5 Reasons Why Facebook and Twitter Are No Replacement for a Real Newspaper


I can’t remember the last time I held a broad-sheet newspaper in my hands. It may well be more than a month since I read the New York Times or Washington Post in paper form.  But, while the newspaper in its traditional form may be dying, reporting is definitely not. I think there is a market for good, honest reporting; now more than ever.

Most of the news I read on a daily basis comes from: Twitter, Facebook, or an iPhone app for the particular news service I subscribe to. As a former PR professional, I miss the daily excitement of following an issue or news story and seeing how it is reported (or misreported) by different newspapers. 

It was the unstated rule that we read at least five newspapers on a daily basis, as we entered the office. I miss the ritual to this day. My ex-boss at Ogilvy Public Relations would be surprised by this.

While the circulation figures of major newspapers are dwindling, reporters are laid off, and mergers and acquisitions become the trend, the days of the old style newspapers seem to be coming to an end. But not reporting.  

A recent Huffington Post article mentioned that the New York Times digital subscriptions have exceeded their regular subscriptions according to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation reports. The article mentions that:

"Overall, the report showed that circulation was up with national daily newspapers leading the pack. Daily circulation for the 618 reporting newspapers rose .68 percent. Sunday circulation for the 532 reporting newspapers rose 5 percent. The latest figures cover the six months that ended on March 31, 2012."

While several analysts and pundits have predicted the fall of newspapers, I think the opposite is true.  Here are five reasons why I think newspapers will survive and evolve in the years to come, despite or rather because of the growth of social media and blogging:

1. While anyone with a half-baked idea can write and put up a blog-post, it takes a certain skill, aptitude, and nose for news to get to the heart of good reporting. And journalists are trained to do this.

2. There is a certain credibility that we attach to reporters that comes with plain hard-work, diligence and attention to detail. Most bloggers are not that diligent, in my experience.

3. Training makes a lot of difference. Reporting and writing analytically about complex issues takes not only domain knowledge, but also a lot of skill and investment in time and effort. Again, I am not sure how many bloggers invest this amount of time to hone their craft and check for facts and counter-facts, until they arrive at the truth. 

4. Information over-load is a real issue -- it will push people to search for fewer sources to turn to on a regular basis. This gain, will push them to more credible sources which may turn out to be the traditional newspapers or editorial media. 

5. Social media is helping traditional journalism – I am sure there are a lot of studies on this issue, but social media and content curating sites can actually help traditional newspapers gain more popularity and readership.