Face Off: Is the 'death of print' a bad thing?

Face Off: Is the 'death of print' a bad thing?

Each week, our two teenagers will debate a hot topic.This week ...

Rai Anna-L, 17, University of Hong Kong

Print media has entered an ice age. It's not uncommon for established newspaper and magazine companies to either close down or go online only, because fewer people are reading print material.

There are many perks to online media: for example, it's eco-friendly and more economical, and stories can be uploaded instantly instead of putting them out the next day.

But it's not all good news.

News censorship could also become more of an issue as governments could abuse censorship and cyber laws to block sensitive or unfavourable information. Just think how easy it would be for a government to shape public opinion if the only source of information was the internet, which the authorities could control and manipulate. This is already common in many countries including the mainland, Russia and North Korea.

The end of print media might also lead to a loss of readers. Although it seems impossible, not everyone in the world has access to the internet. In fact, according to Internet Live Stats, in 2014 only 40.4 per cent of the world's population went online. If print dies, how will the remaining 59.6 per cent of the world's population get their news? This proves that printed media still has a place in the world.

But it isn't only the readers who will suffer with the death of print. Advertisers will also be at a disadvantage. A study led by Millward Brown, a branding agency, revealed readers felt more affected by printed advertisements than digital ones. On top of that, many internet users mistrust online ads, causing lots of people to ignore them or even block them. This makes an advertiser's efforts completely useless.

Relying on the internet as the only means of media is a step too far. Newspapers and magazines continue to play an important role in society, and the internet can't take that away.

Cedric Li, 15, Sha Tin College

So what is the "death of print"? I had to do some research on this topic and the "death of print" refers to the idea that the internet is "killing print publishing". Ironically, I found this in an article by The Guardian, and not on its printed version, but rather on its official website.

With the rise in the number of internet users around the world, it should come as no surprise that the internet is slowly eating away at the print industry. At any given time of the day, more than 3 billion people are using the internet. And with the surge of smartphone users, the internet has become a much more accessible thing in life. It is much more convenient now for someone to look on their smartphone for live updated information than to buy a printed text for information.

So to the question: "is death of print a bad thing?" I say no. Like everything else in the world, mass media has had to evolve and adapt to survive. From the early Chinese who wrote on strips of bamboo, to the Egyptians who told stories using hieroglyphics, the medium of communication has undergone continuous change. However, the purpose of media has never changed - to express and spread ideas.

If we look at the "death of print" merely as a transition of the platform of communication from printed to digital, then we can see that there is nothing bad about this. Rather, the media industry is just going through a stage of transition and evolution to something more relevant and practical in everyday society, and we should feel happy for it. Like a butterfly breaking from a cocoon, mass media is changing for the better.

To conclude, there is nothing inherently "bad" about the death of print. Media is merely adapting to survive. We should not view this as a bad thing because it's a sign that media can continue to flourish in the modern age. As long as media itself is not lost over time, I don't think the way we receive stories is important, and therefore the death of print cannot be seen as a bad thing.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Is the 'death of print' a bad thing?


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