Declining economy threatens print media industry

Gracie Hays
a &e Editor

Although newspapers have been the cornerstones of democracy, countless publications’ sustainability are being threatened by the declining economy. Throughout the downfall of print media, the accessibility has been overlooked and underestimated with the notion that only the fittest survive and progress will provide a more efficient way to obtain news.

Only 4 percent of low-income children own computers, according to National Public Radio. Moving media online shortchanges the accessibility that is accomplished by print media. Much of America’s youth who is already underserved by the public educational system is at a further disadvantage in comparison to their high-income peers, 83 percent of whom have access to computers. The switch from print media to Web-based media will only serve to un-inform lower-income citizens, who represent the majority of the U.S. population. If the lower class is not educated or informed they are not fully equipped to escape the binds of poverty.

Even American citizens who are privileged enough to gain access to Web media will be underserved and at a disadvantage in the absence of the viability found in respected print media. Because bloggers do not have a track record, identity or reputation for objectivity, media consumers who turn to them for information could be misled or misinformed.

Local newspapers serve as the voice for the people by monitoring government and keeping it honest. Recently, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Mayor Gavin Newsom is lobbying to rename Third Street after his predecessor Willie Brown. The Chronicle uncovered potential costs reaching nearly $200,000 to replace signs. After learning the facts, over half of Chronicle readers were against the renaming of Third Street in a poll created by the paper. Without print media’s due diligence, checks and balances are lost and citizens have no access to decisions that impact their lives.

Print media is the foundation of media literacy and a struggling economy should not chip away at it. If 2009 is going to represent the era of bailouts and the faulty auto industry is an example of a worthy recipient, then America’s newspapers should be treated with the same amount of urgency, if not more.