Is Technology Killing Print Journalism in the U.S.?

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In the very early age of journalism, the emergence of technology in the shape of power-steamed machines helped print media outlets to lower the cost of printing by one-sixth and significantly boost readership across the United States. In the present era, advanced technology, especially the internet, now seems to be destroying the readership of print journalism.

An increasing number of people, especially millennials, are turning to social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, as well as online media outlets for news consumption, said Mark Neuzil, a professor of communication and journalism at the University of St. Thomas, during a lecture on history of American journalism. "By 2008, the internet passed newspapers as a primary source of news," he added.

Today, approximately 40 percent of Americans get news online, which is almost twice the size of news readership for print newspapers, according to the PEW Research Center, a Washington-based non-partisan "fact tank". Other broadcasting platforms, including TV and radio, make up the rest.    

Prior to the invention of steam-powered printing machines, Benjamin Harris published the first colonial newspaper, The Publick Occurrences, during the 17th Century in Boston. It was shut down by the British rulers following its first edition for not having an operating license. In the 19th century, technology innovations, including the inventions of the power-steamed press and the telegraph, continued to shape journalism by helping lower the cost of paper from six cents to a penny and boost readership across the United States and perhaps the world.

While technology has improved many aspects of life, print newspapers also are facing a huge loss in classified ad revenue because of free websites, such as Craig's List, which was founded in the 2000s by Craig Newmark. The newspapers' ads, often making 30 percent of income, significantly plunged in that period, said Neuzil.

From 2006 to 2014, daily newspaper circulation in the U.S. declined every six months, and the number of newsroom jobs has fallen by 33 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.

Social media as a news source is also replacing traditional media in nations where access to the internet is limited. My home Afghanistan is no exception – whenever a bomb goes off in downtown Kabul, people go to Facebook or Twitter for details.