By Alyssa Meier
Editor’s note: Alyssa is the recipient of the first Inspired Woman Scholarship. This is the essay that accompanied her scholarship application.
Newspapers are dying.
It’s a common utterance today as more and more publications go digital, and news finds a new home online.
As a small-town newspaper editor, I have grown accustomed to having my career questioned by family members and strangers alike.
“What is your back-up plan for when newspapers close shop?”
My response is simple: I don’t have a plan for the day newspapers die because newspapers are not dying.
Like the transportation industry didn’t die when steam locomotives were replaced by trains powered by diesel and electricity.
Like the music industry didn’t die when vinyl records were abandoned for 8-tracks, which were replaced by cassettes, which were left behind for compact discs, which were replaced by downloading mp3s.
Like modern medicine didn’t die with the abandonment of chloroform as an anesthetic or cocaine as a treatment for depression.
As with any industry, as the world around us changes, we are forced to maneuver foreign terrain. We study our history and adjust accordingly. We examine the needs of a new audience, a new reality. We look ahead and ask what we need to do to survive and to thrive.
We do not crumble into the footnotes of history.
We do not die. We evolve.
We grow from hand-written newsletters that circulated Europe to digital presses that produce thousands of copies an hour. We create typewriters, computers and innovative design programs to increase our efficiency. And when a new digital era comes knocking at our door, we adapt further.
Journalists pair print stories with live videos on social media and special exclusives online, merging two worlds and two audiences.
Weekly newspapers use new technologies to stretch outside of their regular publication schedule, providing timely news updates and breaking stories to a growing online following.
National publications use booming digital advertising revenue to continue funding print issues, which year after year find an audience.
I don’t worry about the fate of this industry and I don’t have a back-up plan. For as long there is an audience, a need, a purpose to fulfill, newspapers will be there.