The touch, the feel of newspaper

A few years after graduating college, as newspapers were coming to grips with having an online presence, and I found myself as a newspaper reporter wondering about the future of print journalism, a copy editor friend of mine said she will never stop reading newspapers in their paper form.

newspaper

Is print media going the way of the dodo bird?

She loved the feel of holding the paper in her hands, flipping through its big, broad pages and getting newsprint smudged on her fingertips. It truly was a tactile experience for her.

She has since left journalism and is living abroad. And other than being Facebook friends, we have lost touch. I wonder if she still holds true to those statements. Because, even as I agreed with her that evening sitting on the steps to her apartment in Southern California, it has been a long time since I held a newspaper in my own hands.

Indeed, while I have not given up my hearty news diet, I consume my news through online sources on my laptop and on my smartphone (sorry, no iPad yet). Until we moved to Ohio, I subscribed to the Des Moines Register’s Sunday edition, which landed on our doorstep and was generally ignored for at least a day. I found the process of unwrapping the paper, shuffling through the mounds of advertisements and trying to find a few stories that captured my interest tedious.

So when we moved to Ohio this summer, I decided not to subscribe to the local Toledo Blade. It wasn’t has tough a decision as I thought it would have been—to actively stop receiving a print edition of the local news. I had acquired a taste for news from various sources around the web: The New York Times online, which recently started charging for online subscriptions; SFGate.com, the San Francisco Chronicle’s online site, Democracy Now! and the Huffington Post. Since Occupy Wall Street surfaced, however, I’ve been getting a lot of my news from a lot of sites I am pointed to through my Twitter stream.

Now, it seems my news digestion model has shifted from what the newspapers put in front of me to the stories from across the world those who share my interest place in front of me. In a sense, I am the new editorial director–the editor in chief of my personal news stream.

This is not a new concept, by any means. Individual tailoring to a person’s news interest has been going on for years. In college, I even wrote a paper about the variety of the British media’s ability to cater to certain niches, which at the time, American newspapers did not do. For me, the shift has been gradual but rewarding. I don’t miss holding a paper, folding it over to get at the story, flipping pages to get to the jump buried on A23. I don’t miss getting newsprint on my fingers.

While paper seems to be falling by the wayside–hopefully saving a few trees in the process–I hope the practice of journalism will stand strong. With shrinking editorial staffs and a move toward more entertainment-driven news, I do hope that even though we’re not holding the newspaper in our hands anymore, honest, independent journalism is still something to uphold as we strive for democracy.

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9 Comments

  1. definitely food for thought, my husband still gets a newspaper every day and reads every single word at lunchtime, at work, then he does the crossword when he gets home. I have lost my taste for news in any form, it seldom actually informs me. And I do not care to be entertained by misery and misinterpretation. It seems there is always an agenda or a political, either them or us, blatant bias that sours the stories. There is no law in america that says journalists must write the truth, this went out in Nixon’s time I believe. Makes it hard to know who to take seriously.. c

    Reply
    • I am impressed by your husband’s dedication to the newspaper. I don’t have the patience for it any more. Do you mostly get your news from blogs and social media?

      Reply
  2. Actually it may have been in Reagan’s time, i need to look that up.

    Reply
  3. Sandrala

     /  November 30, 2011

    first – a hack – when you get the annoying “you have gone over your 20 free articles this month” message from the NYT. Go to settings and delete recent cookies then enjoy free access again. Unethical? Hmmmm?

    Reply
  4. Sandrala

     /  November 30, 2011

    We are living in a home with folks of an older generation. The delivered local newspaper is central to this household. One family member cannot go to bed if she has not gone through every bit of the newspaper that day. The sudoku puzzle must be completed. The comics must be read upon waking. This and NPR are the major sources of news for this household. If there were no more local paper, I wonder if they would try to have a national delivered or if they would rely upon NPR. Various news tidbits are shared nearly daily and discussed. I do often wonder why they don’t at least get the Sunday New York Times to feed their news hunger even more, but also to supplement what the San Diego Union Tribune and NPR cannot offer. That would come with a cost I suppose – less time pursuing other interests.

    I do wonder what would happen if this older generation nationwide lost the delivery of local papers. What would the world look like for them and also for the local governmental institutions whose actions are no longer under the watchful eye of these citizen readers?

    Mostly – I think Sudoku is an addictive time suck for some people. I don’t see the value in it , but others do http://mije.org/bobbibowman/sudoku .

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  5. Here’s my first blog post from a year ago that addresses your concern about the dwindling life of newspapers: tucsonwritereditor.com/2010/08/14/citizen-journalism/

    In my view we’ve become more polarized because we listen to talk shows and read blogs that confirm — and not challenge — what we think is true.

    Reply
  6. I recently had a conversation with thedarkest13 about a similar issue. (http://thedarkest13.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/warped-social-media/). It’s my opinion that social networking via twitter, facebook, wordpress et al is becoming our fast paced source for news. I usually get my inspiration or ideas for blogs through Facebook or twitter when I strike up a debate with someone, or when the news feeds from Occupy Seattle show me something interesting.
    I liked what you said about being your own editor. In a way, our internet connections and all the associated profiles that we have with them are our own “newspapers.”
    My folks still read from the daily papers, which is fine, but I’m beginning to find them tedious as well. Why pay money for a slow moving, messy, and unwieldy bunch of papers when you can have the news at your fingertips in seconds? – not to mention at a better price.
    It is a bit sad to say that in the years to come, my dad sitting at the breakfast table with a newspaper and fresh mug of coffee will be of a dying breed, but it’s true. People will have to live with that. Of course, not everyone will be able to afford a computer (or other high tech gadget), so maybe there is some space for the printing press. One of the most fun jobs I ever had was working at a press.
    Another interesting topic regarding journalists themselves is the availability of tablets. I had to disagree with one blogger who felt that iPads and the like are a necessity for the new age journalist. (I forget his name because I believe he deleted my comment and took me off his page.) Those types of devices are expensive. Good writers will not always be able to afford those things. If that becomes a reality, does that make the journalism field exclusive to the technologically or financially underprivileged? I hope not.
    I know this comment is long, but I hope you get a chance to reply!

    Reply
  7. Thanks for your comment. Good point in the digital divide aspect of access to news and creation of news. It is a necessary thing to think about.
    It’s an interesting topic too, thinking about citizen journalism and being able to document what’s in front of you. Especially with the latest ruling about the blogger who is being fined for not revealing a source because the protections of journalists don’t extend to her.

    Reply

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