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March 15th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Will the internet eventually kill newspapers?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A rapidly unfolding story like the earthquake in Japan and the devastating tsunami and nuclear concerns that followed shows the strengths of the news media but at the same time exposes its limits.

The Japan earthquake hit about 12:45 a.m. ET last Friday morning. Internet news sites, blogs and cable television broke the story right away and stayed with it. Newspapers on the other hand scrambled to get such a late breaking story to print... and could only report so much before the presses got rolling. "Hot off the presses" wasn't so hot when it hit doorsteps across the country, so readers relied on other outlets to find out the latest.

A new report from the Pew Center's Project of Excellence in Journalism says 41 percent of Americans say they get most of their national and international news from the Internet. That's up 17 percent - more than double - from a year earlier. And that number's likely to grow. The internet not only provides up-to-the-minute news to anyone who's interested, but in the case of Japan, also puts them one-click away from humanitarian aid websites, groups that are helping loved ones find each other, and opinion blogs.

And laptops, smartphones and electronic tablets like the iPad are making the Internet easily accessible almost everywhere.

Here's my question to you: Will the internet eventually kill newspapers?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: Internet • Japan earthquake • Journalism • News Media
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Paul, Parry Sound, Ontario

    Of course not. You can't wrap fish in a computer.

    March 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  2. Pete in Georgia

    Will it ??
    It already has.
    Today's newspapers are less than a shadow of their former days.
    It's over.

    March 15, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  3. Rodger Moore

    You mean to tell me they still have print newspapers?

    Columbus, OH

    March 15, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  4. Bradley, Portland, OR

    Traditional printed newspapers are dead, no matter what.

    Newspapers on the web can survive if they do more than print edited wire service copy. They need to provide original content and do original reporting that the wire services aren't already doing.

    March 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  5. Kevin in CA

    I certainly hope not. Newspapers are an indispensable part of democracy and a historical record that can't be altered or "shoppied".

    March 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  6. John from Alabama

    Jack: I hope not, but only the truly great newspapers will survive the internet. Great papers, such as, The New York Times, Washington Post, Atlanta Constitution Journal, and Chicago Sun Times will be there for us to read and enjoy. I was a paperboy when I was 11 years old, another job gone down the drain. We need jobs!!!!

    March 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  7. Jane (Minnesota)

    I hope not – I like to sit down and look at an actual newspaper with my breakfast – NOT a computer screen. I Work in front of a computer screen all day long.

    March 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  8. Jenna

    Will the internet eventually kill newspapers?

    We can't line bird cages with the internet.

    Jenna
    Roseville CA

    March 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Of course.

    The problem was created though, not by the internet, but by advertising. if you pick up any metropolitan paper, and look through it, it will be 80 % advertising. The advertising has killed newspapers, just as the 52% rate of advertising to all air time, on TV is killing TV.

    The advertising will eventually kill the internet as well.......and indeed, I am already unwilling to watch news videos, because every single one has an ad you are forced to sit through (notice I did NOT say watch), to watch the news video.

    The advertising world, is killing all communications, because we are fed up with the advertising. You can only bear so much of it.

    March 15, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  10. Louis Payk

    I subscribe to an online edition of the local paper. It is the same format as the print edition. reads the same.
    There are pros and cons. Pros; I don have to chase it all over the hood, Noting to get rid of and it is archived and can be pulled up at will. Cons; harder to carry, bulkier than a soft paper, does not have paper and ink smell that I like.
    So I rekon that some day print copys will go the way of 8 tracks and 78's. They will be around but hard to find.
    Progress, I wonder. As a kid I made my spending money peddeling papers. Times change. Louis Patyk in La Salle

    March 15, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  11. Kim Smith

    Newspapers won't die completely, they'll just become prohibitvely expenseive to buy, and therefor will be the new status symbol for the few people left in this country who have any money left.

    March 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  12. Eric

    The internet will likely kill news on paper, but will never kill quality journalism. Only unacknowledged bias and journalistic sloppiness will do that.

    March 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  13. bob in florida

    Hate to break it to you, the internet will eventually kill TV also.

    March 15, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  14. Loren, Chicago

    If news is available around the clock, why would I wait for a newspaper or a news broadcast? On the other hand. a newspaper can be a handy amalgamation of daily information that the internet can't match. To answer the question, maybe, maybe not.

    March 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  15. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Yes, and my wife will go into withdrawals as she is not a computer user. It's too bad but that's the way it is these days, progress. At least that's what it's called. Maybe the internet can replace Congress, now that would be real progress.

    March 15, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  16. Jim

    Jack,

    Printed newspapers may, indeed, go the way of the slide rule. But news, and the major news companies, will survive by adapting to modern technology. I just worry about the increasing pollution of straight news by opinion. It seems that simply reporting the news is not enough these days. Too many news providers also labor to make sure that our interpretation of the news is properly molded.

    Jim
    Reno, Nevada

    March 15, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  17. MAGGIEB

    Yes, because like online liberal news they lie and don't give the entire truth but there opinions. Opinions aren't News.

    Houston Texas

    March 15, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  18. Bob Kobs

    Newspapers are dying the same way television is dying because of greedy and lack of professionalism. They forgot their job and became money-makers, not news reporters.

    The internet is doing the job better; hence its ascendancy.

    March 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  19. Ron in Ohio

    It shouldn't but it will. However, the Internet is more unbiased if you know where to look. The rest of the media continues to be bought up by the few wealthy who control content more and more, the Murdochs of the world. So the free press is freer on the Internet.

    March 15, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  20. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    You have to buy a newspaper and after you're done reading the paper you have to dispose of the newspaper. Meanwhile you go on the Internet read the news for free and then turn off the computer. Children today go to the Internet for their information and schoolwork. As the older generation dies off the newspaper will die.

    March 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  21. Pisher from Harrisburg

    Sure it will and why not? Think how many trees will be saved and how much news can be published and be seen by more people. Sure there will have to be subscriptions to access news services, but it will still be cheaper and less garbage than now. It's not a bad thing, Jack. Get used to it and celebrate that with the internet, you can have your cake and eat it too with fewer calories, less cost and less damage to the environment. It's a win win for everyone.

    March 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  22. Rich McKinney, Texas

    It already has Jack. They just don't know they are dead yet.

    March 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  23. RickFromDetroit

    Yes & No. The newspaper as we have known it for years is a piece of paper that we fold, tear, eventually read, throw into a pile when we are done, and then send it back for recycling.

    But, there is one characteristic then we are always interested in and this is the articles that we read and the internet could be the come back that many have waited for since the network evening news on TV began dominating the media.

    With the new ebooks & digital tablets swamping the markets we can now enjoy all of our publications in one convenient and compact place and we carry it with us wherever we go and we can integrate the newspaper, internet, radio, and TV.

    Thirty years ago it would have taken a three bedroom home to accommodate the electronic luxuries that we now can carry in our hand.

    March 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  24. Olga

    Probably.

    The New Generation of Geeks outnumber the people who prefer a slower pace of life.

    Olga
    Austin, Texas

    March 15, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  25. Lynsey Pug

    What's a newspaper? Oh, that thing I used to buy for the Crosswords? I do my Crosswords online now. I used to be an avid watcher of CNN & other cable news stations, but I had to choose between paying for Internet service or Cable TV. I went with the Internet. All my news is online, and I can access more sources for the news I want to read at my leisure, and easily compare coverage. I can even go right Kyodo for news on the Japan situation or Al Jazeera for the Mideast. As far as I'm concerned, the Internet trumps both newspapers and TV News! You have a blog, right, Jack?

    March 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  26. Andrew from Los Angeles

    It should. Newspapers are inefficient and wasteful.

    March 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  27. Arp

    It already has, Jack. Our local paper has mysteriously shrunk from broadsheet size by one fourth, the news columns have shriveled up to nearly nothing while full-page house ads and garish trash ads fill the few pages we do get. They've laid off talented writers, and whoever does the layout is a circus clown since nothing in the paper - except the trash ads - are ever in the same place twice. When my subscription expires, I won't renew.

    From Brandon, MS

    March 15, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  28. Dennis north Carolina

    No , the papers will adapt to the Internet.

    March 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  29. bryan from Colorado

    Yes, I can read my favorite newspaper on the web and not throw it in the trash when finished reading it. No paper, no printing presses, no paper boy, less energy being used, more convenient and every body wins. Unfortunatley some labor union is probably ready to throw a wrench in this progress.

    March 15, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  30. Richard Callaway

    Newspapers should be able to survive but they will definitely have to adapt to the new medium, probably having to make some difficult decisions. Paper editions will move to e-book type formats (small local papers possibly making a last stand) as well as the internet. They will probably have to charge a small subscription fee if advertising doesn´t provide sufficient revenues. However, just think how production costs will be reduced by the technology and the potential audience will expand exponentially for many papers. I don't think the future is particularly bleak if they have the vision.

    March 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  31. Adam Simi Valley, CA

    Inevitably. Papers are obsolete before they leave the distribution center. The only things they can offer, such as special reports or editorials can be done cheaper and faster over teh internet as well.

    March 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  32. Cliff Glass - Rego Park, New York

    Jack,

    Nowadays, more people know the names of the Real Housewives of New Jersey than members of Congress, Cabinet Secretaries, or Supreme Court justices. It's not that we're accessing the Internet to view newspapers, it's that Americans are no longer reading......... or thinking.

    March 15, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  33. Cy Gardner

    Will computers ever be cheap enough that we can use them to whack an incontinent puppy over the nose with it and then slide it under the same puppy? That'll be the day. cy gardner, arlington, va

    March 15, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  34. Paul P.

    It will kill the paper it is printed on eventually. But thanks to the rash of unreliable internet information sources, well-established newspapers will have a great chance to survive in online form. Of course, like real journalists, they may still be a step behind some others, as they will strive to verify information before posting, but most will still be there. Unfortunately, like anything else that migrates online, jobs will be lost in the process.

    March 15, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  35. Carla

    Of course, the newspaper is doomed. In addition to protecting our forests and the expense of recycled paper, the internet is searchable, downloadable, quickly accessible, and the font can be increased. I say this as a 64-year old poet, who misses the days when I could hold and handle the journals that published me. While I can still do that with my books, now everyone is getting all Kindle-ized, and much of my newer work is pixel-ated in various e-journals. It’s a new world.

    March 15, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  36. Terry- Greensburg, IN "Hoosier Hillbilly"

    It has for 'me' already & media news also. If you really want to hear the truth you gota surf the internet to get it!

    Sorry Jack, but that's the truth. CNN isn't as bad as some – but your getting there.

    I almost puke when I hear news casters that have no idea of what their talking about sounding like authorities on the subject.

    March 15, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  37. John ................ Marlton NJ

    Yes, but not soon enough ... With the papers should go many of the journalists who have mislead us to beleive they're relavent.

    March 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  38. Tom Bulger, Canandaigua

    Sad to say it will.

    Burke, Jefferson and others have pointed out that the Fourth Estate is the foundation of democracy. Our government will have to fund journalism especially investigative journalism through a type of royalties system seen in England.

    Big Business shills pretending to be news organizations will have to be refused licenses by the FCC just as Canada has done with FOX.

    How much greater harm to public welfare to license a propaganda weapon than licensing medical quacks? If we don't license doctors who poison their patients, we should not license "News" organizations that poison their publics.

    March 15, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  39. andyz Lynn, MA

    Not for the immediate future. There are too many idiots posting on the internet. We have no idea if the information is correct or the product of a sick mind. Until there is some type of agency or organization that can validate internet postings, the net is only a toy.

    March 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  40. Overby from Melbourne

    It's already killed the newspapers, they just don't know it yet. Why on earth would anyone pay for a paper that's a day late and got old news in it? You can get the news right now in a zillion places on the web at no cost. I don't care a whole lot for all the new technology, but I do like getting the news while it's still news......

    March 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  41. Sandstone.

    "Paperwise? yes I suppose it will. But not the News media part of that business. Will they go CDN like CD-Books? Maybe! How?? The Magazines are going that way, so maybe Newspapers will become part of that stream, like Time! I was always told 75% of a Newspaper were adverts anyways!"

    March 15, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  42. Sandstone.

    "I read and interact with my Daily Express in England nearly every day, just I do with CNN. I have my own User-Name, and drop my comments regular. How else can I interact with relatives!"

    March 15, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  43. Lorne - San Luis Obispo, California

    Yes, apart from mediums, who report events BEFORE they happen, the internet will eventually kill off and/or absorb all competitive news media that lack the facility for both immediacy and change-on-a-dime flexibility. Happily, you and Wolf are hybrids, Jack, encouraging audience internet-delivered interaction as you do. You guys will be OK.

    March 15, 2011 at 5:14 pm |