Print journalism has been fighting a difficult battle over the last century, facing waves of change in the wake of radio news, television, news, and now the use of the internet as a platform for information. It has rode through the storm with varying waves of success, but the recent gutting of the Daily News print media staff has sent shockwaves through the newspaper community worldwide.
The Daily News was founded in 1919 and has occupied a unique place in the hearts of New Yorkers and a growing international audience. At its peek, the paper sold 2.4 million copies a day. Five years ago, the paper was selling 346,000 copies, a pale remnant of its former self.
The Daily News, like most papers today, was bleeding money. It is estimated by the Alliance for Audited Media that the Daily News was losing between $20 and $30 million a year. Mortimer B. Zuckerman, the owner of the Daily News, has been attempting to sell the paper as it was for years, but recently took it off the market. Now it is apparent why.
The paper fired dozens of reporters and editors with so little warning that one reporter returned to his desk to find a new intern had taken his place. The features, sports, and business sections were hardest hit, all cut in favor of a restructuring that will see the Daily News largely transformed into a digital medium.
While most papers have already made transitions into digital formats, they have continued to maintain their print newspapers as the primary focus. This full transition for the Daily News, a longstanding pillar of the print media community, could have massive repercussions across the industry.
Some newspapermen see Zuckerman’s restructuring as a betrayal of the mission of newspapers to provide hard hitting journalism, believing the online format will water down the content. It remains to be seen whether the change will prove profitable for the Daily News and if other papers will follow suit.