Newspapers must ‘evolve or die’

Brittney Richerson - Photo by Mike Haynes

Opinion by Brittney Richerson

Newspapers are not what they used to be. As technology advances, people are relying less and less on print media, forcing newspapers worldwide to evolve or die.

Polish designer Jacek Utko understands this concept quite possibly better than anyone else out there.

“Newspapers are dying for a few reasons,” Utko said in his talk at the annual TED conference in 2009. “Readers don’t want to pay for yesterday’s news, and advertisers follow them. Your iPhone, your laptop is much more handy than New York Times on Sunday.”

Under Utko’s direction, Poland’s Puls Biznesu and Estonia’s Aripaev were named “World’s Best Designed Newspaper” by Society for News Design in 2004 and 2007 in the largest international design competition.

His Puls Biznesu front pages were named “Cover of the Year” in Poland three years in a row.

His award-winning concept?

“Front page is a poster- an intimate, artistic statement,” Utko said. “Personal interpretation of reality; my channel to talk to readers.”

Utko’s approach not only won publications under his artistic direction awards at the national and international levels, but circulation for these newspapers also increased drastically.

Over three years, circulation of newspapers sporting his colorful, creative, poster-like front pages in Russia increased 29 percent.

In Poland, the increase was 35 percent and in Bulgaria, the increase was 100 percent.

Did design do this? Can creative design alone save newspapers?

“No,” Utko said in his TED talk. “Not alone.”

Sure, a newspaper has to be visually appealing to catch attention, but once it is in the reader’s hands, the content has to be satisfying, too.

That brings to mind one of my favorite quotes:

“It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world everyday always just exactly fits in the newspaper,” comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said.

The New York Times may still dawn the motto, “All the news that’s fit to print,” but the truth is even the world’s most respected newspapers cannot fit everything newsworthy into a daily print edition.

Enter technology and the World Wide Web.

Yet another cause of pain in the print industry, but newspapers are left with no choice. They must go electronic, at least to an extent, if they wish to save themselves from extinction.

Most modern day newspapers post all of their content online and several do it for free, like our local paper, the Amarillo Globe-News. Papers with a higher circulation, like The New York Times and papers in the UK, actually charge for a subscription to their online editions.

It is a sticky situation. The news is so readily available with the click of a mouse, the touch of a free app on our smart phones or the push of a button on our remote controls or car radios.

The newspaper industry is facing quite the beast.

Convergence, the blurring or even erasing of the lines that once separated print from other media, is everything now.

If you visit The Ranger online at, you are going to find a lot more than text and photos.

The site offers videos and photo slideshows as well as a few interactive infographics, like the 9/11 timeline that allows viewers to see a series of images and videos from the day of the attacks.

Newspapers are also taking advantage of the social media world, sharing news and updates through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other popular sites.

Here at The Ranger, we are doing our best to satisfy fans of a traditional newspaper while reaching out to the younger generation.

We can be found on Facebook at, where we keep the Amarillo College community up to date on campus news, upcoming events and host contests for weekly giveaways. Follow us on Twitter, @ACRanger, or visit us at

A brand new website is currently in the works, which we will have more exciting news about as the semester progresses.

How do you prefer to consume your news? The Ranger is here to serve you, so let us know how we are doing and where you would like to see us.


Originally published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011

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