Newspaper death

An assortment of foreign newspapers at a Norwegian library
You can still read the most important Norwegian and foreign newspapers at Norwegian libraries, but that may not be the best source of critical, independent information in the future

Sometimes I wonder if the newspapers will put themselves out of business. Their readers may have been loyal in the past, but that may have changed. Norway is known for many newspapers. It seems like every little hamlet has its own press, and many of us read multiple local, regional and national newspapers.

The trend in Norway is for newspapers to charge for news on their online editions. Some charge for all news stories, while some have a mix of free and subscription. Among the free stuff they focus on entertainment.

I haven’t read the paper edition of the local news paper I grew up with since I moved away 6 years ago. I recently checked out the online edition. It turned out you had to pay for all news stories, and the rest could best be described as hustle and bustle. They had silly videos, gossip, social media etc.

I’m not sure it’s worth paying for news either. They claim they have to charge for online news because journalism costs, but there is also a trend that media outlets don’t want to spend any money. I had a practicum in the regional newspaper in my hometown Haugesund in 2006. I believe it was around that time the British compamy Mecom bought the Norwegian Edda Media, which this paper was a part of. That resulted in cuts all over the place and less and less of the job was done in Haugesund. Because technology can let you work from anywhere my local newspaper was produced in 4 different counties.

Later a Norwegian group called A-press bought the company from Mecom. That meant someone else had to save money, and things probably didn’t get any better. This year there’s been a lot of talk about freelancers and journalists working on short term contracts being out of jobs. This is a part of saving money, or shooting themselves in the foot.

I miss the critical, investigative journalists, the ones that dig deep, but maybe they dug too deep and couldn’t get out again? There is certainly no room for them in the large media outlets, the ones that wants to do everything, preferably without any costs. I have no idea what services the newspapers offer these days, but it seems like they are becoming less concerned with the written language and news stories that actually requires an effort. I have written about yellow journalism before. There is also a lot of copying. Instead of checking facts newspapers are content with printing some else’s sloppy work.

News is mostly entertainment today. People’s reading habits are changing. Norwegians still read a lot, but some of us won’t stick around waiting for the previous watch dogs to watch. There are plenty of alternative sources. The community of bloggers is one of them.

The budget cuts in Norwegian papers have been a hotly debated topic this spring/summer, and it has actualized an old word, newspaper death (avisdød). One of the newspapers had an article about a year ago that claimed the blog was dead. It had had its time in the spotlight, but would soon disappear. As long as they continue not asking questions, I think not.

News is not dead, but the traditional media outlets might be. It’s up to all of us to ask questions and look up information. Waiting for someone else to do the job is not an option.


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