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Delivery of news products

June 16, 2009

Assignment for Science, Technology & Society course

Denise Scammon
Module 2, Reading Response #2
June 7, 2009

I found it particularly interesting to read about what causes technology to change because my career for the last ten years has been based in the newspaper industry which is now going through an upheaval. The newspaper industry was already beginning to feel the pinch of the Internet as it began losing subscribers as news became readily available online for free. The upheaval has been exasperated by the poor economy. Advertisers are cutting back on their advertising. Some say the newspaper industry is doomed because of the loss of subscribers and advertisers. But, part of that is the economy, not the Internet. What the newspaper industry needs is a new business model, a new source of revenue.

As I read through Rudi Volti, I hoped to find some clues as to some type of innovation or technology that could be applied to the newspaper industry to stop the ship from sinking. I didn’t find any one solution to the problem the newspaper industry is facing, but I now believe that the solution may already exist. I found it interesting that many inventions and technologies sat around, unused, because there was no need for them. They had been invented or created before their time. Without a doubt, there will always be a need for journalism, but its delivery needs to meet the needs of readers.

Explanation, written June 14:

My statement regarding my belief that the solution may already be in existence to the problem facing the newspaper industry refers to all the inventions that originally were created to serve one purpose, but eventually become more useful for a different purpose. So, perhaps, and this might just be wishful thinking on my part, there is an invention lying around unused that could make newspapers (or, more accurately, news products) a profitable product. The Kindle hasn’t exactly been lying around, but some circles had predicted it as the future delivery model of the news.
Presently, advertising and subscriptions have been the source of revenue. That business model is broken. The big media companies that have “folded” over the past year and a half were big conglomerates with heavy debt. The recession made their situations more desperate as both advertisers and subscribers economized. Small, family-owned businesses without debt have been hit by the recession, but are not in as desperate a situation as the big conglomerates. Still, economic forecasters predict that advertisers will be watching their marketing dollars for another year or two. Subscribers have found free sources for their news.
News is delivered to cell phones and other mobile devices. However, not as many people have those devices as once subscribed to newspapers. If the technology that’s going to save the news industry isn’t “lying around,” perhaps it’s a combination of technologies that need to merge to create a new product to fill this need. I think there’s an answer, but I don’t know what it is.

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