I’m going to miss print journalism

IUS Horizon

Some of you reading this may have heard of the death of legacy gaming publication Electronic Gaming Monthly.

EGM served as the voice of gaming for a large portion of the late 20th century, providing accurate reviews of video games, intriguing previews and demonstrations and a powerful journalistic voice for a publication of its level. EGM boasted one of the most impressive staff rosters over the years, incorporating the likes of Kentucky’s own Shane Bettenhausen and journalistic stalwart, Dan Hsu.

EGM shuttered after the purchase of its parent company, 1UP.com, by the Hearst Corporation. The suits at Hearst weren’t interested in a print publication and EGM’s publisher, Ziff Davis, didn’t care to carry on the leftovers, so EGM was summarily canceled from publication earlier this month.

EGM’s end was truly the death of a legend. Founded in 1989, EGM ran 12 issues every year for slightly more than 20 years. The magazine had cemented its position as the true authority on gaming and even in its late years, EGM was still considered a solid voice in the gaming world.

With the widespread use of the Internet came the powerful concept of instant gratification and EGM’s readership suffered as a result. Readers began to think to themselves, “Why spend a whole month waiting for EGM’s review when I can just check the Internet for one?” The launch of the 1UP.com network in 2003 was intended to provide more of an instant-on portal for EGM readers, but soon began to push EGM further into the Earth’s upper crust.

The story I have just recanted is reminiscent of many a small-town newspaper’s death. Print journalism is suffering because people can’t bear to wait a few hours to read the current news. What television was to radio, the Internet is to the printed word. People won’t bother to spend the 50 cents on a newspaper when they can get it for free on the Internet. Since it’s so easy and free to get, readers let their standards drop, which is really the main problem.

I don’t have a problem with journalism moving to an Internet focus and neither should most journalists. It is a journalist’s job to inform their audience. If a writer or reporter can get the word out to their audience more quickly, all the better for them. That means they’ve done their job in spades. The problem lies in quality.

Web writing tends to be very poor. Many of the bloggers who refer to themselves as journalists have had little or no training and as a result tend to write poor articles. Most articles published on the Internet are spur-of-the-moment, frantically wrihten junk piles, shoved into a word processor. Most bloggers literally get an idea in their head and barf it into  Microsoft Word before uploading it via some sort of blogging tool.

The questions of ethics come into play much less when the Internet is involved as well. Copyrights are thrown out the window on most Web sites that steal pictures from other sites to post their own stories. It would be a more serious issue, but the site that had the picture stolen probably stole it themselves.

The worst part of all this is the plight of the modern journalist. A person like me, who would absolutely love to work in print, may find it impossible to find a job in the near future. Publications are shuttering all over the country, and a reporter has to possess countless different skills these days to get a job at a modern newspaper. Your average reporter must be able to report a story, take the pictures for that story and on many accounts, record video as well. It’s amazing that more journalists haven’t gone completely insane with the amount of work they are required to do to keep their jobs. Once upon a time, the two most valued skills a reporter could have were a keen eye for details and a graceful and powerful page stroke.

I guess I’m just unhappy with seeing the truth painted before me: My intended profession is losing steam. I hope the American people prove me wrong one day and printed publications see resurgence.

Many people my age have never even sat down with a newspaper and experienced the wealth of content and information to be gained from the printed page.

Monday, Feb. 2, is national “Buy a Newspaper” day. I hope you, the reader, will support your local publication by going out and throwing down your hard-earned 75 cents on a copy. You’ll be glad you did.