Submitted: The Two Sides Team October 22, 2012
Newsweek announced Wednesday that it was ending its print edition and moving completely online.
October 19 2012
by Geoffrey Ingersoll – Business Insider
Newsweek announced Wednesday
that it was ending its print edition and moving completely online. One
of Britain’s flagship publications, The Guardian, is also “seriously considering,” according to reports, ending its print editions. And the Wall Street Journal seems to be losing money hand over fist.
It might seem like a matter of time, as if it were written in stone,
that publications would migrate to an online format. There are a few
concerns though, three in particular, that we should be aware of, precisely because our new form of media isn’t written in stone.
– Number 1 Security And The Free
Press: Concentrating our media along one means of transport has its advantages, sure, but as we learned in Egypt, kill switches
can quickly end all online communications. If our flagship
publications, ones meant to inform the populace and keep the political
arm in check, are suddenly vaporized by a government kill switch, we’ll
all be searching for a printing press.
– Number 2 Revisionist History: Online ad revenue just surpassed that of print publications.
What does this mean? That online writing is now the preferred means of
public ‘print’ information. The only problem with online writing is that
it can be “edited live.” Anyone who runs a website
knows what I mean something put into print on the web certainly isn’t
written in stone, it isn’t written at all, it’s live, and can be revised at the website’s or writer’s will.
Live editing opens the door to Orwell’s 1984 character Winston Smith
and the Ministry of Information. Smith was the dystopic journalist, in
charge of rewriting the past to fit the needs of the present.
People used to call The New York Times the publication of record, but that phrase hinges on an actual print edition of the newspaper. Print cannot be live edited.
In the age of online writing, gone are the days of diligent journalists
surfing through microfiche copies of newspapers in order to cobble
together lengthy stories everything can be easily changed after the
fact, editing what would otherwise be written history I shouldn’t need
to mention how this could be used under the regime of secretive and
(Some websites give you, the reader, the courtesy of admitting to
“updates” or “edits” or “corrections” on the front of their articles,
but this just reinforces the illusion of the web being a form of print
– Number 3 The Web Relies On Electricity: So does
your ebook and your smart phone and all that other new age stuff we use
to disseminate information. Recently we’ve been covering the
susceptibility of infrastructure to terrorist cyber attacks. Without
hard copies of news in circulation, a strike at our infrastructure would
be a crippling blow to our most relied upon forms of communication.
Furthermore, with nothing really written, is it ever really recorded?
Writing on rocks has survived for tens of thousands of years. Writing
on the web wouldn’t survive a nanosecond without electricity. We should
consider as we move our means of storing information to the digital
world whether it’s news, medical records, or scientific breakthroughs
that the maintenance of that information is not only dependent on the
flow of energy, but that the loss of which would set us back to the
years of our early dependency on the web.
Meanwhile, I have stacks of Time Magazine and the New York Times in my bedroom.
The Times, the U.S. publication of record, how long before the goes too? A conversation I once had with former Times editor Howell Raines indicates that it might be soon.
We should beware the transition.