The newspaper has been an integral part of the lives of people over the past few decades stretching as far back as 1605, not to mention that it has also been one of the many social elements which have contributed largely to the sharpening of the awareness of the public. Much of the purpose of the newspaper remains to this day focused on publicizing news and current events and other information which can hold the general interest of the public. Newspapers are also used for advertising purposes as well as for the public announcement of recent events in the society.
Apparently, newspapers now face the threat of extinction brought by the same technology that has catapulted it to mass production. There is hardly any agreeable or concrete proof regarding the exact origins of the newspaper although there are several explanations being given. For one, it is argued that Julius Caesar during ancient Rome was keen to give government announcement bulletins etched or carved on stones or metal (Tolbert & McNeal, 2003, p. 177).
Public government announcements were also an integral part of the early Chinese civilization; government news and other announcements to be read by other government officials as well as other significant people were written on silk. It is clear that the early forms of newspaper have been primarily used for the dispersal of news items. In more recent times, however, newspapers have evolved dramatically. The mass production of newspapers in modern times is perhaps one of the most noticeable changes in the ‘trend’ among newspapers from the time it was conceived.
Newspapers are no longer handwritten but are now mass produced through the use of complex printing machineries. This gives newspapers the capacity to reach farther places and distant societies in informing the people of the current events, new, and public announcements. With the advent of technology, the aesthetic designs of newspapers have also gradually evolved throughout generations (Jerit, Barabas & Bolsen, 2007, p. 268). This goes without saying that the content of the newspapers have also expanded instead of just including just the typical straight news.
We now have special features section, lifestyle and fashion, music and entertainment and almost every other topic that can be included in the newspaper. In contrast to earlier times, modern newspapers now have sections with colors instead of the ordinary black print. It is the same advent of technology that poses the greatest threat of extinction to newspapers, especially in societies with the most complex and advanced forms of technology.
Although we now have the latest forms of printing machineries that will create the possibility of further increase the mass production of newspapers, technology has also produced the greatest ‘rival’ for newspapers—the internet. The internet has created many avenues for the swift exposure of current events across geographical borders. It has also provided ease of access for individuals regardless of religion, age and gender in accessing the most recent news that may have occurred miles away from them.
These are also just some of the advantages of the internet when it comes to the relay of information across huge distances. More importantly, the internet or websites can be updated almost every minute of every hour, twenty-four hours a day. Unlike the internet or websites, newspapers do not have the capability to be updated at such a frequency right after they are published and distributed. Moreover, almost any other person under the right circumstances can post in websites the recent events that are proximal to the person’s community.
This is perhaps another advantage of the internet precisely because even the most remote events can be learned about by the average individual who might find the event relatively useful or significant. It is not a hidden fact that the internet has been rapidly increasing its reaches over the past few years. Third-world countries such as India and the Philippines are experiencing the continuous improvements in the internet, and the span of people across different shapes and sizes that have connections to the internet are increasing on a daily basis.
Given this observation, it becomes apparent that the internet indeed poses a serious threat to the function of the newspaper in the daily lives of men. It should also be noted that news and current events do not happen a predetermined time and that there are no solid bases in determining when and where the most recent information will surface. In fact, updates to crucial social issues spring more than once a day, more than the frequency that newspapers are released on a single day.
By the time the recent news item has surfaced, the internet may have already followed these current events whereas newspapers would have to wait until the next day in order to publish these items. Moreover, the spaces provided by newspapers for news are limited at least in terms of physical dimension. This is the part where the internet holds a considerable advantage simply because the internet has an almost unlimited posting space for news items. However, there is at least one perceivable disadvantage of the internet in contrast to the capabilities of newspapers.
This disadvantage rests on the fact that almost anybody can post information in the internet whether or not the information is relevant or holds any substance and credibility for that matter (Bower, 2000. p. 135). Newspapers, on the other hand, do not merely print and publish news items which are not credible and which do not hold substance. That is, the abundance of possible ‘news reporters’ over the internet and the lack of an ‘editor’ in websites, especially ‘personal websites’ give the possibility of the corruption of news.
It does not take a genius to realize the fact that newspapers have editors which ensure the credibility of the news and other vital information the newspaper releases whereas websites rarely have any editor to look after the broad expanse of websites. Apparently, it has become a trend for newspapers to ride the waves of the internet revolution. That is, we now have online versions of the largest newspapers in the world instead of just having the print versions.
This is perhaps one way for newspaper companies to survive at a time when almost everything else with relevant information has become intangible. However, even these efforts of newspaper companies cannot salvage the printed and published newspaper from the threat of becoming extinct. In fact, what it does is the exact opposite. Instead of focusing all its resources in the improvement of the newspaper so that it can be able to go side-by-side the internet revolution, newspaper companies have also dedicated a significant portion of its resources in providing an online version of what they are publishing.
This eventually creates less room for the printed newspaper to becoming noticed by those who already use the internet more than they use newspapers. The attention of the reading public becomes more divided than before, all because of the adoption of the online versions of these newspapers. Indeed, the signs of the times tell us that the internet has gained the upper hand in terms of disseminating public information. It has the advantage in reaching distant places across physical barriers. It will soon be a matter of time when the internet has already taken over the use of newspapers in the lives of people.