Newspapers have always played an integral role in the reporting of news in years gone by. As the primary source of news, newspapers were a vital aspect of everyday life, and were usually the first outlet to deliver news stories to civilians.
As radio and television came to the fore, newspapers took a step back. Still though, most people comtinued to buy a daily or weekly paper. There are numerous Irish newspapers in operation today on both a local and national scale. They have huge offices, employ hundreds of people from journalists to photographers, graphic designers to reporters, and are a powerful force in Irish media.
Today, however, many newspapers are struggling due to a change in the way we source our news. Whereas once before newspapers delivered breaking news stories, these events are now reported on television and radio long before they ever reach the front page of a national publication.
A new phenomenon being witnessed is that of real time news via the Internet. Recent news stories such as the Iranian elections, Michael Jackson’s death and the earthquake in Haiti are perfect examples of how media is changing. You don’t just have professional journalists, photographers and TV crews in the area, but also local people, spreading their knowledge through the medium of websites such as Twitter.
Twitter has become infamous in the past couple of years, and is a widely exploited resource for individuals and companies alike. In the last Irish general election, results were first posted on RTE’s twitter page, providing up-to-the-minute content for the world to see. Anyone can post a message on Twitter, and because of this, it is difficult to sort out the reliable from the timewasters.
So therein lies the question. Each one of us has at our hands access to more information than our grandparents could have thought possible. The problem we face is trying to find the good, and reject the bad. Mark Little, an Irish journalist, has taken a year out from his position as host of RTE’s Prime Time to focus on a digital media and global journalism project that aims to deliver to us reliable news as it happens. An avid Twitterer, Little is convinced that the Internet has changed media forever.
One has to contemplate what lies ahead for traditional media outlets. In 2008 The Irish Times made its articles available for free online, along with a real-time news feed. Is this the future for print media? With online news sources gaining more popularity, the stories in newspapers may be viewed as history due to the time constraints they are under to get the newspaper printed.
The younger Irish generation will not be willing to pay for news if they can obtain it for free online. I read irishtimes.com daily, and therefore have no need to read any newspaper my parents may buy. I regularly hear breaking news stories long before my parents, who rely on television, radio and newspapers.
There is no doubt that the way we source news is changing. The burning question is whether or not this will lead to the demise of the traditional print media. Personally, I believe there will always be a need for reliable sources of news. There’s nothing like having a physical copy of a newspaper to flick through, and reading not only the news stories, but comments and analysis on a wide range of topics including society, education, and life. Who knows what lies ahead; we’ll just have to wait and see.