Newspapers are more important than ever



Sophia Pizzi

“If you were in the shoes of an undergraduate entering this new age of digital media, what advice would you give yourself?” I asked Brian McGrory, Editor-in-Chief of the Boston Globe.

“Don’t do it,” he joked.

As a senior studying journalism, these aren’t exactly promising words to hear. Many say the print industry is dying, and newspapers are no longer relevant. Journalists everywhere are grappling with the questions of “How do I make a profit off of storytelling?” and “How can I convince readers my work has value?”

Yet, though the idea that “print is dying” takes the forefront of the public story, the hunger for journalism is greater than ever. While the Boston Globe prints around 200,000 papers per day, it gets more than 1.5 million visitors to its website daily. Similarly, the New York Times prints 1.3 million papers per day, but receives at least double that number in unique visits online. As these numbers show, holding an audience isn’t the problem. No, the problem is that, due to so many news sources available at our fingertips, the average consumer is unwilling to pay for content. 

Technology got ahead of newspapers, and newspapers weren’t prepared. Desperate to keep up with the changing mediums, large local papers made their content available online with no price tag attached. This created the persisting expectation that news should be free online. However, after interning with a few news organizations  I have found this assumption wrong for many reasons. Newspapers deserve your money, and your money is well worth the purchase of a subscription. 

There are many benefits to buying a newspaper subscription. First and foremost,  because they’re meant for a larger audience, reading the newspaper every day gives you a holistic view of the world you live in. While reading articles from Facebook isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you are limiting yourself by choosing to read only what interests you. Browsing the top stories and front pages of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, however,  will give you exposure to a variety of current events, making you a more informed and engaged citizen.

Another benefit to online subscriptions is their extensive digital offerings. Subscribing to the New York Times, I receive breaking news notifications, have unlimited access to all of its content on both their website and app and have several newsletters emailed to me regularly. My favorite is the “Cooking” newsletter, which includes new recipes and cooking videos I can try each week. 

Although the personal benefits of a newspaper subscription are certainly a plus, there is more to it than that. Over the summer, late-night talk show host John Oliver, discussed the issue of the supposed dying newspaper industry, highlighting the crucial role local papers play in our country. 

“The media is a food chain which would fall apart without local newspapers,” he says, referring to the fact that most TV news stations cite local papers as their primary sources of information. 

Additionally, Oliver speaks to the “frightening” state of the media and how cutbacks affect how much local governments are reported on. With buyouts and layoffs rapidly circulating in newsrooms across the country, a lot of news coverage is walking out the door with the journalists who reported it. Investigative journalism, for example, is one of the first sections of a paper to be cut. But think about the movie “Spotlight.” 

Without this team of investigative journalists, an alarming amount of corruption and injustice would still exist in the Archdiocese of Boston and numerous cities across the world. Like the film shows, journalism not only plays a “watchdog” role in the community, but it also serves a public good and improves the cities and states that we call our homes. 

At the end of the day, journalists have society in their best interest. Typically, writers don’t go into journalism to make money. They go into the field because they care about two things. First, they love storytelling. And second, they care about the community and informing the public. Whether they are serious or entertaining in doing so, they are not writing for themselves. They are writing for us. The least we can do is recognize them for that.