My purpose here is to share my views of significant social and economic influence to familiarize you with its concern.
Many printed newspapers are struggling to compete with online publishing. The major impact is due to the technology available on the Internet that allows targeting the news, and the advertising, to its audience.
In this article, I compare the two mediums.
How Journalists Compete
Journalists can focus on their reader's interests better with online news services. Online journalists appeal to readers well, but can small-town newspapers fill a niche that news websites can't touch?
Many rural districts don't have adequate Internet Broadband to all the homes.1 These customers need to get their local paper to keep abreast of events close to home. Some small towns don't even have websites, or they don't maintain them to keep the information up to date. So local newspapers may still have an advantage.
Google provides local responses to search queries. However, this is only useful if people have Internet access. Online capability is becoming more available as cable and satellite companies expand their services, so the game is changing.
Improved Search Results Provide Better Quality Articles Online
Google always attempts to deliver quality content in search results. A major impact to low-quality articles occurred in February 2011, with modifications to their search algorithm known as the Panda Update.2
Once perfected, this was meant to deliver better quality to search results. Later, in 2012, they introduced the Penguin update to their search algorithm, which focused on eliminating spammy content that offers no value to the reader.
Google also experimented with "Google Authorship Markup," which allows authors of online articles to build a reputation for all their written content.
This reputation affects the ranking of their articles based on acknowledged authority, determined by reader activity.
In 2011 Google added the +1 button to register reader approval with articles they read online, another form of determining quality.
In January 2012, Google added “Search Plus Your World,” so when one uses Google to get answers to questions, the search results will be specific to their likes and interests.
The point I'm making is that print newspapers will have to struggle to survive, especially local versions. They will have to redefine their business strategy to compete with the latest technology of Internet Search.
Difference Between Online News and Printed Newspaper
The concept of online news sites that many old-time newspapers are experimenting with is in vain. They let visitors read a few articles before blocking them and requiring a paid online subscription.
They don’t understand that people can simply go back to their favorite search engine and find links to other websites with the news they want to read.
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That brings up another point. Newspapers are full of unwanted extra sections that are of no interest to the subscriber. They only add to the garbage dumps or have to be stored in piles waiting for the next recycling day.
People don't want to deal with that anymore, and with the technology we have today, they don't have to.
Printed newspapers started containing more unwanted content than what people wanted. They have become too big and bulky. In the December 16, 2010 issue of the London Review of Books, I read that the Sunday New York Times is so big that there were stories of paperboys throwing it and accidentally killing the family dog.
It’s easier to carry a tablet or a smartphone and get the news you want, rather than an entire newspaper that has articles you’re not at all interested in reading—not to mention those inky hands from the newspaper print.
Reading News Online Instead of Newspaper
When one uses search engines, they are looking for something specific. However, when one reads a print newspaper, they may see an article title mentioning something intriguing that catches attention.
Some people enjoy discovering the unexpected, but that happens online too. When I search for things online, I have to maintain a focus, or else I go off on all sorts of tangents.
News is usually attainable faster online. It takes time to print a newspaper and deliver it. Many times people can't wait for a print newspaper to come out. They go to Google and search "latest news." Google is good at indexing important world news within seconds.3
It all boils down to preference and comfort level. Different people prefer one to the other for personal reasons. What might be an advantage for one person might be a disadvantage for another.
Why Small-Town Newspapers Have an Advantage
Many search engines use technology to deliver local related results with searches. But small towns without Internet access don't have access to that.
Although broadband Internet is slowly spreading to all corners of the world, many small towns miss out on it because it’s not cost-effective to install broadband capabilities for a small population. It’s expensive to bring fiber to each home when they are scattered few and far between.
It is helpful for residents in rural areas to get information on local activities. If the Internet is not accessible, then the technology Google and other search engines are creating will not be available.
However, Broadband Internet is already penetrating small towns and will provide low-cost access to each home.4 That may eventually hurt small-town newspapers too.
Progress is not happening everywhere, however. So locally printed newspapers in those locations may continue to survive because they are desperately needed. But will that change?
Comparison of Online and Local Print Newspapers
New technologies, such as "4G LTE," provide broadband at speeds comparable to fiber but are cheaper and easier to connect to rural residents. "LTE" stands for Long Term Evolution.In addition, 5G will soon provide even faster broadband speeds.5
WiFi is another method that cuts costs and can share broadband among several subscribers in a close area.
As the cost of the equipment decreases and new technology for delivering broadband to the home becomes available, small towns in rural areas will soon have high-speed Internet access.
Many companies are building out their LTE networks to provide wireless ISP, eliminating the need to run fiber to each home. But that isn't happening as well as desired.
Clearwire intended for nationwide coverage by 2017 with their 4G service, known as Clear. On July 9, 2013, Sprint Nextel acquired all shares of Clearwire Corporation. However, on November 6, 2015, Sprint ceased operations of the Clearwire Network.6
Another company, Stelera Wireless, is actively working on delivering 5G to rural areas with their multi-network 5G vehicle router that is already available.7
Based on the lower cost of broadband and new technology, print newspapers will have to work hard for survival—even in small towns.
Times are changing. Online activities are becoming more available these days, even in rural areas. It’s easier for readers to find the news they want to have at their fingertips.
- Lauren Gibbons. (June 29, 2018). “Rural Communities Suffer the Most Without Access to the Web” - govtech.com
- “What is Google Panda?” (February 23, 2011) - moz.com
- Neil Patel. “How to Get Google to Instantly Index Your New Website” - neilpatel.com
- Mark Sullivan. (March 13, 2018). “This New Wave Of Satellite Broadband Could Challenge Cable And Fiber” - Fast Company
- Charlie Osborne. (July 28, 2020). “5G expected to account for 21% of all wireless infrastructure investment this year” - zdnet.com
- Chris Dunphy. (April 15, 2015). “Clearwire Going Clear Away – Formal WiMAX Shutdown Scheduled for November” - Mobile Internet Resource Center
- "Start your 5G Future with Sierra." - Sierra Wireless Website
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2012 Glenn Stok