The Telegraph, The Internet, and Paid Media

The advancements made due to the creation of a trans-Atlantic telegraph mirror those at the later advent of the internet. For the first time, messages were able to travel at what was then considered to be a reasonable pace. Messages of peace, war, triumph, and defeat could be transmitted in a matter of hours, rather than months and a world community could finally be established. The telegraph allowed news to be covered in real time while interested parties waited breathlessly around the globe for the latest updates. Many in the news industry saw this as a death knell. If people could get the latest news at the telegraph office, why would they pay for it in print form? More entrepreneurial editors found ways to take advantage of developments and change the industry. When a major story was breaking, multiple editions of the paper would be published throughout the day, capitalizing on new developments as they became available, and interested piqued as the day went on. Some readers would even buy multiple editions throughout the day to keep up with the breaking story. The telegraph could easily have provided  a “filter bubble” of its own, with individuals receiving conflicting information depending upon which sources they relied upon, but the invention ended up facilitating mass media, bringing news to a more engaged audience.

Many arguments against the filter bubble of the internet follow a similar line of reasoning: If everyone is posting the news on their Facebook pages or their Twitter feeds,  why would anyone pay for a newspaper? Perhaps the internet does provide a singular turning moment in history, where individuals need only rely upon first hand accounts of the news to “get the full story.” I believe it is more likely that the news media will find ways to adapt to this new era of technology. Already we see the LA and New York Times setting up paywalls and limiting access to some content to subscribers. These systems may not currently be increasing the newspaper readership, but as outlets like the New York Times create more inventive infographics and documentaries, they have a great opportunity to argue why paid media still holds such an important place in our society. The internet, like the telegraph before it also allows news to be easily disseminated to those who can’t or won’t pay for a paper. Even if one doesn’t have the time or will to sit and watch CNN or the nightly news, a quick skim of their Facebook newsfeed will get them caught up with the most popular headlines.

The telegraph provided both obstacles and lifelines for the news industry. The internet could provide similar opportunities to inform citizens and find money-making opportunities for the press.

This entry was posted in Winter 2012. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Telegraph, The Internet, and Paid Media

  1. goblu says:

    I do agree with your statement saying that the telegraph provided both obstacles and lifelines for the new industry at the time. However, in the first paragraph you say that if print makers had not created a constant news update, society could have turned into a filter bubble with the invention of the telegraph. While I do think that the telegraph posed some marketing problems, I do not agree with the filter bubble idea. The whole basis of the internet filter bubble is that entire news stories are lost because of an algorithmic filter. In regards to the telegraph, the only thing that would have changed was the medium to which people got their news, not which story was given to the person at the telegraph office. The telegraph could have changed the medium to which people received their news but it would have been very difficult, at that time, to actually filter out certain stories based on preference because technology was not advanced enough to know that information.

  2. margauxsax says:

    Lauren posed the question-If everyone is posting the news on their Facebook pages or their Twitter feeds, why would anyone pay for a newspaper? It is important to note that the original source of these headlines link back to online newspapers and blogs. Paid media plays an important role in the stories and information we receive online, and it is necessary for the news media to continue adapting to the increasing use of social media. I follow NYtimes on twitter and scan through their feed to read, retweet, or comment on articles. Users are able to engage with the news media on a new level and this should continue. The creation of the telegraph gave readers multiple editions of newspapers to keep up with updated stories. Now online, newspapers report on breaking news stories in real time and update them without printing multiple editions. NYtimes social media presence, online editions, and limiting the number of articles a reader can view without a subscription are ways that news media has adapted to money making opportunities but it’s a bandaid, not the solution.

  3. bdisant611 says:

    The answer to Lauren’s question on why would anyone pay for a newspaper with the advent of social media is clear, people probably won’t continue to buy newspapers. I grew up enjoying newspaper’s such as the New York Times and Newsday, but that is because that was because they were at my front door every morning and I did not pay for it. As our generation continues to grow up and become financially independent, paying for subscriptions to newspaper will rank further and further down the list as necessities. I have a similar experience as margauxsax’s post above where I run into the limit on the amount of stories I can see a day with a certain type of media. The reason that this does not force people to purchase a media service is because of all the alternatives the internets provides. For example, if I have reached my limit on NYtimes, I can go to the Huffington Post, Washington Post, and LA Times. It is definitely an unfortunate problem for the future as the quality and choices of media continue to improve and multiply, however the demand does not necessarily increase. I believe the solution to this has to be increased advertising. One of the things our generation has learned to cope with is a high volume of ads if it means that the product is cheaper or free.

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