In the past decade, newspapers have experienced a downward economic trend as readers turn to alternative modes and means of accessing and digesting new media. The digitalization of newspapers and the rapid progression of technology and cultural inclusion of these new technologies have resulted in soaring newsprint prices, slumping ad sales, and a severe drop in circulation and subscriptions. Over the past few years, once prominent and widely disseminated newspapers have had to close, declare bankruptcy, or undergo severe cutbacks in order to stay competitive against the onset of digital media. Since 2001, the newspaper industry has cut over a fifth of its journalist positions, begging the question; if journalism is no longer financially profitable as a profession or industry and consumers begin to turn to free online amateur journalism, how well informed can we be?
Within the industry, there is little consensus as to the best strategy for survival. Some newspapers are attempting to make new digital technologies work for them by adopting e-paper, pay per view, and online subscription models as a means to capitalize off increasing consumer demand for news. Despite newspaper efforts to retain their market share of newsreaders through the incorporation of new technologies in their business models, the once explosive growth of newspaper web revenues has leveled off, leaving the industry unsure of how to increase its profits. It appears that readers are increasingly less willing to pay for their news while information on the web is both plentiful and free.
What concerns me, as a student and researcher of communication, is that if reliable, accountable, and professional journalism becomes replaced by anonymous bloggers with questionable credentials and points of view, what effect will this shift have on our information driven society and culture? My goal for this paper will be to analyze, understand, and explain the cultural and industrial shifts in the newspaper industry that have lead to the rise of print-less journalism, and the effects these changes have and will have on American culture and society. While these goals are lofty and far-reaching, they will be grounded by the specific study of prominent news sources strategies to adapt to their changing environment and the ways that consumers are responding to these strategies.