Choosing Print in a Social Media Driven World 


By Sophia West


“After reading newspapers for a few weeks, I began to see it wasn’t newspapers that were so great, but social media that was so bad,” said Farhad Manjoo.

Many people today use online subscriptions, social media and web search engines to find what the latest story is, while many local print news businesses are racking their brain trying to figure out what to do to stay afloat.

According to an article in the New York Times, disconnecting from social media and receiving every news update notification can help reduce stress and better inform the reader. 

“Now I am not just less anxious and less addicted to the news, I am more widely informed, though there are some blind spots,” Manjoo wrote.

Twenty-two year-old Allison Tanner holds a position on the Lewis County Board of Commissioners for the current term, furthermore, Tanner is the youngest to serve on the committee.

“I read the newspaper. It is a great way to stay connected with local events, meetings, and what’s going on in our community that you may or may not find on social media,” said Tanner. “Not to mention buying the paper is more than just reading it, it is supporting citizens of this community. When you spend $18 a year or $0.50 every time you purchase a newspaper, you are supporting the livelihood of each Lewis County Herald employee, every business or independent contractor who puts an ad in the paper, or timber harvesters, and paper making companies.”

At the same time, social media can be a useful tool as things are happening in real time. It gives people an opportunity to share their experience and to connect with others, while informing others of an event that may be occurring and bringing it to others attention. 

“I rely on social media for news in general in lieu of the paper. I singularly rely on the paper for local news that doesn’t happen to make it to the local new station. I used to rely on it for county happenings, commission and committee meetings. That all changed because I began to attend instead for a firsthand account,” said Ben Floyd, Hohenwald resident, “For example, because it was posted on the newspaper’s social media, I knew right away that lines were being dug for the new Burger King.” 

Although social media has a lot of pros, there are also some ways that it can impact an individual in a negative way. 

As a journalist, one must follow the five core principles when reporting. These principles are truth and accuracy, timeliness, fairness, objectivity and creditability. These principles keep journalists in check, whereas anyone can post on social media without having to abide by the journalistic values. 

“It allows people to think they are getting a broad view of information when in fact they are seeing only a narrow slice, and sometimes one driven by ideological extremists,” William Welch, a retired USA Today journalist wrote, “For the most part, social media is not a credible source for the news.” 

Likewise, fellow Hohenwald resident, Blake Farr, wrote that he too enjoys a hard copy over the internet to get information. 

“I don’t really choose the internet over a hard copy. I don’t know if people know this or not, but not everything you read online is true,” said Blake Farr. 

Newspaper businesses have started to fall behind since social media began increasing, however, Farr suggests that to attract a younger audience, newspapers should provide a section for them to interact with. 

“I believe that more young people would be interested in the paper if the paper had a “Young Adult Section” where young people write articles, what’s happening at school and activities around town and surrounding counties for young people that would all be posted in this section,” said Farr. 

All things considered, according to an article by Kevin Slimp in State of Newspapers, print is not going away anytime soon.

Dale Gentry, publisher of The Jefferson City (Tennessee) Standard-Banner, looks at it this way: “Though no one can accurately predict the future, I believe newspapers – independently-owned ones that cover their communities well – will remain in business for many years to come,” Gentry stated. 

“I’ve heard predictions like this before. We were all supposed to be out of business by 2000, then 2019. In places like Jefferson County, Tennessee – and many, many others across the U.S. – the newspaper is still well-supported, vital to the community, and read thoroughly. I don’t see that changing any time soon.”

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