Lately, it seems that there is an exponential relationship between the number of papers that close down and the number of blogs that exist to report on it. While part of this could be explained by the sudden release of trained but under-employed professionals into the workforce, it is also important to consider the reasons that blogs seem to be able to sustain themselves so much better than print news outlets.
The most obvious reason for this is that they take less money to run. They can effectively do most of the job of a major newspaper on a fraction of the budgets by taking advantage of a medium with less operating costs.
Not only is the entire cost of printing avoided, but it also does away with the need for delivery. There is no need for page designers, as putting out a new issue is as easy as uploading new stories. It also does away with the need for a physical office space. All of these are barriers of entry that exist for fledgling newspapers due to the physical medium.
This is not to say it’s worth it to completely abandoned newsprint as a method for disseminating journalism. In fact, it’s one media they haven’t tried yet. While it’s tempting to say that blogs can reach further due to the borderless nature of the Internet, the Internet itself has its limitations. With the proper user-end equipment, a computer, a person can explore an entire universe of media.
But a computer is still a luxury item, and any media that is dependent on owning one limits itself to those who do own one. A newspaper, however, can be purchased for fewer than 50 cents.
In this sense, electronic media transfers some of the cost onto the user. It is a far stretch from the days of pamphleteering, but it seems to be the direction journalism is going. Those small newspapers just trying to get their feet on the ground can take advantage of this, though. By using the web medium – which has less initial investment – a publication could gain momentum and eventually start publishing a print edition after enough ad revenue has been generated to make a print edition financially stable. The tree-ware version would also benefit the web presence by raising its profile among the sea of competing blogs. Newspapers are going multimedia, and it can only help blogs – and journalism – to do the same.