Sci-tech: Internet and Media Industry

By Manzoor Chandio
Written on Dec 23, 2006
EVER since Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1455, the publication of newspapers and magazines has undergone many changes.
From 1666 onwards, when the first daily newspaper, London Gazette, was published, newspapers and magazines continued to be published through linotype and letterpress machines and offset press.
Throughout centuries, the modes of printing newspapers evolved around Charles Duell’s saying that “everything that can be invented has been invented”.
Like everything bound to certain restrictions one day becomes history, so will the print media because of methods of producing mass newspapers are limited to machinery, manpower, rolls of paper, ink, folding machines, stationary and vans for circulation across cities.
Both the readers and owners are going to abandon newspapers in the near future because readers are desirous of getting news as it happens first and the latter think they are wasting a lot of money on paper and ink.
Undoubtedly, the print media first started losing its importance to television in the ’50s but since 1990, the real culprit is the World Wide Web created by London-born Tim Berners-Lee.
It is inevitable that the days ahead belong to the digital media.
In fact, media baron Rupert Murdoch is reported to have said: "Great journalism will always be needed but the product of their work may not always be on paper – it may ultimately just be electronically transmitted”.
The shrinking readership of newspapers at present is referred to the electronic media but in this age of the second industrial revolution both print and electronic media are going to be eclipsed by the networks of internet bloggers and techno-editors of the fibre media.
At present, it is believed that the audience of internet bloggers is higher than readers of world’s total newspapers and electronic media giants, CNN and BBC. Once there was a competition between print and electronic media.
Ted Turner of CNN once said: “We became the world’s most respected news source in 20 years. The New York Times had been there for 100 years".
But since the creation of World Wide Web, the readers and advertisers are migrating to the internet.
The companies publishing newspapers have started shifting focus from print to online media.
It has been predicted that the prime source of information by 2014 will be internet blogs and not print media because the technology-dependent generation will find it difficult to have any time for skimming through the newspapers.
One has to listen to the entire news on the radio whether or not it is interesting. On TV, one can watch the entire bulletin if the news is of one’s interest. But as a blog viewer, you can block information that you do not want and allow what you want to read.
One can receive information related to community networking, business, cooking, photography, child-rearing, education and politics straight in one’s email inbox.
On the internet, one can access news, commentary, texts, images, entertainment, sports, comic, food, home, fashion and travel and links to people.
Of course, most of the older generation will still be clinging to newspapers and TVs just the way most people prefer to listen to radio in an era of electronic media.
For the time being, print, electronic and digital media will exist together like air conditioners and the electronic fan.
However, newspapers are bound to be replaced by the internet and fibre media just the way computers replaced typewriters.
Once an essential part of the print media, now typewriters can only be seen in museums.The narrowing digital divide is increasing access to high-speed internet.
Most people are switching to cellphones and hand-held computers for reading news. It is easier to have information on one’s fingertips than broadsheets.
The internet is fast and interactive as compared to newspapers and TV channels.
In future, bloggers will have command over newsgathering. They will be selecting topics, writing and sending stuff to readers.
Because of high-quality feedback mechanisms, every one will consider the internet as their own. This is only thing which separates blogs from traditional media and bloggers from journalists.
There is a popular view that by 2014, there will be empty news-stands, ending hundreds of years of the newspaper era and people will get most of their information through computers.
The Economist in its cover story "Who killed the newspaper?" said: "Over the next few years [the newspaper industry] must decide whether to compromise on its notion of ‘fine journalism’ and take a more innovative, more businesslike approach – or risk becoming a beautiful old museum piece."
In future, online communities and technologies will be gathering and manipulating information and circulating it promptly around the world.
By that time, people at work will not be able to read newspapers and turn to TV screens. They will be working and simultaneously receiving news on their computers.
Digital divide getting smaller
A shrinking technology gap means a decreasing circulation of newspapers.
At present, though most of the world’s population is offline, global connectivity is increasing. According to a World Bank report, "People in the developing world are getting more access at an incredible rate – far faster than in the past."
The first ever World Summit on the Information Society held by the United Nations in 2003 worked out an ambitious plan of connecting 50 per cent of the world’s population with the internet by 2015.
If the plan is implemented throughout the world, this number is much more than the people who actually read the newspapers.
According to the Economist: “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 (elsewhere, sales are rising). But in the past few years the web has hastened the decline.”
It pointed out that “in Switzerland and Netherlands, newspapers have lost half their classified advertising to the internet. Newspapers have not yet started to shut down in large numbers, but it is only a matter of time. Over the next few decades half the rich world’s general papers may fold”.
Though the pace of narrowing the digital divide in developing countries is much slower, still the use of internet is increasing day by day. The number of internet users is growing fast in Pakistan.
According to an IBM report: “Within China and India, regions like Shanghai and Bangalore have almost the same level of internet and mobile phone connections as developed nations.”
Beyond digital media Beyond the digital media, there lies an era of zero circulation and zero revenue from customers. When US author Frank Ahrens wrote a series of articles depicting the future of newspapers in the Washington Post, many were fascinated and terrified.
In future, you would be carrying a paper-thin video screen exactly the size of a broadsheet. While at home or travelling in cars, buses and aeroplanes, you would have to link it with a fibre line and reading the newspaper of your choice on it.
After reading the news, you would fold up the screen and put it in your bag. The paper-thin screen will serve the purpose of paper, television and the internet simultaneously.
“Imagine a world in which newspapers no longer print any paper copies. For a paper the size of the Washington Post, which prints about 700,000 papers a day and one million on Sundays, that could be an annual savings of more than $110 million, with newsprint at $625 per metric ton and rising.
“Imagine a business model where such a video screen is cheap enough that The Post could give one away to new subscribers, weaning them off the paper product. Or, if you didn't want to subscribe, you buy a screen and get the daily paper when you buy it, one at a time,” a columnist said.
The Economist predicted 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.”
IT has been predicted in the EPIC 2014 movie released in November 2004 that under Googlezon (the merger of Google and media will be controlled by bloggers. The eight-minute-long movie revolves around a company named Googlezon after the fictional merger of Google and
In the movie, two giant companies Google and become Googlezon and challenge Microsoft. Googlezon defeats Microsoft and start controlling news submission and distribution system. The system finally proves to be the proverbial last nail in the coffin of newspapers.

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