Print Papers Prone to Passage


If you’re a member of the Fordham community at the Lincoln Center or Rose Hill campuses, you may be lucky enough to be reading these words in print. We can assure you that we find this quite gratifying, since we pride ourselves on our attention to our paper’s layout and distribution across both campuses. However, it’s more likely that you’re reading this online, on our website, in one of our frequent social media postings or in our weekly briefing

How likely? The American Press Institute suggests that if you’re between the ages of 18 and 49, you’re nearly equally as likely to be a digital subscriber as you are a physical one. When you consider that The Fordham Ram’s print edition is pretty geographically contained, we end up with around 90% of our readership coming from visits to our website.

As a result, the importance of our internet presence isn’t lost on us. The reality of the direction that not just us, but every newspaper, is likely to be taking in the future has been weighing heavily in our minds.

Simply put, the print newspaper industry is in trouble. Online communication is so instant and casts such a wide net, it’s difficult, in many ways, to justify paying for a print paper when all of the world’s information is at your fingertips. Local papers all over America are either struggling to survive or disappearing, and revenue continues to decline for the survivors. According to the Pew Research Center’s “Newspaper Fact Sheet,” print circulation declined around 15% in 2020, while digital circulation increased around 25%. Subscriptions to online papers are steadily increasing, as is the percentage of digital revenue versus that of physical revenue. People want their news, people want a lot of it and people want it fast. 

One problem that the newspaper industry is having, despite the fact that a higher percentage of revenue comes from digital publication, is that online newspapership simply doesn’t bring in the same amount of revenue as print ads once used to. However, this isn’t necessarily a problem for The Fordham Ram. We have no stock, no shareholders and no benevolent sponsors outside of Fordham University. As important as advertising in print is to us, it doesn’t put food on anyone’s table, and the money saved from phasing out printing would likely outweigh any advertising in print.

It is beneficial in many ways for a newspaper to go fully online, and we can’t pretend that’s not the direction the industry is planning to take.

We know, we know, everyone heard the same spiel about paper media going extinct when e-readers first started gaining traction. And considering the print book seems here to stay, how threatened could newspapers be? 

The problem with that statement is that print books have two advantages over newspapers when it comes to keeping their relevance: sentimentality and length. Sentimentality is easy enough to grasp. There’s a certain nostalgia and elegance associated with paper books that simply isn’t there for newspapers. Everyone goes on about the unique scent of old books and the inherent joys of going to a bookstore, but very few wax romantic about the yellowed hue of last week’s paper. A man who collects paper books has a library; a man who collects old newspapers has — more often than not — a hoarding problem.

Let’s face it, when The New York Times has a crossword and Wordle online, there’s little incentive to tuck a newspaper into your tote bag.

With all this in mind, what is it that keeps us at the Ram from going fully online?

A love of the craft, mostly. The knowledge that some people still do prefer to read a printed paper, and that our publication can still reach them. How fun it can be to just flip through a paper students worked to create, and the feeling of reading an article you wouldn’t have clicked on, just because it caught your eye as you were skimming. Above all, the service we provide is to the proud parents of Fordham students who contribute to the paper, parents that surely proudly hang every printed article their angel brings home on the fridge.

Still, there’s a not-insignificant chance that The Fordham Ram may soon become a largely digital publication sometime in the future. If you’re reading this on print, though, don’t despair, it’s not going to be any time soon.

We hope it’s not too soon, anyway. As much as we’d like to get the Ram out to as many people as we can, we the editorial board, clearly have mixed feelings about the thought of deprioritizing our beloved printed paper.