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      A newspaper is a form of written communication that is published and distributed on a weekly or daily basis which contains current news, editorials, feature articles and advertising.  Newspapers are usually printed on low-cost paper and they appear on a frequent and regular basis [1]. The information provided in newspapers tends to focus on the geographical location that they are located and distributed.  Most of the modern printed traditional newspapers have editorial sections that allow for readers and writers to voice their opinions.  Many current newspapers include sections of interest, such as comics, advertisements and coupons [2].  As technological advancements, such as television, radio and the World Wide Web continue to enhance our society, the newspaper has remained a major source of information. Newspapers depend on the publication of advertisements in order to make an income [5]. 


      Prior to the development of the printing press and the production of hand written bulletins, news was exchanged orally around campfires, at markets, and in passing [3]. 

      In Rome, Julius Caesar requested that handwritten bulletins be posted every day during the 1st century BC. This was considered one of the earliest journalistic efforts in history. The handwritten bulletins were known as the Acta Diurna.  The Acta Diurna was handwritten daily news sheets that contained information on politics, trials, military campaigns, executions and scandals [3].

      The Chinese government published news bulletins that were called tipao which were circulated primarily amongst the government officials of the Han Dynasty between the years, 202 B.C. to A.D. 221 [3].  During the Tang Dynasty, the publication Kaiyan Za Bao, was news handwritten on silk and only read by government officials [2].  The first known newspaper was hand written and was distributed in China during the 8th century [12].


Modern Remake of Kaiyuan Za Bao 

      With the development of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg in 1447, mass production of printed materials including newspapers, took off with dynamic strides. The printing press allowed for information and knowledge to be spread throughout society. During the Renaissance, news was greatly related to trade and commerce for the growing merchant class [12]. 

      During the first part of the 17th century printed newspapers were beginning to appear on a more regular and frequent basis. Countries such as Germany, France, Belgium and England were the first main portals for the production of newspapers, with the information portrayed in these printed materials mainly relating to Europe. Content of the newspaper began to make a transition toward more local issues during the latter part of the 17th century [12]

      The 19th century brought large publishers, such as Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, to the forefront, and it was during this era that newspapers served as the primary forms of disseminating and receiving information.


      As our economy continues to fluctuate many newspaper companies are struggling to find ways to remain above water.  Some smaller companies have cut back by eliminating publications and increasing their content on the company website.  Many newspaper companies are viewing these minor adjustments as temporary and as forms of cutting costs for printing and distribution [9].  Publisher and editor, Pam Mox of the News and Sun, states, "I plan to keep all my good employees and keep the paper intact.  We're a profitable community newspaper with diversified revenue, and look forward to starting up the Friday edition again when the time is right"  [9].  This editor and publisher also mentions that daily e-mail updates will be sent out and the use of the Web will be for the publications.  The question lies with the increasing amount of digitalization our society is encountering, is there ever going to be the right time to bring this Friday edition back?  With the cutting back of printed circulated material such as newspapers, many claim that this will allow for more analytical pieces to be published on a weekly, or bi-weekly basis, so that "newspapers can continue to serve their communities and audiences in new ways while adapting to our times" [9].  Some smaller newspaper companies have limited their carriers and began providing their daily newspapers through the United States Postal Service (USPS) due to the turn in our economy.  With the increasing cost of fuel the carrier costs have also begun to  increase, and there many companies have noted high turnovers in Indiana, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.  One of the main advantages of having the newspaper delivered by USPS is that it provides the reader with printed information in a quicker manner than previously seen [10].  Philip Meyer postulates that in 2043, the American newspaper will die, "as the last exhausted reader tosses aside the last crumpled edition" [7]. 


      Advertisements are messages that are designed to promote sales of services or products.  Advertisements can be placed in the classified section of a newspaper or can be considered integrated marketing communications that are seen in newspapers and magazines; can be heard on television or on the radio, and most recently, through the Internet [11]. Just as how newspapers have slowly shifted their efforts to the Internet, so has the advertising industry. The newspaper industry online greatly is influenced by behavioral advertising and this currently remains one of the main forms of revenue that companies receive.  Behavioral advertising allows advertisers to target ads based on the reader's interests through non-personal identifiable information. The information is obtained through cookies or files that contain information based on visited Web sites and which "allows newspapers to help advertisers reach the audiences most interested in their products and services while increasing the newspaper's online revenue" [8].  Behavioral advertising has been brought to the attention of the Federal Trade Commission because of the potential privacy risks that may be associated with it [8].


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This Youtube vide describes how the company Google uses behavioral advertising within there company and the framework behind this type of adveritising.


      Journalism is comprised of reporters that gather information and editors that evaluate and publish information of interest. Technology has advanced and improved the field of journalism, shifting from primarily reporting information, to publishing information online from newspapers, radio, television, magazines and documentary films [4].  The people who write the information in newspapers are claimed to live in the "shadow of technology" [6]. Cathcart states, "when the Times introduced steam presses in 1814, or when railways made it possible to get a London paper to Newcastle overnight, or when messages by telegraph outstripped even the train, they did far more to create our national news media than the most brilliant reporter or editor" [6].  The news that journalism creates is far less than the news that was created by the advancements in our communication technology.  The need for more words to fill pages and to satisfy editors is more demanding now, as journalism scatters to find stories of interest, which is why journalism will continue to be hypocritical, and is posing more ethical dilemnas. Journalists must find words to attract readers, and printed materials, such as newspapers, need journalists to keep the production rolling [6].

Impact of the Internet

      Newspapers have invested a great deal of money in Web site development because there has been an incredible decline in the amount of reading citizens, except in the senior population. The senior population is not in decline mainly because they were part of the transformation of technology to the newspaper.  Finding funding for the development and maintenance of websites is a primary concern at this time, primarily because advertising companies have not figured out how to create a viable Internet income yet. Although some online newspapers charge a normal subscription rate, the online newspaper isn't reaching a large enough audience to create an income [5]. The vast amount of information that can be obtained from the Internet and the immediacy of the service, is considered far from equivalent to the immediacy and amount of information that can be obtained from the newspaper [12]. Younger populations, ranging from 15 to 24, tend to get their news online. Due to the Internet serving as such a dominant tool for circulating informion, circulation of the printed newspaper has steadily decreased for decades. As the shift from printed newspapers to Internet-based news increases, there will be an increased amount of jobs affected. Smaller companies have already begun to sell their papers to larger companies in order to cut costs. They have also begun to try and pull younger readers back in by increasing the amount of stories published relating to entertainment and subjects relevant to their particular age group, and decreasing the amount of stories relating to politics and international affairs being published [7]. According to Jones, "as newspapers expand their efforts into the digital world, publishers find themselves at the intersection of technology and policy" [8]. 

Implications for Media Ecology

      As advancements in technology continue to increase our information superhighway, consumers may rely on more interactive and direct forms of information.  Our society is becoming more dependent on digital advancements with computers and cellular phones with the focus being not on the printed material any longer. With many newspapers now having their own websites to distribute news, it is creating a decrease in the amount of printed and circulated materials. The development of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg allowed for the production of printed material to reach a large spectrum of society creating a mass production of information distribution.  

       As the trend of the printed newspaper industry continues to diminish, the thought that if certain areas within companies were restructured, then the diminishing of printed newspapers would not diminish. The newspaper needs to become more aggressive with changes so that they do not lose readers and so that the development of multiple media formats can draw in a larger audience [13].

      The development of the telegraph in 1844 enhanced the production of printed news, due to information being transmitted much faster than previously seen.  During the 1920's, broadcast radio entered the media scene and the printed newspaper had to re-evaluate its role as the primary information provider. Editors were able to revamp the format and content to cater to larger audiences [12].  


[1] "Newspaper" Retrieved 18 November 2008. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/newspaper

[2] "Newspaper" Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 18 November 2008. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspaper

[3] Stephens, Mitchell. "History of Newspapers" Retrieved 18 November 2008. http://www.nyu.edu/classes/stephens/Collier's%20page.htm

[4] "Journalism" (2008) The History Channel Website. 24 November 2008. http://www.history.com/encyclopedia.do?articleId=213400. 

[5] "Newspaper" (2008) The History Channel Website. 24 November 2008. http://www.history.com/encyclopedia.do?articleId=217613.

[6] Cathcart, Brian. "Journalist: they can't live without us." New Statesman 137.4915 (29 Sep. 2008): 22:22. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Chadwick Library, Mount Pleasant, IA. 22 November 2008 http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=34478988&site=ehost-live.  

[7] "Who killed the newspaper" (2006). Retrieved 18 November 2008. http://www.economist.com/opinion/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=7830218  

[8] Jones, Mary Lynn F. "Wired in Washington" (2008). Retrieved 18 November 2008. http://www.naa.org/Resources/Publications/PRESSTIME/PRESSTIME-2008-November/01-Cover-Wired-in-Washington/01-Cover-Wired-in-Washington.aspx

[9] "Circulation: Economy Prompting Elimination of Publication Days." (2008). Retrieved 15 December 2008.  http://www.naa.org/Resources/Articles/Circulation-Economy-Prompting-Elimination-of-Publication-Days/Circulation-Economy-Prompting-Elimination-of-Publication-Days.aspx  

[10] "Considering the USPS Route." (2008).  Retrieved 15 December 2008. http://www.naa.org/Resources/Articles/Circulation-Considering-the-USPS-Route/Circulation-Considering-the-USPS-Route.aspx 

[11] "Advertising" (2008). The History Channel Website. 24 November 2008.  http://www.history.com/encyclopedia.do?articleId=200292

[12] "Newspapers: A Brief History" (2004). Retrieved 15 December 2008. http://www.wan-press.org/article2821.html 

[13] Bennett, Randy. "Introduction" (2008). Retrieved 15 December 2008.


[14]"Nicole Wong at the FTC Town Hall on Behavioral Advertising" (2007). Retrieved 15 December 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jba4UMnwous



Comments (1)

Jeff Martinek said

at 6:30 pm on Dec 8, 2008

Story about financial problems for Chicago Tribune and New York Times (with links) here:


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