CAE Reading and Use of English Part 5
You are going to read an article about the future of newspapers. For questions 31-36 choose the answer (A, B, C or D) which you think fits best according to the text.
The Future of Newspapers
Anybody who says they can reliably forecast the future of newspapers is either a liar or a fool. Look at the raw figures, and newspapers seem doomed. Since 2000, the circulation of most UK national dailies has fallen by between a third and a half. The authoritative Pew Research Centre in the USA reports that newspapers are now the main source of news for only 26 percent of US citizens as against 45 percent in 2001. There is no shortage of prophets who confidently predict that the last printed newspaper will be safely buried within 15 years at most.
Yet one of the few reliable facts of history is that old media have a habit of surviving. An over-exuberant New York journalist announced in 1835 that books and theatre ‘have had their day’ and the daily newspaper would become ‘the greatest organ of social life’. Theatre duly withstood not only the newspaper, but also cinema and then television. Radio has flourished in the TV age; cinema, in turn, has held its own against videos and DVDs. Even vinyl records have made a comeback, with online sales up 745 percent since 2008.
Newspapers themselves were once new media, although it took several centuries before they became the dominant medium for news. This was not solely because producing up-to-date news for a large readership over a wide area became practicable and economic only in the mid-19th century, with the steam press, the railway and the telegraph. Equally important was the emergence of the idea that everything around us is in constant movement and we need to be updated on its condition at regular intervals – a concept quite alien in medieval times and probably also to most people in the early modern era. Now, we expect change. To our medieval ancestors, however, the only realities were the passing of the seasons, punctuated by catastrophes such as famine, flood or disease that they had no reliable means of anticipating. Life, as the writer Alain de Botton puts it, was ‘ineluctably cyclical’ and ‘the most important truths were recurring’.
Journalism as a full-time trade from which you could hope to make a living hardly existed before the 19th century. Even then, there was no obvious reason why most people needed news on a regular basis, whether daily or weekly. In some respects, regularity of newspaper publication and rigidity of format was, and remains, a burden. Online news readers can dip in and out according to how they perceive the urgency of events. Increasingly sophisticated search engines and algorithms allow us to personalise the news to our own priorities and interests. When important stories break, internet news providers can post minute-by-minute updates. Error, misconception and foolish speculation can be corrected or modified almost instantly. There are no space restrictions to prevent narrative or analysis, and documents or events cited in news stories can often be accessed in full. All this is a world away from the straitjacket of newspaper publication. Yet few if any providers seem alive to the new medium’s capacity for spreading understanding and enlightenment.
Instead, the anxiety is always to be first with the news, to maximise reader comments, to create heat, sound and fury and thus add to the sense of confusion. In the medieval world, what news there was was usually exchanged amid the babble of the marketplace or the tavern, where truth competed with rumour, mishearing and misunderstanding. In some respects, it is to that world that we seem to be returning. Newspapers have never been very good – or not as good as they ought to be – at telling us how the world works. Perhaps they now face extinction. Or perhaps, as the internet merely adds to what de Botton describes as our sense that we live in ‘an unimprovable and fundamentally chaotic universe’, they will discover that they and they alone can guide us to wisdom and understanding.
31 In the first paragraph, the writer is presenting
his interpretation of a current trend.
evidence that supports a widespread view.
his prediction on the future of print journalism.
reasons for the decline in newspaper readership.
32 What point is the writer making in the second paragraph?
Existing media are not necessarily replaced by new ones.
The best media technologies tend to be the most long-lasting.
Public enthusiasm for new types of media is often unpredictable.
It is inevitable that most media technologies will have a limited life.
34 In the third paragraph, the writer stresses the significance of
a shift in people’s attitudes towards the outside world.
certain key 19th-century advances in mechanisation.
the challenges of news distribution in the pre-industrial era.
the competition between newspapers and more established media.
35 What does the writer suggest is the main advantage of online news sites?
the flexibility of the medium
the accuracy of the reporting
the ease of access for their users
the breadth of their potential readership
36 What does the writer suggest about newspapers in the final paragraph?
They still have an important role to play.
They can no longer compete with the internet.
They will have to change to keep up with the digital age.
They will retain a level of popularity among certain types of readers.