Is Print Media Dead in the 21st Century?

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With the emergence of digital media, the relevance of print media have been fiercely debated (Gomez, 2008; Leatherbarrow, 2012). The advocates of digital media supremacy bring to light the idea of the death of print media. In an attempt to persuade the public of the ultimate end of print newspapers, magazines, and books, the advocates present print media as fully outdated, expensive, and impractical (Anderson, 2014). What becomes evident from their pressure on the public is that they have initiated “a zero-sum game – print must die for digital to prevail” (Anderson, 2014, n.p.). This essay is aimed at discussing whether print media are really dead in the 21st century. Drawing on the recent research evidence and authoritative opinions, the essay attempts to generate an in-depth analysis of the vitally important issue. Gomez (2008) asserts that print media (especially print books) continue to preserve popularity among the reading public because they greatly appreciate how print media look and smell. Drawing the parallels between people’s devotion to print media and patriotic feelings, Gomez (2008) poses a reasonable question: “how can books ever be replaced, let alone disappear?” (p.13). However, the author also claims that print media are significantly threatened by the wide spread of digital media and that the sales of print media are declining. Discussing the position of print media in the digital era, Hooper (2012) expresses a view that “reports of the ‘death of print’ have been greatly exaggerated” (n.p.). To prove his opinion, Hooper (2012) mentions some examples of the increasing interest in print media. For instance, he claims that some sites and online services (e.g. Google, Moshi Monsters, and Net-A-Porter) have recently started to publish print magazines to attract new partners and customers and realise new strategic goals. Hooper (2012) also discusses the case of the famous Berlin magazine 032c. This magazine was created by Joerg Koch to advertise the website. However, the print magazine has acquired so much popularity among readers that the website was transformed into an archival repository. Moreover, as West (2009) specifies, many famous newspapers (e.g. The New York Times, Washington Post, Time, and The Guardian) are still published because “the quality of journalism produced by traditional print media is still well ahead of the combined might of all the bloggers that inhabit cyberspace” (n.p.). In the viewpoint of West (2009), digital media will not replace print media until the quality of digital media is increased. Likewise, Anderson (2014) mentions that even computational and scientific fields heavily rely on print media. For instance, in the medicine field, print journals are considered as crucial and reliable resources widely used by health care professionals. Nossek, Adoni, and Nimrod (2015) have conducted an interesting research on print media reading in nine European countries. The countries chosen for the research were technologically similar, but culturally different. The acquired evidence has clearly revealed that print media preserve their popularity in the 21st century. About half of the European respondents have acknowledged that they read either print books or print newspapers.

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