Newspapers & New Media

Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, I face an interesting juxtaposition – the same juxtaposition that media professionals across the globe face.

I leave my New Media Technology course intrigued and inspired by the ways in which technology is changing the way we communicate. And not just on a personal level. Technology has altered the way companies interact with consumers and how news is shared through citizen journalism. The rapid development of this technology is creating some interesting questions for professionals; How can a company advertise its products to you when newspapers are becoming less prevalent and you can skip any television ads with your DVR? Should advertisers shift their strategy from targeting many individuals with one ad, to personalized ads with specific targets that might ultimately create a greater return on investment? Each week, the same message is reiterated: the way we communicate has changed and we have to find a way to communicate through these new mediums and these new technological capabilities.

Immediately after that class, I head to Newspaper Design. “Old forms of media are dead” (or dying) is replaced by the message that “newspapers are still relevant”. But how can both be? We spend the class period learning about designing for a medium that has been around for decades, but is struggling to make it through the new digital age. While I enjoy the design aspect of the course, it is not nearly as exciting as my new media class, and I have begun to question its value (other than the fact that it is a pre-requisite to the magazine design course).

Even my supervisor, an associate dean in the journalism school, has asked me if I thought the school should still have a course on newspaper design. Yes, there are some valuable assets in learning in design and basic design elements. But after taking Introduction to Graphic Design (JOMC 182), I have found that most students, including myself, are able to quickly grasp these basics. And with these new questions on the digital age of media, is anything I learn in that course even relevant?

A couple of weeks ago in my new media class, we watched the following TED talk by Jacek Utko. Utko is a European newspaper designer whose works have won “World’s Best Designed Newspaper” by Society for News Design, in the largest international design competition. Utko admits that “newspapers are dying” and that there is “no practical reason for these papers to survive”. However, with great design, the papers he created in Europe were able to flourish and increase in sales – just because of design.

So maybe there is hope for my newspaper design course. By using basic design principles, and twisting them to a modern way, newspapers can have success in a digital age. Creativity is key in the world of new media – whether it is used to keep a newspaper running, or reach an audience who thanks to improvements in technology have the choice of whether or not they want to listen.

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