RIPRINT The death of the printed word and how that translates to our practices

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If I’m not hearing about how print is dying from think-pieces on my LinkedIn timeline, I’m definitely hearing about it from concerned family members when they ask me what I’m doing with my life. 

Nobody is surprised by the looming displacement of print media. It’s 2018. More than ever, people are engaging with online content for their news coverage and media more generally. Online articles, photos and videos in particular seem to gain more traction and engagement from audiences than print media ever could. 

So, what happens to print journalism? What happens to the dozens of community newspapers shutting down due to slumping ad sales and drops in circulation? What happens when local news is at stake?

November saw the closure of nearly three dozen community newspapers, following the Postmedia Network Inc. and Torstar Corp trade. Nearly 300 full and part-time employees felt the effects of this trade, but each company will be saving between $5 million to $7 million annually as a result.

On June 14, Rogers Communications, who publishes titles such as Chatelaine, Maclean’s and Hello! Canada, said that it had laid off about 75 full-time employees from its digital content and publishing team. Rogers cited the pressures of the print industry and loss of advertising revenues as a cause for these cuts. 

These closures and cuts are affecting media of all sizes, and are decided based on a myriad of reasons. Predominantly, changing demographics of print readers and an increasingly competitive advertising market is making it harder for newspapers to stay afloat. 

How does this translate to the ways in which we value print media? 

The Silhouette is in a lucky situation compared to the general media landscape. Being known as one of the few sources for McMaster news and not needing to run at a budget surplus keeps our paper safe for now. 

That said, however, our transition into more social media and online-based content is at the top of everyone’s year plan. The past few years at the Sil have been filled with questions, strategies and scenarios to play out when thinking about the best ways in which we can reach our audience while staying afloat as a publication. 

It’s impossible to say what exactly will happen when looking at the future of print journalism. The fact is that the newspaper industry is continuing to see sharp declines in good economic times, meaning that a lot of newspapers won’t survive without support. 

Now’s the time to support your local print publication. Look into the various ways you can support local news and consider what a world without print may look like. 

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Author: Emily O'Rourke

Emily is a recent Communication Studies grad. Now you can find her in the big seat as Editor-in-Chief. She mostly talks about PR, meme culture, coffee and dogs. Emily was also voted biggest klutz in her high school's graduating class, FYI.