New media offers people 24-hour-a-day access to news and information. It is easy to find out what is going on in places both near and far with just the push of a button. If digital access is so easy, is there still a need for printed news? The answer, surprisingly, might be “yes.” Statistics show that even people who own multiple electronic devices still read the newspaper. They may rely on digital access to keep up with a news story during the day, but that does not seem to affect the percentage of those who rely on print news.
There is no question that newspaper circulation has declined with the steady increase of digitally accessed news. But that doesn’t mean that people are not reading the paper. We are finding, however, that not all newspapers are handling the new media onslaught in the same way. Many large city newspapers are struggling, yet some small, rural papers are seeing increases in their circulation numbers.
In urban areas, the decline in readership may be related to the easy access to online news. National news, political stories, and big-city crimes are usually front-page news, and these types of stories are also well-covered by national news outlets online. The stories are essentially the same, regardless of what outlet you opt for.
On the other hand, small-town newspapers can have a more personal feel, since they’re covering local communities. It is not uncommon to pick up a rural, small-town paper and find a front-page story that relates to families or good deeds in the community. Families read the paper to learn about issues that are personally relevant to them. Stories about their families or their neighbors are an attraction and may encourage people to purchase more printed copies of newspapers.
Newspapers, large and small, are struggling to compete in the digital age. There is a limit to how much people are willing to pay for a newspaper, especially when national and international news stories are available for free online. Advertisers are also a little harder to find than they used to be: As newspaper circulation declines, businesses choose to advertise with other outlets in order to reach the most potential customers. But for many people, regardless of the issues facing the newspaper industry, nothing will ever replace holding a newspaper in their hands and getting the news in print every morning.