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The News Is Going Digital


Not long ago, much of America got its daily news starting with the early morning “thwap” of a newspaper hitting the front stoop and the rustle of folding pages at the kitchen table. Add to that a drive-time radio broadcast and some pithy, early evening input from Tom Brokaw or Peter Jennings, and that pretty much comprised the sum total of most people’s daily news intake.

That was then. This is now.

Today, a robust, speedy Internet, easy-to- use mobile devices and the blossoming of myriad online news websites have changed how, where and when we can get our news. Today’s technology delivers 24/7 access to pretty much anything we want to know about politics, entertainment, lifestyle news and so much more.

New capabilities for delivering online, instant news are only the start of a rapidly expanding digital news universe, one including scores of well-known news organizations, but also hundreds of smaller, new sources that fill a broad spectrum of niche, news silos. More than 5,000 new, editorial, digital news jobs have been created in the past several years (Pew Research).

Digital media can be more robust in terms of how completely, immediately and intimately they can tell a story and update it, as it develops. Plus, since digital media are so versatile, online outlets constantly experiment with new storytelling and data visualization techniques that, in turn, make them more compelling (and entertaining!) for their website visitors.  

Two notes of caution: First, the editorial quality and standards of some new online outlets are not always up to par with leading print newspapers. So, in general, it’s wise to be a bit more skeptical of many online news sources. Secondly, some digital outlets try to maximize page views in order to maximize advertising revenue (advertising revenue is usually based on page views) and engage in “click-baiting”. “Click-bait” is pejorative term describing “web content aimed at generating online advertising revenue … at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines or eye-catching thumbnail pictures to attract click-throughs” (Wikipedia). It’s not always easy to spot “click bait,” but as you become more accustomed to getting your news online, you’ll develop a sharper eye for spotting hype versus substantive news offerings.

But these are small cautions. Overall, online news is expansive, diverse, continuously updated, and quickly accessed on the go. So it’s not a surprise that digital news is a sharply ascendant industry, as more of us use our laptops, tablets and Smartphones to get 24/7 news at our fingertips. That fact has not been lost on many, formerly hardcopy-only newspapers that also have “gone digital” and now boast huge, online audience numbers. For example, USA Today recently reported daily print readership of 3 million (Gfk 2015), while USA Today digital sites had nearly 81 million unique visitors (comScore December 2015). Other major print newspaper organizations report similarly large, digital audiences.

Curious to try a digital news subscription? There are free trial offers that you can explore, and AARP has obtained a particularly good one for AARP readers. As usual, there are no credit card or subscription obligations required for you to avail yourself of this AARP Freebie:

Enjoy The New York Times digital version FREE for 12 weeks

(Please note: You must first register, or be a registered subscriber of to access the offer. AARP receives no compensation for passing on these offers)

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