newspaper’s headlines with their morning tea or read an interesting magazine feature at leisure on a lazy Saturday afternoon. The digital revolution in journalism will definitely hit publishing houses in Asia in the future — but there’s still time for that.

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