Why Newspapers are Still Worthwhile
by Igor Ristić
As I was thinking about what my topic for this week should be, an image came back to me of my oldest cousin in Serbia and his morning routine. Every time I visit Belgrade I have noticed that he picks up the local daily newspaper on most mornings and reads it while eating breakfast.
While I certainly see people of my generation reading the newspaper here in the states, I do not see it becoming a part of their routine as much as it is for my cousin. There are many reasons for this. One of the main ones is that the young people living in America today have gotten accustomed to other media sources and many do not see the point of reading a newspaper. After all, why should they focus on yesterday’s news when they can get today’s news on the Internet?
With this week’s entry, I hope to answer that question by writing this entry for those young people who are consumers of news, but have avoided the traditional newspaper. I am as guilty of not reading the newspaper regularly as the next person, so this entry is as much for myself as it is for anyone else.
And now my suggestion, which might be seen as a radical one by those people from the younger generations who have grown accustomed to computers, cell phones, and tablets.
READ AN OLD SCHOOL NEWSPAPER!
I am suggesting that you take a moment to pick up that collection of recycled paper with black typeface all over it that is most likely sitting around the house/office/airport/etc. right now and to give it some love and attention.
EMBRACE THAT BOLD TYPEFACE!
In a world where the newspaper is losing popularity exponentially because people have started to get their news from other sources that are admittedly better at providing us more up to date information (TV, Internet,cell phones,tablets), I think there is something to be said for sitting down, having a sip of coffee or tea, and flipping through ACTUAL PAGES as you immerse yourself in a plethora of information that a group of dedicated reporters have put together for you.
I have thought of three reasons for why it is still worthwhile for you to pick up the newspaper every once in a while; increased concentration, nostalgia, and a higher quality of writing. I welcome you to include more reasons in the comment section after this post.
1. Increased Concentration
This one is fairly straight forward. When you are reading something online (such as what you are doing now), chances are very small that you are investing your complete concentration on a single item. For example, while you are reading this right now you might also be Facebook chatting with somebody in another window, be waiting for a YouTube video to load in a third window, be shopping for winter clothing in a fourth window, and be thinking of a clever new tweet that will result in all of your followers thinking you are witty and fun to be around in real life in a fifth window. While all this is going on, you might get a notification that you have just received twelve new E-Mails that need to be responded to in the next thirty minutes.
I don’t care how smart you are or how skilled you are at multi-tasking. If you get your news online in a manner similar to the one mentioned above (I am guilty of it myself), then there is no way in this world that you can fully concentrate on reading this blog or on reading in-depth news reports. This is where the old school newspaper comes in to save the day.
Newspapers do not (not yet, at least) have the ability to update you when you get those twelve E-Mails or to give you a chance to share the article you are currently reading with four hundred friends via Facebook, and they will most certainly not tempt you with a hilarious video of a baby riding a dog (you wanted that last part to be linked to a video, didn’t you?)
Instead of all these distractions, you will be able to read a good article in relative solitude when compared to how you would read it on the Internet. This way, you will learn a lot more about events that matter to you and will be less distracted by other things that you will end up doing online.
The slide show depicts newspaper boys from the ‘good old days’ when newspapers were the only mass media source for news. As you watch the pictures, remember the ‘Extra! Extra!’ shouts that you see on TV when the kids sell newspapers on the streets. If you don’t watch it, at the very least click it so that the cool music plays while you read the rest of this entry. :)
Since the beginning of the 20th century the way in which we receive our news has changed dramatically with the development of the radio, television, computer, and finally the Internet. While I wish to take nothing away from these amazing developments, the fact remains that humanity has been getting our news from paper for a far longer time than from any of the other aforementioned channels.
Denis McQuail (2010) explains that the newspaper as we know it today was not invented until the seventeenth century (about two hundred years after the invention of the printing press). However, people had been getting information from paper for thousands of years before that as well in the form of books, letters, etc. While the modern newspaper model was invented as recently as the seventeenth century, it is still significantly older than all the other mediums we are familiar with today. I think we often forget just how significant the newspaper has been to our lives and to the lives of those who came before us.
McQuail (2010) states that,
The newspaper was more of an innovation than the printed book-the invention of a new literary, social and cultural form-even if it might not have been so perceived at the time (p.28).
Chances are very good that your ancestors read newspapers on a daily basis because they were the only source for information about the world.
I think that it would be arrogant of us to assume that we have successfully re-invented a model in the last few decades which has existed in our world for the last few centuries. While it is true that newspapers will never be what they once were (unless of course the whole world loses electricity for a long, long time), I think that they will still have a place in our world for many decades to come.
So sit down at least once a week, pick up a newspaper, and join in on the habit millions of humans have participated in since the seventeenth century! The TV and computer will still be there after you read one article in the paper.
3. Higher Quality of Writing
If you choose to read a reputable and well-respected newspaper, chances are very good that you will be reading content written and edited by people who have committed their whole lives to writing and editing. These are not bloggers who decided last week that they want to be journalists (no offense indented to any fellow bloggers who are reading this), they are bona-fide reporters who actually spent years learning and perfecting their craft. Writing and seeking out information is not a hobby for them, it’s their job and their livelihood. Thus, I think chances are higher that you will be exposed to a higher quality of writing if you read an actual newspaper, as opposed to an article on a website of a television-orientated news organization.
The newspaper article you read will probably be biased in a certain way depending on which newspaper you choose to read. However, this bias exists in all media and you will not be able to avoid it no matter where your get you news from.
So I should forget about the Internet?
I am not suggesting that you stop seeking out news on the Internet or that you completely change your habits. On the contrary, I see immense value in the modern-day privilege of having access on the Internet to an infinite amount of perspectives on world events and I urge you to seek out as many different perspectives as you can handle.
One of those perspectives, however, comes from the old school newspapers that you hold in your hand. I think that reading even one article a week from a traditional paper will help you to focus more on the information you are reading, to appreciate the history of the newspaper more, and to expose yourself to writing that is guaranteed to be professional in nature (if you choose your paper well).
According to a Poynter article from last year, college students actually prefer to read a paper college newspaper over an online one because they like the convenience of it and they like to get away from all of the technology, among other reasons. If you are a college student (as many of my readers probably are), then take the next step and read a non-college newspaper as well!
You might just be surprised at how little you hate it.