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Editorial – Friday October 11th. 2019

Editorial – Friday October 11th. 2019
October 11
11:32 2019

Newspapers have played a critical role in the life of every nation and in the development of human society ever since the German inventor, Gutenberg, developed a printing press with movable type some 450 years ago.

The first European newspaper was published in 1553 and the first American newspaper in 1690. The dawn of the 17th century saw the rapid deployment of the newspaper as a vehicle for delivering news and useful information.

There has always been a demand for reliable news and useful information, and newspapers which set out to furnish these have had to develop skills of investigative and professional reporting on a wide range of subjects, including but not limited to business, economics, politics, education, science and medicine and human affairs.

By keeping alive the freedom of information, newspapers have added to the stability of democratic institutions across the globe and have been a bulwark against crime and official excesses.
– – All this is about to change – – 

Newspapers support themselves with income which they receive from advertisers.

But with the arrival of the Internet and the social media, newspaper advertising revenues all over the world have plummeted.

Many newspapers, including dailies like The Guardian, (formerly the Manchester Guardian, established 1821) with an illustrious heritage, have had to close down their print edition and exist today only on-line.

The allure of the internet and social media is that they can deliver news and videos in real time, at a speed which print newspapers and even television cannot match.

The new medium does not even have to be literate or well informed. It can latch onto a piece of news from any of a dozen different sources and present it as an event.

Worse, it can take reports from genuine working sources and present them as its own.

Moreover, the new medium is not bound by guidelines of objectivity. News and views are jumbled together to make a platter of mux, a data selection with no particular eye for accuracy, style or literary value.

For all the improvisations, social media is attractive to both readers and advertisers and newspapers have been seeing a steady decline in advertising revenue and circulation.

In Belize newspaper advertising revenues have shrunk by more than 20 percent since 2017. Advertisers have flocked to the new digital age and show no inclination of wanting to come back to print advertising.

Newspapers continue to hold on to advertising which require attention to details such as formal notices, tenders, public auctions, annual reports and so on, but the global trend in advertising for newspapers has been downward with no relief in sight.

If the downward trend continues, it is only a matter of time before we see the collapse of newspapers, not only in Belize, but all over the world as well, the humiliating end of a once proud era.

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