The Dismantling Industry- Publishing

Are Digital And Networked Media Dismantling The “Publishing Industry”? Is It Being Replaced?  Are There New Difficulties And Complexities Or Expenses Involved And What’s The Future Of Publishing?

“It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves—the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public—has stopped being a problem.” (Clay Shirky) 

The publishing industry incorporates anything in relation to published for the purpose of being made public, via digital, online and print mediums.  From the printing publishing to online publishing, the occupations and roles involved with publishing have changed a lot. For example, whether a journalist, editor or layout designer works differently not like ages ago, it means the publishing industry is at a challenging era and subject to rapid changes. Publishing, refers to produce and distribute the data, literature and information, which solves the problem of making something available to the public.  Traditional printing media, such as books and newspaper, which represents a physical look to readers, aims to make something available to the public. Since new media emerges in 21st century, it creates multi media platforms for readers to experience. For instance, people have changed from passive acceptance of reading to active engaging and ask how and why.  “The incredible difficulty, complexity& expense” is no longer a problem for publishing industry (Shirky, 2009).

Traditional publishing is dismantled in many ways by digital publishing and online publishing.  Firstly, new media reach more people than traditional publishing, which doesn’t include geographical and demographic limitation. Internet, also called information Highway, provides non-commercial online open source among disparate groups and individuals, such as Wikipedia.  Open source is popular recently because it meets worldwide consensus about a democratic Internet (Guthrie, 2011,189). Secondly, there is a transitional change from print to online such as reader tablet devices (Nook& iPad) replace the physical books and newspaper. The rate of forest loss has slowed down markedly in the last decades, due to the emergence of online reading. However, the dismantling of publishing industry not means the publishing industry disappeared, but rather encouraging it to a higher level.

In order to explain how new media dismantled the traditional publishing, I will use newspaper industry as an example to show a digital revolution of newspaper. Moreover, newspaper industry as a major part of publishing industry could reveal a big picture of recent publishing industry, both specifically and widely to show that, does new media entirely replace the publishing industry?

Digital Media is Dismantling the Newspaper Industry 

The fourth estate, media acts a role of informing people and watchdog of government. And, the role of newspaper is distributing information and data to public. The characters of new media and networked media are dismantling print newspaper, which specifically represent in the area of reaching more people, effective timing and lower production costs.

Firstly, print newspaper has geographical limitation, and it can only reach local people. With difference from traditional newspaper industry, the digital media can reach more audiences without geographical and demographic limitation. For example, The Times and The New York Times has launched official newspaper website to capture the international readers. The digital media also allows people to establish own archives. The media archives here means, which constitute a network of information and data, interact with each single identity to access them later. It wields unacknowledged power to impact distribution of information, individually and collectively (Stokes, 2003). However, the traditional print newspaper cannot be easily collected for later reading. Moreover, the new media individual archives could be understood as the author of networked news and information also can dismantle the print newspaper. The print newspaper requires professional journalists to write articles and news. However, the online news virtually disseminates information, it doesn’t require any technical skill, everyone could be a citizen journalist. For society thinking, new media offers more job opportunities for inconvenient people to work at home.

Secondly, the speed of online information is faster than physical newspaper. Due to limitation of time, typically, print newspaper cannot distribute the under coming events or news. However, online news is flexible, it could distribute information anytime. Therefore, public could receive the hottest news by hand in the first place. Also, online news is more convenient for public. For instance, people have to grab a physical newspaper for purpose, but he could know anything anytime if he is reading online. Usually, people don’t have enough time to read all content of newspaper on weekdays. However, more websites of news could be taken at the same time if people read online news – it saves time.

Another important point is that online news saves money. Digital news only need to pay lower the production costs than the print newspaper. As we all know, the fixed cost of establishing a newspaper agency is higher than setup a website to disseminate news. In terms of distribution, psychical newspaper would require delivery fees. However, it’s apparent to see distributing information via Internet is free.

In terms of publications, there more kinds of publications online than traditional print publishing. The publication of print publishing could be newspaper, magazines and books. The new media released more kinds of publication based on existing publication, such as fashion blog, commercial micro blog and free-lancer article. Also, networked media could encourage more people don’t who have enough money to publish a psychical book, to publish online.

Yet, networked media is along with speed and more timing content. But it still involves some shortcomings such as protecting copyright. For instance, many websites allow social network (Facebook& Twitter) to share the link of news. But as the increasing number of sharing, the link may disappear smoothly. Also, open source will diminish the content industry, because content industry earned living from payment for the intellectual property (Guthrie, 2011,192).

When specifically looking at print newspaper industry, we can realise that networked media is dismantled print publishing industry gradually. There several benefits of networked media that print publishing industry cannot reach, such as faster speed, more readers, lower costs and more publications. That’s why the subscriber number of print newspaper is decreasing, and more people tend to read online – it saves money and time.

Is Publishing Industry Being Replaced?

According to French thinker, Bruno Latour’s Actor Network Theory (ANT), it mentioned that all relations as these come into a network of assemblage, one-element changes, and the relation will changes respectively (Stalder, 1997). For example, the political system will constantly reconfigured, because even the new relations created, the new party formed (2010). The same thing will happen with the publishing industry itself can be seen as a publishing assemblage, which means networks of publishing and distribution would be challenged by how public recognise publishing, the new technologies applied, and the published content changed.

The publishing industry is transitional, from print publishing to online publishing. For example, the print journalism, magazines and books also have a digital version. These two different formats of publishing sharing source but also compete with each other. For instance, as we all know, the content of online newspaper is different from psychical newspaper. However, networked media strengthen the quality and quantity of information distributed. The digital subscription is increasing but print subscription is decreasing.  The reason of digital media becoming more popular is the emergence of digital reader devices, such as Nook and iPad.

Publishing industry has been changed by the new technologies, and the best example is E-reader.  Apparently, the traditional concept of a ‘book’ likes magazines and periodicals, which has been changed under pressure of tablets devices (Naughton, 2010). We have to say this is a fascinating change for most people who are frequent book buyers. The E-reader encourages people to have an experience of online reading. The advent of iPad and other tablets devices could make reading easier, cheaper and more convenient. For instance, people can access online bookstore to buy the books they want instead going to physical bookstore and sometimes having to wait the unavailable books. Also, Apple Corporation invents innovative software, Voiceover, to help blind reader have a sound reading experience (2010).

The process of individually exchanging information is called aggregation and distribution. For example, the social network services like Twitter and Facebook, it make people feel live a world around them, they can get more information through them. Also, people can add personal idea and comment on these social networks to gain attention.  The aggregation and distribution are the third form of publishing in recent years. It means people could grab and give information via Internet. It actually dismantled the traditional structure of distributing information and rebuild a new structure, which more democratic, stimulated and transparent (Guillaud, 2010).  When we moved traditional media to networked media, it basically changes the way information flows.  The power of disseminating information is no longer handled by the channels of distribution, but that is handled by us. For example, government and other important institutions may control the flow of information, which produced by traditional newspaper. However, as the result of public supervision, Internet can increase the accuracy and transparency of news. Also, it can stop the bureaucracy and corruption of government. In conclude, making the news on the network would allow massive advances of publication and make matured regimes of society.

However, online publishing needs speed, but speed and depth cannot coexist. Online news distributor, in order to produce more news, they don’t verify the origins of information. In other words, it means some of the online news could be made up or fakes. In print publishing counterpart, the professional journalists more focus on the depth of the news. As the results of this, there are still some people will subscribe the newspaper for daily reading.

Here is a video about online fake news: 

WorkAtHomeTruth, 2012, “Fake News Sites using the same comments to promote different products”, YouTube, (last accessed on 4 June, 2012)

The traditional publishing industry is being dismantled, but it doesn’t mean that print publication will be entirely replaced by online publishing. It means the print publishers should adapt in the new environment and learn how to tool up (Naughton, 2010).

What’s The Difficulty Of Networked Media Recently?

The traditional subscription and advertising cannot easily to meet the costs of a newspaper agency. In recent years, many newspaper website have a ‘Paywall’ system to help the company maintain in a short run. ‘Paywall’ means online newspaper will provide free news in some sections, but if people engage with reading more valuable and accountable news, they should pay for them. The New York Times advocated this way keep business go on consistently, and recently it announced the estimated subscribers reached 250,000(Gillmor, 2011). However, ‘Paywall’ only can run in a short period. For example, the news behind ‘Paywall’ on one newspaper website may be free on others. People will compare the price and more willingly to choose a free one. The ‘Paywall’ still cannot be long run strategies. So, what’s the future of the online publishing?

The Future Of Publishing Industry

As we discussed above, digital and networked media has dismantled the traditional print publishing by many ways. As the world shifted to Web 2.0, there are multi platforms online to publish, and everyone could engage in distributing information. People never like an audience to accept news by professional journalists, but act as citizen journalists to distribute information and supervise the authenticity of news. Nevertheless, the traditional print publishing still necessarily exists, because it officially targets on government and older age demographic people. The advanced aspects of the digital and online media stimulate the traditional printing to a better and more professional level. The relationship between networked media and traditional print publishing is always interdependent and paradoxical.


Any-Space-Whatever blog, 2010, “Actor Network Rochambeau”, (on Latour) (last accessed on 4 June, 2012)

Gillmor, D., 2011, “The New York Times paywall: the faint smell of success”, The Guardian, August 3,  (last accessed on 4 June, 2012)

Guillaud, H., 2010 (on Danah Boyd) “What is implied by living in a world of flow?” , Truthout, (last accessed on 4 June, 2012)

Guthrie, R., 2011, Publishing, “The Era Of Digital Publishing”, Sage Publication Ltd: London, 1st ed, pp.189-192.

National Public Radio, 2010, “E-Book Boom Changes Book Selling And Publishing”, (last accessed on 4 June, 2012)

Naughton, J., 2010, “Publishers take note: the iPad is altering the very concept of a ‘book’, The Guardian, (last accessed on June 4, 2012)

Stalder, F., 1997, “Latour’s Actor-Network Theory”, (last accessed on 3 June, 2012)

Norris, P., 2007, Driving Democracy: Do Power-Sharing Institutions Work?, Cambridge University Press: London, 1st ed, p.203.

Shirky, C., 2009, “Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable”, (last accessed on 2 June, 2012).

Stokes, J., 2003, “Reading Notes: Archives Fever”, Ars Technica , (last accessed on 2 June, 2012)


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