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Why Newspapers and Television are making themselves obsolete.

For a long time, Newspapers and Television were king of the Media jungle.  That’s not so much the case these days.

Why is that? The internet, that’s what.  It’s no surprise that old-school forms of medium have had their heyday and are now finding themselves struggling to keep up.

Newspapers for a couple of coins gave you the headlines, the latest of what was going on in your immediate world.  You could take it everywhere you wanted, and when you were done with it, you’d simply dispose of it in the trash or recycle it (by leaving it sit so others could read it, or disposing of it in the Recycle Bin).  It’s biodegradable after all.

Television started out black and white and progressed into color, changing with the times, offering more and more.  The introduction of TV news cast a hard blow to the newspaper industry, yet newspapers persevered.  TV became the visual medium of choice and paper ads grew up into visual and audio ads.  Buy this, buy that!  TV also became a form of entertainment, something more than just news.  Sure, the newspapers had the “Funny Pages”, but a look at history reveals over the years the “Funny Pages” has shrunk from several pages long to but a mere page.  In this economy one would think people would seek out more fun and entertainment, not less.  I suppose newspapers were driving back to their roots, hoping news alone would carry them through the tough times.

So we’ve got TV, which is providing news, entertainment, a new way to advertise, and a willing audience/public accustomed to sitting around like a lump on a log absorbing the data.  A very passive form of medium, where you’re no longer actively turning pages of a newspaper, but instead using a clicker.  Two hand movements have been reduced to one hand movements.  But like newspapers, content is being pushed to you.  It’s like, “Here you go.  This is what you need to know.  Boom! Ta da!  Aren’t we grand?”

Enter the Internet.  This technology has grown exponentially and has quickly displaced TV and Newspapers, turning them into “Legacy Products”.  Legacy products are to the computer industry products that have served their lifespan and are on the decline and are quickly becoming outdated and irrelevant.  Now we’ve got WiFi and mobile devices, and two-handed activity has gone to one handed which has gone now to two thumbed.  Content is coming to you, it’s being pushed to you, but now you can push back.  You can upload your content.  Through services like YouTube you can share videos.  Through Instagram you can share photos.  It’s more interactive, more engaging.  Ads, too, have adapted, from static ads to banner ads to multimedia audio and video ads.  The internet is the future and TV and Newspapers are finally accepting that reality.  It’s about freakin’ time.

Now many news outlets have an online presence.  TV programming has too!  Go to Hulu.com or PBS.org for free TV programming.

On a side note, regrettably CableTV into the PC has had very little support, especially from the CableTV companies.   For one, CableTV refuses to cater to customers’/viewers’ desires to bypass ads.  What they don’t realize is some customers actually like watching ads/commercials.  But a great many of us do not.  Give us a skip option and let us be on our way to watching the rest of our program.  Anybody who wants to check out the ads is more than open to.  Though I generally hate commercials there are some which I actually enjoy watching, particularly those put out by Apple (big fan!), eSurance (the original animated spokeswoman), Geico (the Gecko), and eTrade (the baby!  Gotta love the baby!).

Due to their lack of supporting technology, they themselves are losing support from their viewership.  Because the Cable Companies are refusing twelve ways from Sunday to offer á là carte TV programming, they’re driving customers away.  I myself am seriously considering terminating my CableTV entirely, in favor of watching any of my many movies from my DVD collection.  If I do so, and tire of the DVDs in my collection, I can always order something like NetFlix or do RedBox (which I presently do since the deaths of Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video).

That brings us back to Technology.  With technology we can read and watch our news just about any way they please.  If they wish to force us to watch ads first, before playing the content, that’s fine…just know advertisers and content-providers that if we’re not interested in commercials we exercise the right to move onto some other programming, some other content, even some other channel/company/station/provider entirely.  Because Newspapers and CableTV are dragging their heels so bad, it’s left them looking like the last ones to the party, coming over to technology begrudgingly.   Through technology, leading companies are constantly working on ways to bring in that which we once enjoyed with newspapers and television:  the “look and feel” of a book, the act of turning a page.  Just about anything short of having smell-o-vision where you can smell what the pages of a book are like, or the smell of the food on Food Network.

In a few years I anticipate most newspapers (save for specialized or local neighborhood papers) to be out of business entirely.  And CableTV will have less than half their current membership.  As I mentioned previously, one of CableTV’s problems is trying to force you into one package or another.  They have supposedly over 900 channels yet there literally is very little of value worth watching.  I generally enjoy SyFy (the lame-spelled and immature version of SciFi), but they put on garbage like Ghost Hunters, and Natural Disaster movies, and Horror Movies.  I watch Food Network but there’s only so many shows about cooking you can watch at any given time.  PBS isn’t too bad, and The Learning Channel is kind of cool, but here you’re only looking at 10-15 channels when all is said and done.  Who on earth still watches so-called “premium channels” these days?!  Who out there actually watches and subscribes to HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, et al?! I sure don’t.  They don’t have any compelling content to make it worth watching.  TV is so desperate that they re-run old series’ like Fantasy Island and Little House on the Prairie, series’ that were popular in their time, and TV Networks are finding the older classics are doing better and getting better viewership than today’s programming!  The other issue CableTV companies are causing is that they refuse to work with their customers and take a take-it-or-take-it approach.  They load up your TV package with channels that don’t work (full of white noise or colored vertical bars) or foreign language channels.  I’m sorry but why must you subject me to 15 channels in Spanish when I don’t even know that language? If you want to run Mexican programming, why don’t you force them to dub them in English?! And there’s what, only one, maybe two, asian channels? And either they’re subtitled in Chinese or Vietnamese or Japanese or they’re in an asian language without subtitles!? What is WRONG with you TV execs anyway?! Get a clue!

CableTV has tried all sorts of tricks to tie their content into High Definition TV (aka HDTV) on-screen menus, but they haven’t been readily adopted by TV viewers.  And the beauty of HDTV is you don’t HAVE to have CableTV.  TV is but one OPTION for today’s viewer.  Any HDTV can be used for viewing DVDs, VHS Tapes, BluRay Movies, DVDs from other “zones” around the world, viewing photos and home movies, and game consoles and for outputting any content from your iPod or iPad or Home Desktop Computer.

And lest you assume that Technology alone is the enemy or culprit of such changes, it’s also the Environmentalists who are on the bandwagon to eliminate paper (i.e. killing trees) and plastic (i.e. killing plastic trees) from the world.  Hence we may one day see the end of the glossy paper of magazines.  And in time we may see the demise of magazines as a form of entertainment.  I personally believe magazines will at least outlive newspapers, only because the world’s culture is still pretty big into celebrity and people look to magazines and the internet for the latest news on their favorite celebs.

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