Newspapers in a coma state

The written press has begun to succumb in many countries as a direct cause of the quarantine state caused by the coronavirus pandemic, imposing a seal of human desolation on the streets and causing the economies of the world to collapse under this hard hit.

The most relevant inhibiting effect for the newspapers has come in two forms: the almost total loss of advertising, which is what generated the income for editorial support, and the absence of buyers on the streets. Now, these companies hardly count on the loyalty of subscribers.

Under enforced social isolation, the circulation of vehicles distributing the papers to subscribers is restricted and so are the newsroom employees who are now confined at their homes, therefore, there’s clearly no conditions to maintain the normal workflow of the indispensable components of production.

This quarantine has evidently also turned out to be unveiling for a good part of the consuming users that have traditionally been the accustomed to the reliable source that the newspapers represent.

In an attempt to avoid total dismissal or entering a deep coma from which it’s revival day is unknown, these traditional media resort to the aid of their best antibody: the iconographic value of their brand and tradition, indelible in heart and mind of readers.

However, the wonderful digital world has allowed them to reproduce the same printed format on their Internet platforms with the only difference being the lack of sense of touch, so things like segregating sections isn’t possible for the whole family to share some reading.

The iconographic value is what counts at this juncture. The reader does not distance himself, visually or emotionally, from the image to which he is accustomed to and that remains in his historical memory very well embedded.

If this digital ecosystem had not existed, the physical disappearance would have been total, even if it had been impregnated for decades in the mind of the reader.

The LISTIN DIARIO is an example. Under the most difficult conditions of the Trujillo dictatorship back in 1942, it stopped circulating physically. Only once a year an edition was printed just to keep the registry of it still breathing inside a grave. It remained in this state of nearly total inanition for 20 years.

But readers never forgot about it and that’s why it was able to come back to light by 1963, almost like an iceberg that emerges forcefully from the very bottom of the sea to regain the model of what it once was, being it, in this case, the exercise of a professional journalism for a democratic society.

This pandemic has certainly been a destructive pest that does not distinguish its targets. The written press, in a large extent, has been left in a coma, but not dead. With our efforts and hopes up, we could celebrate its resurrection soon.

– Translated from Spanish by Randy Rodriguez.

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