The Importance of Newspapers in the United States

Alex Loding, News Editor

How can something important enough to be protected in the constitution possibly be dying?

According to the constitution, “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

It’s the press portion that people should worry about; as the journalism profession evolves and changes, some people claim the print newspaper will no longer exist. And signs of its end are surfacing, as more and more print companies cut staff, file for bankruptcy, end their print industry to move toward online publication only or close down for good.

While change can be good, losing an entire industry that plays a vital role in our society will harm the U.S., and possibly the world, more than people think.

“Newspapers are the first rough draft of history,” said Thomas Kuhn, history and government teacher.

Newspapers have been an essential form of media for hundreds of years all over the world. It connects people with their community, their city, their state, their country and the world. It is one of the first initial forms of communications. Every morning, bright and early, someone throws a newspaper out on the lawns of millions of people, but that too is becoming less common. As generations keep getting older, the newspaper industry keeps getting smaller.

“Newspapers report on the big news around the world, but local newspapers can bring a community together,” said Kate Siltman, junior journalism student.

With the loss of an industry, five major aspects of news will be lost, according to Tony Rogers, journalism expert and writer for About News.

These losses would include large news staffs, staffs that cover local news and write the local newspaper; beat reporters, or reporters that cover special areas of the news; in-depth coverage of news and events; investigative reporting– with large news staffs, local newspapers can cover news stories that take a long time and work; journalists who aren’t millionaires who can connect and feel empathy with the people who they cover.

All of these aspects are lost with the death of newspapers, yet are essential to everyday life and to the reporting of the news.

“Newspapers give us facts and information and are more persuasive and opinionated than other types of media,” said Kuhn.

The persuasion and opinions are what connect the readers to the newspaper. Online, a reader can’t feel the emotions or connections like they can with the newspapers.

Besides all of the negative implications, there is an importance to why newspapers have to stick around and be a part of our lives.

The writers at Stanton Communications have listed the important reasons why newspapers are valuable: “Newspapers deliver the world each day with an immediate and powerful impact.” Print newspapers guide the reader toward the important and necessary news while online only allows readers to pick what is important and what isn’t. The newspaper is a daily snapshot of history and is accessible to everyone. Newspapers are documents of history, and they capture all of the big events worldwide and local. Also, they are provided to everyone for anyone to read.

What would happen to the people who are dependent on newspapers if newspapers became a lost piece of history?

“We hope the print version, however, is never lost. It informs us in a manner no amount of pixels ever can,” stated the writers at Stanton.

Siltman added, “Reading [news] off of a screen is not as easily remembered.”

And news needs to be remembered in the form of newspapers, which become historical documents.

While the print industry is losing steam, the online publication business and social media are on the rise. Most news companies are making the switch to online publication. With some major news companies having financial issues, they have begun focusing more toward the online side of their company. Companies like Chicago Tribune and New York Times are on their way to more online publishing. Also, social media news has become more and more popular, leading to more posts online.

“People have gotten away from using the newspapers because of our on-the-go and busy society. We tend to use our cellphones to get the news because we are so busy,” Kuhn said.

With the online business increasing, the print industry is going to have to fight its way back to the top, especially for the upcoming generations who view social media as a news source.

“We can go on Facebook and find the same articles we would find in a newspaper for free,” said Siltman.

While the internet allows for quicker delivery of the news and easier immediate access, the depth of information is often lost with online publications.

“People typically skip over the headlines while they are on their phones, but with newspapers, they read the headlines and read the content that follows,” said Kuhn.

But the most important reason for why newspapers need to be kept around is because they are essential in a democracy, and that is why newspapers are necessary for our daily lives.

“If the government controls the news and press, then the government controls you,” said Kuhn.

Newspapers have a role in our democracy by “checking” or being the “watchdog” for all of the other branches of government, similar to the ways all of the branches check each other. The press is known as the “fourth estate” of the government. Newspapers have a role of reporting on authority, whether it’s negative or positive. The freedom of speech and press allow the newspapers to express their opinion of the government and all of its branches. By voicing their opinion, newspapers control or check our nation’s government and keep it in line.

“Newspapers are a gateway for citizens to criticize our government. The news can change the political agenda,” said Siltman.

As a result, journalists should be seen as reliable and credible.  Because anyone can publish online, the information available from countless sources does not always hold up to a credibility check.

On the other hand, newspapers contain first-hand reporting from professional writers/journalists. Consumers need credibility when receiving the news, so why not get it from the real professionals?

“I enjoy that newspapers are less bias than news you find on social media,” added Siltman.

The industry of online publication and social media is taking off, but print is still necessary and relevant to our society and the world.

The writers of Stanton said, “Keep throwing it on our lawn. We are glad to have it!”