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MTSU Mass Comm dean Paulson optimistic the future of newspapers

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Ken Paulson, dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, delivers the keynote address at the Tennessee Press Association’s Winter Conference and Press Institute in Nashville. (Photo courtesy of MTSU Media Relations)


NASHVILLE – The dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication told Tennessee’s newspaper editors and publishers on Feb. 7 the idea that the newspaper business is dying is a myth.

Ken Paulson, the keynote speaker for the closing session of the Tennessee Press Association’s Winter Conference and Press Institute, said, however, newspapers must shift in a new direction, as younger generations turn to social media and digital devices to get news.

The bright spot, he said, is the increase in popularity for tablet devices, which plays to the presentation skills and content strengths of newspapers.

He cited 2012 stats from the Online Publishers Association that said 71.4 million people are using tablets, more than half of which are from families making $50,000 or more a year and are using news apps.

“I have been on panels stretching back as far as 1995 on the death of newspapers,” Paulson said. “It’s the same question you guys get asked all the time: ‘When are newspapers going to die?’

“With the advent of the tablet, for the first time, I’m saying never. At last, we have a medium that is a logical evolution from newsprint.”

Paulson told the association that the traditional strengths of newspapers – “professionalism, readability, depth, accuracy and watchdog journalism” – remain its strengths today.

“Politicians come and go, residents move in and out. But the newspaper has been there forever, with a commitment over several lifetimes of residents,” said Paulson, who is also president of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center in Nashville.

“Our streets and streams are cleaner, our governments more honest, our citizens more equal and our courts more just in part because of the work of generations of journalists and publishers who have never lost sight of the core mission of a free press,” he said.

“As we move ahead in new and innovative ways, we must not lose sight of our oldest values.”

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dean, dying, future, Ken Paulson, mass comm, mtsu, newspapers
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Members Opinions:
February 28, 2014 at 7:44pm
As a young adult I agree with this article. Mass media is known for its adaptation to modern technology and it seems like newspaper has finally found a new medium. The growth of the Internet has given so many new possibilities for written information such as magazines and newspapers. By converting the newspaper to an electronic file it not only makes it more accessible, but also makes it more efficient. By delivering through the medium of a tablet it allows the author to save money by cutting down the cost of manufacturing. The fact of the matter is that mass media is constantly changing and the only way to survive is to adapt. By doing this it will also allow local newspaper to reach a new, more dispersed audience. Thanks to the Internet, there is an uncountable number of news outlets. I believe that do to the fact that the industry is so oversaturated, it will cause more competition between newspapers, and in doing so, will cause the authors and editors to attempt to release higher quality material. I am glad that the newspaper will continue to develop. In my opinion it is one of the less influenced form of media and I am excited to see what the future holds for it.
February 28, 2014 at 8:37pm
This article was interesting to read because I actually have a tablet that I use for news and I so have a few newspapers’ applications on it. It’s interesting that a lot of people think that the newspaper business is dying but it isn’t really because there are so many newspapers keeping up with everything and have applications on the app stores that people can download for free to get the news they want. Also there are still people getting the actual newspaper still delivered to their house, it might not be the New York Times but it is their local city newspapers. Some people may not get those newspapers because they don’t really want to know what is happening locally but they want the world news more. I also liked that the author of the article used Ken Paulson’s stats about how many people have tablets and using the news apps. I knew it would be a big number but 71.4 million people is a lot of people using them and the newspapers and other news media now have websites on the internet along with the apps now. I also thought this article was interesting because The Murfreesboro Post did an article about an MTSU professors keynote address for a conference.
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