Impact of Digital and Network Media on Publishing Companies

The publishing industry consists of the industry concerned with the printing material in paper form for books, newspapers and magazines and so on. The publishing industry prints materials for newspapers, magazines and books, hence the industry is an integral part to the continued existence of these sectors. Since the invention of the printing press in 1440, the publishing industry has had an impact on the most important aspects in the society. The industry has played a part in the development of the society, and it was one of the greatest inventions discovered by humans. The industry affects social, political, economic and cultural factors in the society. The education system of countries all over the world rely heavily on the publishing industry as it prints the learning materials used by students in different learning institutions. Financial institutions depend on newspapers and magazines to convey certain information to the public. They market and advertise their businesses with the help of the publishing industry. New trends in the society such as fashion and lifestyle depend on the publishing industry to reach the intended group in the society.

Before the invention and development of digital technology and media, the publishing industry had monopolized the publicity of information in the World. Digital and network media refer to the transmission of data and information on a digital network rather than the old network system. Digital and network media include the Internet, television and the radio. Digital and network media brought about competition and rivalry in an industry that had rather become complacent and monopolized by a single party. Monopolization in the society results in the provision of substandard services and goods to the public at exorbitant prices as the consumers usually lack an alternative. The publishing companies used to make millions in profits before the introduction of digital and network media in the society. Thousands of newspapers and magazines used to be sold to customers on a daily basis. Digital and network media have seen a decline in the revenue raked in by companies from the sale of newspapers, magazines and books. Digital and network media are more convenient and flexible compared to the traditional publishing industry. Digital and network media have become a threat to publishing companies, and their existence is bound to be short-lived if they are not innovative and progressive with the changes in the society. Digital media have become an inevitable obstacle to publishing companies, and it has begun dismantling the traditional and conservative publishing industry.

Businesses have found an alternative to advertising their products and services by using digital media that have a wider coverage and is cheaper compared to the old fashioned way of advertising using the printing press. The possibility of the digital media being a threat to publishing companies was not unknown to publishing companies when digital media started to gain popularity in the society in the 90s. Clearly, the strategies were not effective as the digital media rose from a potential threat to the existence of publishing companies to an incipient threat. One of the strategies was to convince the digital media companies to limit the information sharing capabilities of the software and hardware used in the digital media. This proved to be a futile strategy as currently, there is more flow of information on the digital media than there has ever been on the printing press. Another strategy was to inform the public on the concept of copyright and enlighten them on the consequences of copyright infringement. This plan was also not successful as people still use digital media more than ever, and there is rampant infringement of copyrights on the internet. People opposed being educated against what they were attracted to, as they knew the potential that digital media had on revolutionizing information sharing in the society. Today, People are aware of the strict punishment enforced by the law on persons found to have infringed the copyrights of other persons without their permission, but that does not stop them from committing a crime. Infringement of copyrights and other crimes committed with the aid of digital media is a small price to pay for the benefit and convenience associated with digital media. Informing the society on the micropayments that would be associated with the use of digital media was also one of the main strategies of blocking digital media. The micropayments were made public knowledge, but that didn’t seem to inhibit the popularity and growth of digital media as people were willing to pay for the convenient services and products offered by the digital media. Those who were incapable of paying for the services found a way to overcome the financial hurdle by illegally acquiring the products and services offered. The current domination of digital media in the world was an unforeseen scenario by the publishing companies, and they had underestimated the influence and impact the digital and network media would have on the society.

There are many advantages that have accrued from the use of digital and network media and resulted in its popularity amongst the public. Digital media have made online publishing easy, convenient and cheap, and this has resulted in increased online publications. Writers and authors can share their work online with ease and simplicity, and the public can access the content at their convenience. Consequently, there has been increased creativity as writers and authors can share and access new ideas with ease on websites and blogs. During the era of traditional publishing, it was expensive and cumbersome for an author to print his work and release it to the general public. Authors and writers, can now get a wider market coverage for their online publications. This is a good illustration of how digital media are dismantling the traditional publishing industry at an alarming rate. People no longer purchase hard copies of books and articles, and they find it more convenient to buy online publications and read them in soft copies. One of the most popular e-book online store is Amazon, where authors get to sell their online publications. Buyers can get a wide range of online publications and purchase online copies conveniently in the comfort of their homes.

Digital media are replacing print industry due to the amount of information disseminated using the digital media and the time taken to disseminate and distribute such information. In the print industry, for publication, to be made readily available for sale to the public, it will take a considerably longer period compared to the time taken to make an online publication. Logging into the internet and basic knowledge on the operation of computers are simple requirements needed for one to make an online publication. There is no major obstacle in online publications as most people are computer literate, and there has been an increase on internet access. This gives the digital media an edge over the publishing industry. The amount of information distributed is also an important factor to take into consideration. It is easier to distribute information on the internet and get a wider coverage as compared to distributing published information. Just by logging on the internet and keying in a few commands on a computer, a person can send information all over the world. Published materials need to take into consideration physical transportation costs and other expenses incurred when making deliveries. Physical delivery is also constrained by certain factors such as weather and geographical locations. Use of the internet as opposed to the print industry is more cost-effective, and this has resulted in the replacement of the print industry by the internet. People opt to share their content online rather than publishing it so as to save on cost and maximize on their profits.

The demise of newspapers and the printing industry is imminent as its model is traditional and unprogressive with the technological change. “Nothing will work. There is no general model for newspapers to replace the one the internet just broke. With the old economics destroyed…” (Shirky, 2009). In the section “Newspapers and thinking the unthinkable”, the article talks about the revolution related to the printing press. The first revolution was during the invention of the printing press where there was a change from the era of scribbling down on scrolls to the era of the print industry. The second revolution is the transition from the printing press to the new digital age. In a revolution, the old system gets destroyed and is replaced with a new system. The old system does not live through a revolution and the very suggestion that the print industry will survive this revolution is contradictory to the established concepts of a revolution. It would simply be ludicrous for one to confidently claim that the print industry will survive the revolution and comeback against the internet and the digital media as a whole.

Although the print industry is under threat and is facing possible extinction, it has however remained more resilient than anticipated. Journalism, printing has managed to derail and buy some time while digital media continues to progress and develop. Journalism, printing has managed to stay relevant in the society due to its ability to control the information disseminated to the public. Although the disclosure of full information is advocated, it is vital that sensitive information be kept discrete and released to the public in a strategic manner that will not wreak havoc in the society. The government recognizes newspapers and print journalism industry as an instrument for control of information, hence appreciates the need for the industry in the society.

Although the digital and networked media has posed a threat to the publishing industry, a relationship seems to exist between the two and the two industries appear to supplement each other. Even though the network media is developing and taking over the information industry, magazines and newspapers are still in existence, and they haven’t been completely phased out. The only thing that has changed is the reduction in the number of newspapers and magazines sold. Both the digital media and the published media have continued to coexist, and this might go on for a while.

There have been certain changes in the publishing industry, which have been evoked by the rise of the digital era. For example, bookstores are now offering their customers the choice of buying online copies thus they have somewhat integrated the digital age into the old publishing system. Verification of news source may be questionable for both the digital and the traditional publishing industry as the two are constantly competing on who will deliver the news first to the society. This has resulted in the questioning the trustworthiness of the news delivered to the public. Digital media are however more trustworthy as there is little control, and political influence of the news delivered to the society.

The publishing industry remains adamant in this challenging time for the industry. Despite the reduction in the revenue sales due to competition from the digital and network media, there is a possibility that the print industry might come back. Traditional publishing is essential in the society. With the emergence and development of the digital age, the print industry is challenged to improve on its innovation and possibly adopt some of the good aspects of the digital and network media. Although the digital media and network is dismantling the print industry, it is challenging the industry to be created for it to remain in the market and ensure its continued existence.


Balnaves, M., & Donald, S. (2009). Media theories and approaches: A global perspective. Basingstoke [England: Palgrave Macmillan.

Karpf, D. (2012). The MoveOn effect: The unexpected transformation of American political advocacy. New York: Oxford University Press.

McChesney, R. W., & Nichols, J. (2011). The death and life of American journalism: The media revolution that will begin the world again. New York: Nation Books.

Norman, J. (2005). From Gutenberg to the Internet: A Sourcebook on the history of information technology. Novato, Calif.:

Robinson, T. (2011). The evolution of news reporting. Edina, Minn: ABDO Pub. Company.

Rodman, G. (2008). Mass media in a changing world: History, industry, controversy (2nd Ed.). Boston: McGraw Hill.



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