Wednesday, May 20, 2009...4:39 pm

Will people without web access be denied news?

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From the Twitterfeed:

#media140 question from audience: if journalism goes online what happens to needs of those citizens who not got web?

It’s an interesting (if slightly garbled) question, especially given yesterday’s story about people without web access being denied cheap rail fares. It seems around 25% of UK citizens don’t have web access at home, a figure that’s skewed to, broadly, the poor and the elderly. 
So – is it a real problem if the trend is for journalism to move online? 
I’d say no, actually. 
Bear in mind that we’re talking about the switch from printed journalism to online. And let’s face it, buying a newspaper is a minority interest. So much so that the French government has given French teenagers a free newspaper subscription in a (probably futile) bid to stop the decline of the industry. 
But even middle aged and older people don’t always buy a newspaper – or even pick up one of the freebies on offer in UK cities. 
Sure, the internet is gaining ground – especially when you look at the young and more tech-savvy. But does that mean those without web access are disenfranchised? 
Assuming they want to, it’s pretty obvious they can get all the media news they need from TV and radio. In fact, that’s where most people in the US, at least, get their news even now, according to a Pew Research Center survey
The whole question is based on a false notion – that the printed news media are more important in people’s lives than is really the case. 
Let’s face facts – newspapers are a niche industry, and they’re getting more marginal. They’re not unimportant. But they’re not the centre of the universe either. 
It’s a harder lesson for journalists to accept than for the public at large, I think…

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