FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Paperless World

by RAMZY BAROUD

The debate is no longer confined to a few academics in distant universities. It is now a widely prevalent, mainstream topic of discussion.

How will the news of the future be distributed? The jury is still out, but not completely. Increasingly, we are driven to believe that the future will be paperless. Some argue that the “paper” will be taken out of the “newspaper” within a few years. Their logic might have come across as far-fetched in the late 1990s, but it can hardly be dismissed in 2010.

Two American intellectuals added their voices to the chorus of those predicting that the print media would not continue to define the news for long. In October 2009, Leonard Downie Jr., vice president at large and former executive editor of The Washington Post, and Michael Schudson, professor of Communication at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, co-authored a 98-page paper entitled, “The Reconstruction of American Journalism.”

Here, they made the assertion that: “Newspapers and television news are not going to vanish in the foreseeable future … But they will play diminished roles in an emerging and still rapidly changing world of digital journalism, in which the means of news reporting are being re-invented, the character of news is being reconstructed, and reporting is being distributed across a greater number and variety of news organizations, new and old.”

The idea is not a new one. In August 24, 2006, The Economist published an article entitled, “Who killed the newspaper?,” which claimed that, “Of all the ‘old’ media, newspapers have the most to lose from the Internet. Circulation has been falling in America, Western Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand for decades … in the past few years the Web has hastened the decline.”

While we freely refer to the digital media revolution as “new media,” few dare classify print newspapers as “old.” The Economist did, nearly four years ago. Considering the speed at which the digital media world is moving — with the introduction of new gadgets and the level of Internet penetration throughout the world — print papers are now most definitely old and aging.

The magazine also made an interesting reference to Philip Meyer, whose works include, “Precision Journalism: A Reporter’s Introduction to Social Science Methods and Newspaper Ethics in the New Century: A Report to the American Society of Newspaper Editors.”

In his most recent book, “The Vanishing Newspaper,” Meyer calculates that “the first quarter of 2043 will be the moment when newsprint dies in America as the last exhausted reader tosses aside the last crumpled edition.”

More, digital media are making waves not just in the constant improvement of news and information technology, but also influencing the level of trust readers have in the new media. Indeed, it is not just about how the news is conveyed — digitally or on paper — but how our perception of the news is changing altogether.

American intellectual and best-selling author John Mearsheimer didn’t neglect to refer to the Internet in one of the most important and honest assessments on “The Future of Palestine.” In his recent speech, he stated that “The Internet is a game changer. It not only makes it easy for the opponents of apartheid to get the real story out to the world, but it also allows Americans to learn the story that the New York Times and the Washington Post have been hiding from them.”

Those familiar with the book Manufacturing Consent, by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky understand well that traditional media coverage of news is largely determined by “filters” which allow competing interests to determine what we read and watch, and thus our perception of the world. The Internet, despite all its shortcomings, is much more equitable and democratic. That should not discount the fact that poorer countries still do not have the kind of Internet availability, speed and access that is common and widespread in the developed world. But the fact that an online community newspaper has a fighting chance, like any other mainstream newspaper, is certainly worth celebrating as an achievement.

There is also another reason why we will continue to go digital, and why it will only be a matter of years before the pendulum turns in favor of paperless media world.

The latest Climate Change conference in Copenhagen failed to set limits on carbon emissions or to come up with any serious or binding agreements. It was a colossal disappointment. But that failure was political more than scientific. Very few still argue that global warming is a hoax, or believe that the environment is sustainable, considering our long-unchecked way of life. More, recycling is no longer a fad. Some countries are debating laws that make recycling mandatory, and to punish violators. Considering all of this, it is difficult to imagine that years from now we will continue to use and discard newspapers so readily, as if the paper on which news is printed doesn’t come from trees, and as if discarded papers don’t constitute landfill.

Bob Dylan continues to be right. “The Times They Are a-Changin.” And it’s time that we also appreciate that change, not resist it; work with it, not against it. There is no shame in embracing change. When the first commercially successful trans-Atlantic telegraph cable was completed in July 1866, some must have thought that humanity had reached the zenith of achievements as far as the field of communications was concerned. Now telegraphs are only found in museums and are coveted collectors’ items. Instead, hundreds of millions of people routinely and conveniently send texts, sounds, images and videos through their cell phones without much fuss or excitement. Although the concept is still the same, the medium has changed dramatically.

The same can be said about news. The news industry will never die; in fact, in a globalized and interconnected world, we will seek news more than ever before. But the medium will inevitably change, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. It is telling that the most featured and best-selling item from Amazon.com is the Kindle digital reader, and that iPad has been topping news related to publishing technology all around the world.

The Times They Are a-Changin’. And we’d better change accordingly.

 

WORDS THAT STICK

 

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: ramzybaroud.net

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail