Newspapers: Trend or Term?


In an earlier posting, I opposed the current Public Relations industry panic that “the media is dying.” I maintain that the media is alive and well; it’s evolving. Those of us working in the PR world need to promote that fact that despite cutbacks and right-sizing, the media, including newspapers, is more important than ever.


One way to do this may be to update the definition of terms. Let’s start with the word newspaper.


Most people still see a newspaper as news printed on paper. I submit that even those media outlets that stopped printing and distributing news on paper in favor of an online-only model can still be called newspapers.


We’re already using the word publish with an online meaning. When I’m finished writing this piece, I will hit a button labeled “publish” so you can read it via this blog site. Not many years ago, the word “publish” meant physically producing and disseminating printed pages for public consumption. We’re already far beyond that definition in this digital age. We’ve updated these terms in our lexicon:


  • A file is no longer limited to something in a manila folder
  • To dial-in or dial-up does not require the use of a rotary phone
  • A press kit does not – and should not! – need to be a wasteful and environmentally unfriendly box of junk that PR folks send to journalists who throw them away
  • A record can be a compact disc, not only vinyl
  • An album is a collection of songs, not only on vinyl


Those last two are still hurdles for some people! Let’s all say it together….CDs are records…albums are collections of songs….


Here are a few others to think about. Is “The Office” a Television show? Of course it is, though millions of us do not watch it on a Television but via iTunes, Hulu, DVDs on a laptop, or on a monitor on an airplane.


Are companies like Best Buy or Toys R Us only retail stores, or are they suppliers of goods both digital and physical? I say the latter. I’m a huge Toys R Us customer in my nearly three years of fatherhood, yet I haven’t stepped into a brick & mortar Toys R Us location since I was a kid.


So why are we limiting the term newspaper to exclude digital editions? We need to stop hitting the panic button every time a favorite newspaper or magazine goes online-only and realize that the newspaper lives on. And in the digital world, that means lives on forever.


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