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. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Sabith Khan

Sabith Khan is a social entrepreneur, researcher and founder of MENASA, a think-tank and policy shop engaged in issues related to MENA and South Asia. Sabith has worked for several years in the field of strategic communications, public affairs and nonprofit management, trying to understand and communicate issues pertaining to civil society, development and youth in the US and MENA region. Sabith has worked with several large global public affairs firms, on award-winning campaigns in healthcare, entertainment and government relations. During his stint at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, he ideated and executed a global award-winning campaign for Apollo Hospitals (Abby and Clio Awards). He has also worked in the Middle East managing accounts as diverse as Dubai Film Festival, Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation, Dubai International Film Festival, Dubai School of Government. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of Muslim Public Service Network in Washington D.C, an NGO that engages and inspires young American Muslims to do public service. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Planning Governance and Globalization at Virginia Tech. He has been involved as a team member and leader in several international development projects including consulting for the Near East Foundation, in helping set up their Monitoring and Evaluation system for their offices across the MENA region. Sabith has a Master of Public administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. In Summer 2013, he conducted research on American Muslim philanthropy at the Lilly School of Philanthropy, Indianapolis, in an attempt to map giving behavior among Muslims over the last ten years i.e., 2002- 2012. Sabith’s research interests include Religion and Philanthropy, Youth issues in USA, Middle East North Africa and South Asia, Governance and Civil Society. Sabith is also the co-editor of Millennials Speak: Essays on the 21st century, a snapshot of the ideas and opinions of the global Millennial Generation. Twenty writers from five continents, a diverse mix of young academics, policy professionals, and future thought and creative leaders, cover topics from the legacy of the Arab Spring, the global food system, the U.S. student loan crisis, youth unemployment, to popular culture. Currently working: Founder and Executive Director, MENASA Publications: 1. Humanitarian Aid and Faith-Based Giving: The Potential of Muslim Charity - Unrest Magazine, George Mason University. May 2013. Accessible at http://www.unrestmag.com/about-unrest/past-issues/#sthash.GEqNfv0U.dpuf 2. Arab American Diaspora and American Muslim Philanthropy: impact of crisis situations on mobilization and formation of a “community.” American University in Cairo Press. Cairo. (NP). Expected Fall 2013. 3. Middle-East Peace Talks 2010: Investigating the Role of Lobbying and Advocacy Groups in Washington, D.C. as Spoilers. Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Spring 2011. Accessible at : http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/parcc/Research/intrastate/Spoilers_of_Peace_Project/ Blog: www.sabithkhan.wordpress.com

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