ESSA X Cainz Debate: Newspapers have more economic influence than news shown through television.

October 31, 2020
Editor(s): Emily Hartley
Writer(s): Melanie Suriarachchi, Yash Shewandas, Vickram Mehtaanii


*The speakers in this article are competitive debaters, and therefore the views expressed may not necessarily represent their beliefs or the beliefs of the organisation they belong to.*

First Affirmative (Nigel Pereira)

With the average college graduate being able to read 350-450 words per minute and the average adult only being able to speak 150 words per minute, reading strictly dominates listening. Now, in an increasingly time valuable world why would any rational consumer consciously choose to watch rather than read.

Revolutionised by technology, newspaper have successfully broken into the online medium going beyond the traditional paper format to attract a global audience. This transcendence has allowed for newspapers to gain an increasingly significant influence in an online platform that extends beyond just a local district. Hence making newspapers more influential than television. At most T.V’s have locally aired channels, and even the news sources that have channels that are aired globally, the high barriers to entry make papers an alternative that is cheaper and more accessible. Further, establishing the newspaper economic dominance.

Additionally, the coverage in newspapers are unlike its counterpart aired on television. The rife understanding of news stations having to cater towards a certain political position and audience significantly reduces its target audience. Whereas although newspapers may also have political stances, its sheer abundance of articles allows it to process larger amounts of information. Every minute on television is money, the same commitment does not extend onto every written piece. Thus, the disparity of content allows newspapers to be more factually accurate appealing to the consumer who values a consistent and truthful story.

Money is power, a frequent expression that litters the Hollywood scene. Yet, this trope generalisation is based in a myriad of truth. With a significant proportion of the world being in the lower half of the champagne glass (a wealth distribution) televised news is simply not a feasible option. In light of this, we must remember that our developmental years are early in our life. Hence what news we can access would make for a more lasting and significantly more influential factor. Thus, redefining the higher level of economic influence that is held by papers. For these reasons the motion stands.

First Negative (Melanie Suriarachchi)

Convenience. A concept that many of us often opt for in our daily lives. Whether it be the choice of making a homemade meal or ordering a meal off Uber Eats, whether it be hanging out the washing after getting it out of the washing machine or putting it straight into the dryer; it is no secret that many of us settle with the most trouble-free and practical option. The same can be said for the mode of news coverage we intake every day, thus, making television broadcasting much more effective than newspapers, as it is likely the more feasible option in absorbing information in our day-to-day lives, evidenced by total minutes spent during a day using digital media being on average 403 compared to an average of 348 minutes spent with traditional media in 2019 in the in the United States (Watson, 2020).

Not only is television a more functional method of consuming information, it also tends to be a lot easier for viewers to comprehend. Television presenters understand the specific viewership that is attracted to their channels. As with any product, there are numerous channels that provide televised news and economic coverage, catering to all groups in the wider population. As such, individuals are able to personalise the type of media they consume relative to their preference.

The ability to personalise the news experience by appealing to certain biases as well as having fellow human beings present news, gives television media an edge that traditional media, such as newspapers, lack. Television presenters have the ability to almost duplicate face-to-face interaction by utilising facial expression, tone and gestures, all of which traditional media cannot implement due to the nature of the means of the media they present. As a result, due to the interpersonal experience that viewers receive when consuming information from television, they are more likely to reach for that mode of media more regularly, building para-social relationships with the presenter(s) that viewers may become reliant on as they build trust and rapport with said presenter(s).

Finally, while economics and public policy are concepts and practices that affect us as individuals and as a society, they are topics that ultimately some people do not find interesting or have no regard for, thus who chose to be illiterate in such topics. As a result, such groups of people are likely to be more reliant on the para-social relationships they have built with news presenter(s) to learn about such topics in which they are not literate in, particularly during election periods, which ultimately lead to television media having more sway when it comes to economic influence among such groups.

It is no secret that more and more people are choosing television media as their preferred news source, with it’s increased ability to create somewhat of a personalised and digestible experience between viewer and presenter especially over topics such as economic and public policy topics, television media has an advantage over newspaper with regards to reaching a larger viewership, ultimately leading to having greater influence on economic issues.

Second Affirmative (Jonas Larsen)

Convenience may very well be a factor to many opting for television rather than newspapers. But what is convenient largely depends on the individual. With small children screaming in the background, watching television may not be convenient; skimming through a news app or reading a physical newspaper on the train to work, however, may be convenient. The affirmative team would think it more convenient for most in this digital age to scroll a newspaper app. 

The opposition further argues that it’s much easier to comprehend televised news. We find this to be a misconception. While engaging with television news is a passive act of listening, a use more actively engages with content through reading. Not only does this make the material more likely to stick, and therefore influence opinions, but it allows for consumers to seek out whichever format they prefer to have their newspaper read.

Expanding on the topic of choice, consumers gravitate towards newspapers representing their views. With the plethora of choice of newspapers, users are bound to find material consistent with their own opinions. In constantly reinforcing their views, leaving consumers eager for more, newspapers exert a substantial influence in cementing opinions. 

Furthermore, as newspapers enable more in-depth analysis and discussion, the more sophisticated reader of economics may turn to these rather than the broadly superficial breaking-news perspective of the television. Through the newspaper, writers can thoroughly develop an argument, convince readers and thereby exert greater economic influence. As newspapers can complement comprehensive analysis with urgent breaking news, they cover all grounds. 

Financially it’s also worth considering that newspapers acquire revenue from both subscriptions and advertisement. This can potentially give them greater financial control than television, largely reliant on advertising alone. 

Concluding, the argument of convenience the opposition so firmly propounds can be turned against them. The abundant choice of newspapers is convenient. As consumers seek convenience and confirmation, they turn to newspapers. For these reasons the motion stands.

Second Negative (Yash Shewandas)

While it is important to acknowledge that convenience largely depends on the individual, it is inevitable to note that newspapers have a short-shelf life. They are usually discarded after 24 hours as news generally becomes outdated; hence they have little exposure and mileage in the mass market that would create long-term impact in the public eye. The delivery of news on TV is more efficient as it is able to provide live updates. Unlike newspapers, news disseminated to the public is not delayed and as such, will have a larger economic influence on certain events such as general elections, changes in government policies and any new laws and legislations.

The opposition further argues that reading is an active form of engagement. While this can be true, various studies have concluded that newspapers require more mental effort than watching the television. Users tend to enjoy control over text i.e. highlighting with chemical ink, annotating in the margins, as well as deforming the paper to suit their needs; nonetheless the process of scanning the pages means having to constantly make decisions with relatively high attention. According to Dobelli (2013), reading newspapers are not psychologically favourable as it hinders creativity and ability to think deeply. Therefore, we believe that watching television addresses the primal human need for information that alerts, diverts and connects.

It was correctly pointed out that due to the plethora of choice of newspapers, consumers can find one consistent with their views. However, this argument is also applicable to an incredible amount of news channels and is not solely a unique feature to newspapers. Consumers seek news channels which suit their way of thinking and this is amplified in two main streams: (1) conservative news channels such as Fox News and (2) progressive news channels. This is by no means different to newspapers and is compounded by the fact that news in newspapers can be distorted. Nowadays, the growing trend for journalistic objectivity requires a journalist not be on either side of an argument. Essentially, journalists should not only approach issues in an unbiased manner but also with a dispassionate and emotionless attitude. The visual impact of a newspaper can sometimes be unclear with poorly printed images that may lead to misinterpretation of a topic; however that is not the case on the television. Visually stimulating animations keep the viewer engaged and that is an aspect that newspapers cannot cover.  Hence, we believe that the television present facts in a detailed and clearer manner.

Furthermore, television news provide an unlimited source of information to consumers. Newspapers are restricted in capacity due to the limited space and potentially coverage, so are unable to explore issues in a more sophisticated manner. Television news keep us updated at a regular basis and this ties in with the fact that delivery of news on the television is a lot faster.

As a whole, the arguments proposed by the opposition are all valid; however we believe that televisions exert greater economic influence compared to newspapers mainly because of the fact that seeing is believing, the personalised experience gained between viewer and presenter and reduced biasedness. As such, consumers are inclined to lean towards televisions rather than newspapers.

Third Affirmative (Nigel Pereira)

The opposition ends their argument on a premise that states personal experience reduce bias. This premise is not only counterintuitive but an outrageous claim. If you do build a rapport of personal experience with the reporter through constant televised watching you would most likely be influenced by their news, regardless of the truth. Hence, leaving news watchers more vulnerable to the information anchors say. Whereas newspapers are unlikely to form that same connection and thus rely on accurate facts and stories to captivate their reader. Accurate information is what the public most value when making financial investments. Therefore, highlighting the superior presence of newspapers in influencing large scale economic decision making.

In addition, the opposition argues that the short shelf life of newspapers is a detriment to the influential spread of papers. However, we believe that because newspapers are portable and compact, they can exist well past their date. Often used as papier-mache projects or as wrapping in vintage bookstores, newspapers have a competitive edge as people synthesize the information without necessarily reading. The constant exposure functions as a repetitive learning technique that reinforces the articles contention. A factor that would allow for newspapers to be significantly more influential to people’s decisions.

Furthermore, claims that reading uses higher attention and hence restricts how the demographic that reads. In light of this, the affirmative believes that there is significance evidence that states higher attention causes higher concentration with has a positive correlation with retention capacity. Thus, only further justifying how the audience of newspapers appeal create influences that are not bounded by time.

Beyond this, the affirmative team believes that because televised news has multiple mediums before it is processed by the watcher it is an ineffective source of reporting. Firstly, journalist write the story which is translated and reworded for an audience of tv watchers. Hence, creating the first obscurity in the process. Additionally, what news anchors report amalgamated with the various distractions around people’s living rooms and the abundance of colours makes what is reported to be significantly less impactful than if it was in black and white and in text. The plethora of obscurities with the act of watching television has the audience not being as influenced as they are entertained. Thus, the motion stands.

Third Negative (Vickram Mehtaannii)

The opposition starts off by mentioning that news watchers are vulnerable to the information anchors present to them, which is surprising when televisions are used to better communicate the content. The same content that is in the newspapers is communicated in a much better way as anchors are able to properly express the content through their body language, tone, and facial expressions. Their passion can be observed by the news watchers, however, this is not the case for newspaper readers. Newspaper readers are not able to catch the exact tone in which the content is expressed, and at the same time there is no body language or emotions visible either, making it very likely for the newspaper readers to misinterpret the smallest of news.

Next, the opposition argues that newspapers can exist past their date, which may be true to an extent, however, sustainability wise it is not the right choice. Newspapers are not environmental friendly as trees are cut to produce the paper on which the news is printed. The ever-increasing awareness spreading regarding sustainability has made people stop purchasing newspapers just for the sake of the environment. This simply decreases the value of newspapers considering the same amount of readers are no longer purchasing newspapers. These people have switched to getting their daily dose of news through the news channels on their televisions.

Furthermore, certain news needs to reach the general public at the earliest and cannot wait until the next day to be published in the newspapers. As highlighted by the ongoing pandemic, so often the Premier of Victoria has announced on live television about restrictions being tightened or eased from midnight of the same day. Such news reaches the general public immediately through the news channels on their televisions, and people do not need to wait until the next morning to read such content in the newspapers. Therefore, this delay in the news reaching to the general public points towards higher influence being demonstrated through news shown on the television.

Lastly, the affirmative mentions the distractions present in the living room while people watch the news on their televisions, which is funny since the same distractions remain while one reads the newspaper. However, while reading content through newspapers, it is not as easy to grasp what exactly is being said as easy it is to understand the same content through visuals shown on televisions. It is a proven fact that visuals remain in the minds of people for longer and help them understand the content better through the emphasis put by these visuals than just reading black and white text. Therefore, with all things considered, this motion does not stand.

The CAINZ Digest is published by CAINZ, a student society affiliated with the Faculty of Business at the University of Melbourne. Opinions published are not necessarily those of the publishers, printers or editors. CAINZ and the University of Melbourne do not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in the publication.

Meet our authors:

Emily Hartley

Hi everyone! My name is Emily and I am a current penultimate year student studying Bachelor of Commerce with majors in Finance and Economics. As a digest writer at CAINZ, I am able to tie together my childhood passion for writing and the qualitative and quantitative aspects of finance and economics. I am excited to deliver to you a range of articles throughout my time as a writer.

Melanie Suriarachchi
Yash Shewandas

Yash is a first year Bachelor of Commerce student, intending to major in Economics and Finance. His interests include macroeconomic variables and policies, global inequality, and trade globalisation. Outside of uni, Yash loves exploring different cuisines, playing football (soccer), and is a hardcore Liverpool fan.

Vickram Mehtaanii