Print Media Across the Country Stays Alive; But Area Publications Face Big Challenges
Recent headlines have worried sports fans and many wonder if they will still be able to enjoy depictions of sports from their favorite writers and journalists in the future. Print media has been an unstable industry for nearly two decades and the latest tragedies across the country seem to have focused more on the sports journalism industry.
At first, I was devastated when I heard the news that Sports Illustrated had to lay off the majority of its staff and cease most of its operations due to contract issues. The famous sports magazine that first went into print in 1954 is going to try to somehow come back, but it isn’t looking good.
When I first heard this I was like, “What? No more in-depth interviews with your favorite stars, detailed articles on issues affecting sports and athletes, or the swimsuit edition?” Being around so long, it seems as if Sports Illustrated has built a name for themselves if anyone has.
And then it got worse. The Los Angeles Times recently announced that they were laying off over 100 employees (including several major sports journalists).
This terrifying trend has me worried because I am a fan of sports writing whether it is local or at the national level. Sports do matter because it is a favorite pastime for many who like to escape the challenges of life and dive into the world of sports.
If we take away years-old enjoyable activities like sitting down in the morning with a cup of coffee reading the sports section, what’s next? Even though people can watch professional sports, fans want more. Fans want expert analysis and pressing interviews from athletes.
And the scarier part to me is that I see sports journalism going away as just the tips of the iceberg. In the early 2000s, when the internet started becoming available in everyone’s homes, newspapers and the print media industry as a whole took a giant hit that many thought would be the end to printed forms of news and entertainment.
In fact, the United States has lost more than 2,500 newspapers since 2005 or 25 percent of the total newspapers that were in existence. And by 2025, experts say the industry could lose a third of its newspapers across the country.
But the good news is some newspapers have figured out how to survive by utilizing the internet and social media along with their printed newspaper. And in small rural areas, newspapers still seem to thrive because they provide exclusive, local coverage.
Even though the internet and social media can offer some coverage and news stories on a large variety of topics, it will never be able to provide “hyper-local” coverage. For those who want to know that the middle school basketball team won in the playoffs or that a star high school wrestler got a scholarship for college, small, local newspapers are the only source for that type of news.
The damage can also be seen at the local level. At the end of 2023, the Colorado Springs Independent shut down (possibly permanently), leaving readers who appreciated independently-owned news sources left hanging out to dry.
Local sports coverage in Teller County has also dwindled since the Pikes Peak Courier (owned by the Gazette) killed their sports section a couple of years ago. The TMJ is now the only news source that covers local, Teller County sports.
I currently work for two local print news sources and even though neither of them are going to cease operations soon, the struggles in the industry have been felt by everybody. Advertising sales are down across the board and finding employees interested and/or skilled in journalism is dwindling as well.
I get angry when I hear the common phrase around town, “Nobody reads newspapers anymore. People get their news online.” And I know for a fact (being in the industry) that these two ideas are false.
Several people still pick up printed copies for news and entertainment and other people read newspapers that would never go online for news. People do read online articles, but I know many that see one good article online and then seek out the newspaper to read the whole thing in print.
On a national level, it is going to continue to be tough to keep the print industry alive because advertisers are dropping their print ads like flies. But in smaller, more local markets, local businesses have kept them afloat, but that too is on the decline.
With so many different ways to advertise online and with social media, many have this illusion that there are better ways to reach consumers than with print ads. But do online ads stay on someone’s fridge for decades because the ad is on the same page as little Johnny winning a first place track trophy.
And the funny part is, the solution is simple. Anything that people don’t want to see go away they need to support.
Print media is on life support currently and it is going to take support from readers and advertisers alike. Local businesses harp on the fact that Teller residents should shop local to keep money in the community. The same is true for advertising locally.
Placing an ad in a local newspaper not only helps businesses gain exposure, but it helps keep hyper local news and sports coverage around. I personally think that giving little Johnny his claim to fame is more important to support than giant social media companies that offer “impressions” for small fees.