New media don’t kill the old media

Since the Internet broke into humanity with all its transformative force back in 1995, there have never been premonitions about the imminent disappearance of the traditional media, namely printed newspapers.

The omens in this regard have been based on two parallel measurements: the one that records the number of people connected to digital media and the one that marks the fall of circulation and ad revenue of the newspapers, or the decline of radio and television audiences.

Similar forecasts were aired, several decades ago, regarding the written press when the radio and TV made their entry into the media scene, projecting all their capacity to massify audiences and to win the race of informative immediacy.

A new ecosystem was then born, in which that older audiovisual media that relied on analog signals have been gradually surpassed by the Internet’s format over time, because of its innovative technologies. This, however, happened without replacing the older media as a matrix, it simply has transformed them.

What has changed have been the skills of both worlds to adapt to the new ways that now exist to filter the news appropriately, taking advantage of digital hyperconnectivity.

The traditional printed press has been, of course, one of the most impacted by this technological revolution.

Although the decline of ad revenue and general sales have forced many newspapers to disappear or reduce their circulation levels, the physical matrix still exists as a reference and guarantee of truthful content, and as a space in which journalism is exercised very professionally.

In fact, when combined with digital platforms, these media have seen their audiences and revenues from paid subscriptions increase more than ever before.

What hasn’t ever changed is the need for humans to inform and communicate, only the ways to achieve this objective have. The new technologies allow for greater integration, greater speed and the globalization of communications. The survivors will depend on their ability or means to adapt to the new modalities.

Journalism professor Jose Luis Orihuela, at the University of Navarra, Spain, is the author of the phrase that I use as the epigraph of these reflections. His opinion, regarding the future of the press, contains this: “I have always supported the complementarity between what’s newer and what’s older, setting aside substitution. The new media don’t kill the old media, but they force them to evolve.”

– Translated from Spanish by Randy Rodriguez.