Monday, February 10, 2014

[361] MTSU mass communication dean optimistic on newspapers

NASHVILLE — The dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication told Tennessee’s newspaper editors and publishers Friday that the idea that the newspaper business is dying is a myth.

Ken Paulson, the keynote speaker for the closing session of the Tennessee Press Association’s Winter Conference and Press Institute, cautioned that newspapers must shift in a new direction as younger generations turn to social media and digital devices to get news.

The bright spot, he said, is the increase in popularity for tablet devices, which play to the presentation skills and content strengths of newspapers.

Paulson cited 2012 data from the Online Publishers Association that said 71.4 million people are using tablets — more than half from families making $50,000 or more a year and using news apps.

“I have been on panels stretching back as far as 1995 on the death of newspapers,” Paulson said. “It’s the same question you guys get asked all the time: ‘When are newspapers going to die?’

“With the advent of the tablet, for the first time, I’m saying ‘Never.’ At last, we have a medium that is a logical evolution from newsprint.”

Paulson told the association that the traditional strengths of newspapers — “professionalism, readability, depth, accuracy and watchdog journalism” — remain its strengths today.

“Politicians come and go, residents move in and out. But the newspaper has been there forever, with a commitment over several lifetimes of residents,” said Paulson, who also is president of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center in Nashville.

“Our streets and streams are cleaner, our governments more honest, our citizens more equal and our courts more just, in part because of the work of generations of journalists and publishers who have never lost sight of the core mission of a free press,” he said.

“As we move ahead in new and innovative ways, we must not lose sight of our oldest values.”

For more information about MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, which was recently listed in the nation’s top 20 programs by TV Week’s NewsPro magazine, visit

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