Amidst the screen-inundated world of the digital age where “likes” are exchanged as a form of currency in the social media realm, there lies newspapers – an antiquated relic of the once analog, tactile world. With the temptingly convenient features of the automatically populated news feed on Twitter, Facebook, and Google, the mere thought of picking up an old, grey, dusty newspaper and scanning the columns for the latest news may seem superfluous and overly tedious.
After all, due to the instant gratification tendencies of our modern world, news has become ever more perishable, making the status of a crime scene investigation published in a newspaper an ephemeral reality. Once a newspaper has composed an article, printed it, and distributed it to stores, it is highly likely that there is a more updated, accurate version of the story available on a social media platform that can be accessed simply by refreshing one’s browser.
However, the unique cultural phenomenon of the newspaper needs to be preserved. Over time, newspaper publishers have adapted to the landscape of our ever-changing digital world where news outlets must feverishly compete for the fleeting attention spans of the average reader. Instead of printing entire long-winded stories that will likely not retain the short attention span of the average reader, truncated versions of news stories intended to capture the reader’s attention based on their level of interest in the subject will then lead them to another page buried deep in the paper to continue reading the story. As a result of providing soundbites extracted from the full piece, newspapers can capture the attention of an audience who is inherently interested in the topic without adversely affecting audiences who are not interested in the topic.
In this respect, newspapers have been nimble in their ability to pivot and make decisions to still appeal to readers, thus establishing themselves as a timeless classic. The self-aware newspaper companies are acutely aware of their inability to provide the most up-to-date news at all times of the day to its readers. Paper with printed words in ink simply cannot compete with the power of social media platforms when it comes to providing the most updated version of news.
However, the analog, tactile nature of a newspaper allows a reader to enjoy the writing style of the columnists and staff writers who compose each article. On the other hand, when reading the news on an electronic device, comprehension is drastically reduced, as readers are incentivized to skim an article instead of truly absorbing its contents. For some reason, social media platforms simply cannot compete with the feeling of holding a newspaper and exploring its many layers while sipping a hot cup of black coffee. It becomes a more deliberate method of reading the news rather than scrolling incessantly through Facebook and “liking” an article when one doesn’t even understand the complexities of the topic.
So the next time you find yourself in a gas station, convenience store, or an airport retailer, retrieve a copy of a newspaper from the newsstand. Yes, you might have to reach under the mountainous stacks of People magazine and the flashy covers of Cosmopolitan, but you will be duly impressed with the fruits of this backbreaking labor.