Ever since the rise of the digital medium, print has seen the former as its competitor. Although it is not true, the massive reach of digital media has made print owners shudder. It’s a big business game of selling content, which needs more eyeballs, views, clicks, taps, et al. While both the media have their own merits and demerits, consumers, aka readers, are more concerned about the authenticity of the content.
Digital medium publishes content, which is quick and easy to consume for readers. For content creators, the challenge of distribution has never been a worry. This is where the traditional print medium suffers a significant setback. The speed with which online media deliver news, articles, and other contents pose a severe threat to print medium. Apart from quick reach and low-cost of content creation/distribution, print and digital have to fight a more severe menace of authenticity.
Digital vs Print Medium: The Question of Authenticity
Whether it is print or digital, there is always a pressure lurks on to generate content. Consumers need something new every hour. People have access to several websites and social media pages to read the content of their choice. Print, with its limitation, cannot achieve this speed; but then it can always boast about its ability to serve better quality content with all facts and figures checked.
The Pressure of Generating Content 24×7 (Online and TV)
Journalism is the ability to meet the challenge of filling space – Rebecca West
Traditionally, print medium heavily relies on first-hand information, and therefore, they appoint reporters and journalists to get a detailed report. With time, print has adopted new tactics of translation (from other print sources, of course); it has also geared up itself for competition and added smart devices to its kitty to cover events.
This gives news aggregators enough time to check the background of any event. There is a constant fear of criticism from competitors and readers alike if something wrong is published. Remember, the print medium can never delete or uninstall anything once it is published and reached the consumers’ doorsteps.
To fill that blank sheet with readable material, media professionals go extra miles to collect accurate information. However, they do this exercise for news only. They know their competition, and so a quick takeaway from subscription-based content has made a successful foray into traditional media.
Publishing news is the biggest challenge for the print medium. But the medium cannot do anything about this – they are in print! By the time a daily, weekly, or monthly is out, digital media finds its way into the smartphones, tablets, or computers of consumers.
An online medium, on the other hand, is facing a different challenge. Users continuously stay online to read, watch, and listen to content. Once they consume something, they need something more and different. Variety is the spice of life. In their efforts to satiate multiple tastebuds of users, online media has to churn out several ideas.
If we take a close look at the content consumption habit of online viewers, they explore several websites simultaneously. Only the best content can keep them glued to a web page; they won’t bat their eyelids to switch tabs when content fails to inform or entertain them.
So the creators of content have the dual responsibility of coming up with exciting stories at high speed. Here lies the catch. Keep the viewers engaged for a long time on a webpage. The writing is on the wall. Even if you make a few errors, it can be rectified later since it is your virtual space with full control in your hands. For print, once the die is cast, there is no point of return.
Speed Thrills, But It Kills the Facts & Figures
In the beginning and middle of the 20th century, Radio and TV dominated the media industry. And many felt that the two would hit the last nail in print medium’s coffin. The emergence of the audio and visual medium was seen as the last thing on this earth to rule the media world. To people’s surprise, the Internet happened in the late eighties.
This has changed the definition of speed. Lightning-fast delivery of content with fiber optics has forced media to think differently. The entire gamut of selling content witnessed a sea-change as it became super easy for distributors and consumers to give and take content.
But then a new challenge was waiting upon the digital world – an overdose of information and entertainment. With smart devices at their disposal and the cheap Internet, media agencies mushroom in the nineties; at the onset of the new millennium, viewers were spoiled for choices.
Now the scene is competitive. Everybody is vying for the attention of viewers; the more, the better. In this race, correct information and quality of content were put on the back burner. The number of visitors decides the popularity of a platform. And to stay at that position, people behind that digital outlet adopt smart tricks. As a result, the authenticity of information is compromised in the efforts of disseminating content fast.
Online Medium Engages with Audience Proactively
Every morning, people have to wait for dailies to be delivered by vendors. It is not the case with the online medium; they are proactive and find ways and means to send their links to the subscribers or readers. They don’t wait for the audience to come to their portals.
This motivates print medium to shift base. Major print publications have their websites, and they keep their pages engaging by adding fresh content regularly. The competition is fierce.
To a degree, traditional media outlets have succeeded in retaining their loyal audience. New media agencies flourishing online took the assistance of digital marketing to create a strong brand. Of course, the content has always been a king for both media.
Who is More Trustworthy?
When I look at the Internet, I feel the same as when I am walking through Coney Island. It’s like carnival barkers, and they all sit out there and go, “Come on in here and see a three-legged man!” So you walk in, and it’s a guy with a crutch.
Probably Jon Stewart has nicely explained the online medium. But then not all digital media outlets cheat their visitors. To bring in more visitors, who in turn help generate more money, online media adopt such practices. Clickbait headlines have become an order of the day. However, we cannot treat other outlets, which have garnered popularity and respect of users, in the same refrain as we do the culprits.
But the question is still there: which medium is more reliable? Where should readers go to consume content?
Although it is debatable, I think readers are the best judge to select a medium. Both media have their merits and demerits. Quality and truthfulness of content will decide the popularity of an outlet.
Authenticity is honesty. When any media creates content with honesty, readers will follow them. Clickbait titles work for the first couple of days, and then, they will find their way into trash cans. Remember, millennials are smart enough to see the real picture behind a smokescreen you create.
“Journalism is literature in a hurry” – Matthew Arnold
At the end of the day, it is money. Content is the only product any media house can sell. And that is their bread and butter. But then the media has a greater responsibility for distributing facts and not factoids. It is their lookout how they wrap the facts in a beautiful package to sell. When the package takes the front seat, it is the facts that suffer most. Filling the blank space on a paper or a webpage is a daunting task, but the quantity should not be victorious at the expense of quality. If they can prove Mr. Arnold wrong, they can rule the fourth estate.
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