NEWSPAPERS VS. ONLINE NEWS - Print vs. Digital - A Conversation

May 31, 2003

The Bottom Line Newspaper vs. Online News

A Little History:

"Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech or of the press..." - Article One, Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution, 1789

Printed news goes back hundreds of years to the late 1400's when news pamphlets were passed around in Germany. The first true newspaper (in English) was the London Gazette of 1666. For one thing, America has always had newspapers. The first one appeared in Boston in 1690. These have come under some pressure from free online news sources. However, time (and circulation numbers) show that online news really has not impacted print media all that much.

Newspapers, since the dawn of television, have had to contend with news channels. These did not bring about the demise of print media. I think the same holds true for online news.

Some good newspapers:
USA Today
Wall Street Journal
LA Times
NY Times

Some good online news sources:

Advantages & Disadvantages:

One feature that online newspapers have over print is the amount of storage capacity available. You can store way more on a computer than can be printed on the pages of a newspaper. For one, this makes it easier to find older information or to re-read that article that came out last week. I would rather use a search function than dig through a pile of old newspapers.

Another advantage that online new sources have is color, and as much of it as they want. It can become tiresome looking at a page that is only black and white (more like a grayish color).

Print media tends to be more locally focused which is a major plus. But also, more and more small newspapers are going digital.

My Opinion & Preferences:

I enjoy reading a newspaper, and I do so nearly everyday. I usually only check the news online if there is a particular story I want to follow and I need quick updates or if I've been too busy to read the newspaper. Often times I read the online version of the newspapers that I read, instead of a major national news website.

Luckily, these two are not mutually exclusive. You can use both and many people do. Online news delivery has not lead to a significant (if any) decline is circulation of newspapers.

Final Say:

Both forms of news reach various audiences in multiple ways. Together they reach a greater audience therefor informing more people and making this a more democratic society. They also show readers various viewpoints on a particular subject, this is a major reason that I read more than one newspaper and also read news online.

I don't ever see one overtaking the other.

Overall, I'd say go with what works for you.


- Emery, The Press and America, Prentiss Hall, 1972
- Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820
- Weaver, News and the Culture of Lying, Free Press, 1994


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