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Is print media dying out and being displaced by digital media?

In recent years, the use of the Internet has increased enormously, but the use of offline media has declined. Will print media become extinct?

Is print media dying out and being displaced by digital media?
   Reading time: 6 Minutes

While for many as a child the Internet was really still uncharted territory, today it is taking on an ever-increasing role. What “used to” be a paper book is now an e-book, as an example. 

The print industry is in a constant state of change, but for some years now growth has been declining and the market, due to the enormous number of magazines and newspapers, is saturated. However, it is not only the print media themselves that are affected by this change, but also the advertising that is placed via them.

As a result of this decline, many people are asking the question: Is the Internet possibly the end of print media?

In order to answer this question, it is important to know the function of mass media. Mass media includes both online and offline media.

1. Obtaining information and forming opinions: Mass media should offer users the absolute possibility of being able to obtain sufficient information to subsequently form an opinion. Here, too, mass media can act in a supporting role.

2.Government control: Mass media are the mirror of the government and its mouthpiece to the population. With the help of the mass media, decisions, issues, etc. are communicated to the population. They also play an important role in the structure of the three powers and are regarded as the fourth power (executive, judicial and legislative, media) in the German vernacular.

3. Expressing criticism: Mass media are also the people’s mouthpiece for the government and politics. Through mass media, all users can form their opinions and make them known and report back to the government. The media must perform this task and fulfill it sufficiently.

Until now, these three functions have been covered primarily by the print media, in this case newspapers and magazines. For a few years now, however, these functions have been increasingly taken over by the Internet. Unlike print media, many services online are free of charge, which has drastically increased the number of Internet users. This growth is now also being clearly felt by offline media, in the form of declines in user numbers.

Um die Printmedien sortieren zu können, durch ihre hohe Anzahl, kann man die Branche in zwei Bereiche einteilen: Die professionelle Nutzung und die konsumative Nutzung.

Professional use refers to the type of print media used in the field of the profession. This includes specialist journals that can be of use to the user in their professional activities. Consumptive use, meanwhile, refers to the areas that we use in our everyday lives. This includes categories such as entertainment, politics and tips for life. In this case, print media refers to any form, i.e., books, newspapers, magazines, and so on.

The areas can also be covered only by online publications, but their credibility should always be doubted, because it is very difficult to check the accuracy of the contributions.

In addition, print media offer advantages that online media can probably never really achieve: 

  1. aesthetics
  2. optics
  3. haptics

Print media are often purchased only because they are aesthetically pleasing and also usually make a nice decoration (in the form of books). At the same time, many users assume that the content is of higher quality and better researched if the look is high-quality and “glossy”. Online media “shine” as well, but only through the screen, but this has nothing to do with haptics!

By using the Internet, however, one saves space in the trash can, saves paper, can simply click away bad articles and is live and everywhere. Through the Internet, every user is offered an incredible variety that has probably overtaken the print media by now.

To find out for ourselves what the younger generation in particular prefers, we launched a survey on The result was that a full 80% of those who voted still read print media, in our case magazines and journals, and do so quite enthusiastically. They also use online media, but since these are no longer necessarily free, according to one person, they mainly read news from magazines and journals! And the print media they read are not necessarily thrown away, but end up on open bookshelves so that many more people can read them.


First column: Print media
Second column: Online media

The conclusion

Online media are now superior to print in many areas. In addition, the growing number of Internet users gives companies and providers a greater and better chance of reaching people by placing online advertising, much more so than print media can. 

The Internet offers users great diversity in publications, communication and reach, but at the same time reveals many negative sides. These include a lack of security and the fact that copyrights can hardly be guaranteed. 

On the side of print media, however, there are still immensely many lovers of the industry who often and gladly buy offline media, which does not cause the sales figures to drop too drastically.

It can be concluded that online media will continue to grow and will continue to play a major role, but they will not be able to displace print media!

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