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The Message is the Medium

February 8, 2010

Marshall McLuhan has said that the medium is the message, but according to Tim Harrower, the author of Inside Reporting, the story determines the medium. While the changing news industry, the names of legendary reporters, the names of newspaper departments are common knowledge, I did not know that not every news story fits every medium.

When writing for local readers, a national story may only be appropriate for the online paper. At times only a daily newspaper will cover a recent event if its immediacy is the driving factor that makes it news worthy. A university’s newspaper and the university’s city’s newspaper will probably not cover the same stories even though proximity is the same. Therefore, the story influences the audience and the readership.

The story’s subject influences which medium or mediums publish the story. It is assumed that mostly affluent, educated, and relatively young readers use the Internet as their news source, so stories that appeal to those demographics will be published online. Still, readers belong to more than one audience categories. College students will be interested in campus news, news– especially crimes– occurring in the surrounding area, professional sports, and news from their hometown.   Therefore, it may be also safe to assume that individuals do not receive news from only one medium.  In turn, the rise of the Internet may not signify the death of newspapers.

Tim Harrower’s theory supports that as long as stories appeal to a demographic of people unfamiliar with the Internet or without access to the Internet, the existence of newspapers is guaranteed.

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