The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

Print vs. digital: media and news

The decline of newspaper and physical media

For some individuals, it is deflating to see how news is delivered to consumers in this day and age. It is rare to see someone hesitate in curiosity when they pass a newsstand overflowing with periodical copies, and it is even more extraordinary to walk upon someone with a magazine or newspaper in hand. 

 “The newspaper industry has been in steady decline triggered by a loss in readership and ad revenue which have been migrating to other media, most notably digital,” independent contributor for the Forbes website, Brad Adgate explained. “In 2020, the circulation (print and digital) of weekday newspapers was 24.3 million and for Sunday newspapers it was 25.8 million, both a year-over-year decline of 6%. In contrast, in 1990, the weekday newspaper circulation was 63.2 million and for Sunday newspapers it was 62.6 million. Since then, circulation has been steadily dropping, reaching an all-time low in 2020.”

Physical media has taken a drastic decline in the past couple decades to the dread and worry of newspaper, magazine, periodical companies, and all tangible media publishing communities across the globe. 

 Other media forms, most notably digital, have been overpowering physical media in nearly every competitive category: efficiency, availability, price, and content relevance. 

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 Newspapers and magazines might as well forfeit to digital media in terms relating to efficiency and content relevance. It takes quite a bit of time to write, format, edit, print, and distribute a piece of physical media, whereas digital media only requires any digital device and a competent individual to share countless articles and pertinent content.

 In addition to paper media – magazines, newspapers, and such – physical media in the film industry has also taken a brutal hit in regards to digital streaming media taking over sales. 

 Streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, and Max (formerly HBO Max), have taken center stage in terms of use and relevance. 

“The forecast for physical media is certainly cloudy. According to a report from the research firm SNL Kagan, DVD wholesale revenue fell from around $8 billion to $4.5 billion between 2009 and 2010, a drop of 43.9 percent. That is obviously bad news. But Blu-ray discs are hanging on to relevance. As physical media’s latest tourniquet, they are stemming the losses caused by the hemorrhaging of DVD sales,” staff writer for the Reviewed website, Ethan Wolff-Mann declared. “This is a tough pill for the film industry to swallow. But the death of physical media – or at least its demotion to niche or cult status – will be longer and more drawn out than reports suggest.”

Some individuals question at this point in time what physical media has to offer when it is bested in virtually every manner by their opposing digital forms. However, despite what many individuals may believe, physical media forms offer a lot more than what meets the eye. 

 “Physical media is better than streaming because it preserves the quality and integrity of the filmmaker’s work, and it does not suffer from compression issues therefore offering better sound and visuals [as opposed to digital media],” contributor for the No Film School website, Alyssa Miller explained. “Physical media also supports the revenue stream of the film industry and helps build an emotional connection with the movies. Moreover, physical media is more reliable and durable than digital media, as it does not depend on internet access or licensing agreements.”

Regardless of the ongoing decline in palpable media forms, societal generations such as Millennials and Gen Z are on the front lines of bringing it back to the center of attention through their purchases of classic VHS tapes, vinyl records, CD albums, and ongoing curiosity in the nostalgia of picking up the occasional newspaper to read a story or two. 

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Campbell Burnett
Campbell Burnett, Content Editor

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