Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Critical Thinking: J-School Students and Industry Vets Tackle the Tough Questions

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Critical Thinking: J-School Students and Industry Vets Tackle the Tough Questions

Article excerpt

Q: A newspaper has been forced to discontinue its print edition and publish entirely on its website. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages the paper might face?

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Julia Brenner

22, senior at University of Wisconsin's School of Journalism in Madison

Brenner graduates in May and is deciding whether to write for magazines or become a television anchor. She has made video packages for MarketWatch and University of Wisconsin's Badger Report and was a production associate and writer for her college rag, Curb Magazine.

A: Recently, my grandmother asked me to watch her favorite television program with her. Being the wonderful grandchild that I am, I would have gladly come over, but with job applications looming, the need for Internet access was crucial. She took my declined invitation as an insult because the truth is: My grandmother doesn't get the Internet. What she does get, both mentally and at her doorstep, is the Chicago Tribune.

Digitalizing newspapers means losing older, faithful readership if those consumers can't access or understand the Internet. Digitalization diminishes buyer-seller relationships and any sense of demographics when anyone can view articles. Moreover, the Internet is distracting! Ads border websites' pages, while hyperlinks take readers from a story about Libyan rebels to one about the royal wedding. Hyperlinks may expand our database of knowledge, but it's only surface deep. Newspapers must inform the public, and an informed public shouldn't know more about Kate Middleton's "something borrowed" than conflict overseas.

The upside to digitalization includes increased readership, as well as the use of search engines to specify what readers want to know. This creates opportunities for media agenda setting, allowing newspapers to publish articles deemed newsworthy by the public. Digitalization creates technological opportunities such as applications and videos. The comment section is a plus as well. Instead of waiting days for letters to the editor, an editor can instantly see what issues spark the most interest. Last, newspapers can constantly update their websites. Breaking news is always available, a feature missing with print newspapers.

Advantages do seem to outweigh disadvantages. …

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