My Take

A dinosaur in awe of the new media wave

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 July, 2015, 12:23am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 July, 2015, 12:23am

Last week was a scary time for a print news dinosaur like me.

First the half-century-old Hong Kong Daily News shut down for good, leaving dozens of my colleagues jobless. Then Sing Pao Daily, the city's oldest Chinese-language newspaper, temporarily suspended publication after its bank accounts were frozen by a provisional liquidator, though the latter denied having ordered the banks to do so.

Then came the announcement from Next Media that it may stop publishing the print edition of its flagship Next magazine from September, leaving it with only an internet presence. People have long talked about the demise of traditional print media. In places like the US, it is well at an advanced stage. Many of us in the media business used to think there was still time even if it was inevitable. We didn't know it would come so soon. Thanks to smartphones with their bigger and bigger screens and processing power, a massive amount of news and information is now available on demand - and mostly for free.

But if you are still old-fashioned like me and prefer the feel of the printed news pages on the fingertip, there are now almost as many free dailies, in both Chinese and English, as paid newspapers. News has become instantaneous with the 24/7 news cycle while printed newspapers still deliver only yesterday's news.

I am simply in awe of my younger colleagues. Print news traditionalists like me only have to worry about one deadline per article, and we usually have several hours to write it. Young reporters now have to tweet the headline almost the minute they arrive at a news scene. After collecting all the relevant quotes and information, they may have to deliver a live podcast and quickly produce a written copy for the website while continually updating throughout the day if the story is ongoing. Some of them also run news blogs, which they constantly update.

It's only after they have done all that that they can sit down in the office and write the full copy for the next day's newspaper.

I mean wow! If I had to do all that now, I would probably die from a heart attack in no time. Old-timers like me comfort ourselves that while the young ones have speed, we still provide depth and context. Perhaps, but there is no avoiding the inevitable extinction.