Print Press Apocalypse: Not Today!

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Tue 14 November / Nov 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

Good news for newspapers around the world. A Harvard University study, conducted in collaboration with 48 media and news companies in the United States indicates that newspapers are not!

The results of the five-year study indicate that newspapers are still quite influential when it comes to shaping the public opinion and discussions in the public sphere in America. They can even influence social media activists and influencers.

Most importantly, it would seem that newspapers are far more and willing to address hot topics that concern people, not to mention professionally capable.

In the US, as well as the many other places around the world, newspapers make efforts to display their first pages out in public.

During the five years of the study, it seems that this particular method has had a significant effect on the public’s interests and opinion.

The study shows that, on average, some between 200 to two million Americans follow up on the topics highlighted in the newspapers’ public display.

Digitally, the study followed up on tweets on issues highlighted in bold in the print press, and noticed these particular tweets did much better than others, by at least 60 per cent, over the following week.

Smaller newspapers can also benefit of this phenomenon, to a lesser extent though, but the major papers are the real winners here. The New York Times, for instance, can actually triple public interest in any issue in a matter of 24 hours, when it comes to hot, bold topics.

Arab and Jordanian newspapers in particular should learn a thing or two from this study. Perhaps now they can work towards some future with such knowledge that strengthens their stand in the face of all the omens of the print press apocalypse.

While we may not have any similar studies in the Arab World or Jordan for that matter, but if one keeps track of trending social media topics in Jordan, one can see a clear correlation. It is fairly obvious that the news stirred by newspapers still does influence discussion in the virtual public spheres. Especially when papers address controversial, bold topics or publish news and reports on issues oblivious to the public.

Newspapers in Jordan are developing a relatively strong online presence, as well as on social media platforms. At this pace, we may be able to avoid a print press apocalypse altogether.

In the meantime, restoring value to the print press is beneficial for newspapers as well as the audience.

The quality of the culture has been significantly declining due to the effect of social media propaganda, summing up issues and stories in just a few words. Another of the terrible aspects of social media is the reduction of human tragedies to mere two-minute videos.

Meanwhile, there are no more vending booths in Amman or around Jordan, displaying newspapers and books, with the exception of some in Downtown Amman and a few other cities.

Perhaps our newspapers should considering reviving this custom by setting up booths for newspaper sales around the Capital to aggregate interest, and maybe even sell coffee to bring in more prospect readers!

However, before newspapers venture into such an effort, they should work on their content, to make it respectably consumable, on the side of a hot cup of coffee!

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.

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