Newspapers, are they dying?

New Straits Times (NST) group editor Rashid Yusof recently spoke about the possible death of the newspaper in his recent column.

Here’s Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye’s take on the issue.

As someone who has been reading newspapers since young, never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day print will become part of history.

An avid reader, I always start my day reading the mainstream newspapers, including NST.

Flipping through the newspapers, I would immerse in a myriad stories that range from hard news to crime stories, social issues, sports and features.

One exclusive quality that print has and the digital media can never match is its tangibility .

There is also the smell of ink on paper or the scent of newsprint which is a powerful stimuli that gives a tremendous boost to the reader’s taste.

Maybe some people may claim that I’m old school but time and again it has been proven that the newspapers will survive. While all the newspapers are focusing on digital and online transformation, I am confident that the hard copy will continue to exist and be preserved.

Doomsayers will say the days of print media are numbered. Many question what incentives readers get from the dailies when most, if not all, of their content is available online for free.

I believe that newspapers must focus on their target groups.

Print media is very much ingrained in the consumers’ collective memory, especially those aged 40s and above.

This means that people will continue to be attracted and subscribe to print media, provided that we know who they are, what they are interested in and what their needs are.

Compared with teenagers or millennials who prefer short news reports with sensational headlines, mature readers prefer in-depth news, analyses and special reports, accompanied by compelling images and graphics.

However it has been proven that students who read English newspapers, including those in the rural areas, gain better grades in their English papers.

The new government’s hands-off policy towards newsroom decisions should give the New Straits Times Press and other newspapers the opportunity to promote themselves as serious papers which practise ethical journalism. Lure them to share their policies, programmes and advertisements in the newspapers.

Other parties such as hotels and restaurants could support such initiatives by providing discount vouchers and offers to those who buy newspapers.

Newspaper companies must highlight the advantages of print advertising, which is more tangible and where readers could give their full attention on the written material. This guarantees greater engagement with the advertisement.

For older people like me, we think that the newspapers must thrive partly because the social media is full of half-truths while the online media is struggling to stay afloat due to the low advertisement rates and a lack of viable business models.

And I could not agree more with Rashid when he said that in order for the print to survive, it should take the form of daily news magazines with brilliant journalism, biting commentaries and dazzling analyses! T

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