Back on May 2, 1924 there appeared an article in the Berkeley Daily Gazette which described how radio was going to put newspapers out of business in a few years. In fact the article went on to state that prior predictions of the telegraph, telephone, railroads, automobile, magazines and other things at one time were also proclaimed as a newspaper killer. But the newspapers adjusted to the new technologies and continued to thrive. Why? Because those who ran the newspapers ‘adjusted’ to the latest devices and moved on. They didn’t sit with one shoe nailed to the floor, running around in circles and crying in their beer.
There was this article from The Evening Independent, St. Petersburg, Florida dated February 20, 1931 in which the head line read ‘Mechanical Devices Will Never Replace Newspaper Says Journalism Director’. It seems that the head of journalism from North Western university made this statement to a gathering of journalists which was held in Athens, GA. He went on to say that talking pictures and television could not replaced the printed words found in newspapers. One will notice that this gathering was about 18 months after the big stock market crash and when confidence was down all over the country.
The Star, a Canadian paper, featured an article on February 19, 1959 in which it covered the demise of the Northern Tribune which ran into financial difficulties. The claim was that radio and TV took the advertisers away from the newspaper causing a financial hardship. Sound familiar?
The point I am trying to make is no matter how much we try to make the happenings of today seem special in some way, the more we find they only reflect the past. The current debate about newspapers failing because of the Internet we also fade away.