The Role of Print Media in Society

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Print media have been the first form of mass communication, since the first journals after the invention of typography by Gutenberg (in 1447) and monopolized the field until the mass production of the radio in 1920s. In the next 90 years, first the television and then the Internet have claimed their own share of the media audience. Despite the technological advancements which allow us wireless access to the Internet from pocket-size devices, the special attributes of print media still render them an important source of information, as the World Association of Newspapers suggests, pointing out that one billion people in the world read a newspaper every day.

1 Educating the Public

Since the mass circulation of the first journals, illiteracy rates in developed countries have dropped massively and played a significant role in this change. It's no surprise that the rise of newspapers' circulation coincide with rising literacy rates, with the latest example being India, as the Wall Street Journal reported in March 2011. From helping with basic reading skills to providing information on political, economic, cultural and sports topics, the ever-changing contents of newspapers offer the world's knowledge on a daily basis.

2 News on the Move

Modern bustling cities are composed of busy professionals who have little time to spare and who only have time to learn the news as they commute to their job or back home. Modern technology has made it possible to connect to the Internet from a mobile device, such as a smart phone and read the news from digital sources. However, wireless connection is not available everywhere (on the underground for example), while newspapers are cheaper and a more practical way to read the news on the move.

3 Democratic Media

According to United States Resolution 59(I), adopted in 1946, "Freedom of information is a fundamental human right." Freedom of information requires all citizens of a country to be able to find information through official or independent sources, including the mass media. However, not everyone has the ability to use new age media, due to the lack of infrastructure, financial resources or the knowledge to operate them. In this case, print media act as a guarantee for the public's right to information.

4 Detailed Accounts

Despite the fast pace of modern societies, people need detailed coverage of serious topics, such as wars or natural catastrophes. Comprehensive articles are essential for the public's understanding of a delicate issue. Contrary to the radio and television, print media segments are not as severely constrained by time. In addition, Internet articles must be published as soon as an issue arises, potentially leading to inaccuracies on the initial draft, while print media are given the luxury of time.

Tasos Vossos has been a professional journalist since 2008. He has previously worked as a staff writer for "Eleftheros Tipos," a leading newspaper of Greece, and is currently a London-based sports reporter for Perform Sports Media in the United Kingdom. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication and media from the University of Athens.