Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Who needs Newspapers?

A few months ago a group of children came to my door selling newspaper subscriptions. At the time I didn't subscribe to any newspapers, and I still don't. The era of the newspaper is coming to an end.

The presence of online news feeds, local and global bloggers, and other web 2.0 technologies provides me with more up-to-date news than any printed paper could hope to accomplish. Furthermore, I can see so many varying points of view for any given event that I can form a more balanced view of the news.

Take the recent story about Farc Protests for example. In this piece they say that the original protest started from Facebook:

"The protest was started less than a month ago on the social networking website Facebook by a 33-year-old engineer, Oscar Morales, from his home in Barranquilla on Colombia's Caribbean coast.

Over 250,000 Facebook users signed on, and the movement was taken up by newspapers and radio and television stations across the country. "

And if you had any doubt about the veracity of the story, or wanted to see if it had an spin on it, you could just check Google News with the right query words. Then you would have noticed that many nations in addition to Colombia were protesting against FARC and that the protest did spring from FaceBook.

Simply put, why would I want to subscribe to a newspaper nowadays?


A. Carback said...

I think that is a very good question. I have not read a physical newspaper in a while.

It is a nostalgic and tactile experience to hold paper, write on paper, and read off of paper.

I think newspapers will have to go digital in the future. However, as long as there are still people are who grew up with reading newspapers, then there will still be at least a few physical newspapers.

Kishor said...

I agree with you on this. One concern though is what you read is not private anymore (For some of us, it may not be a real concern).

Also, when you start following hyperlinks on e news paper, you may get carried away and forget that your original intention was to cover the news. What you end up doing instead is get information about only a few articles at great depth.

scritic said...

That's a good question. I'm going to try and give you my point of view.

I don't actually subscribe to a daily newspaper but my reasons are slightly different from yours. I have a pre-conception that when you subscribe to a paper (or a magazine, for that matter), you have to read it cover to cover. That was the way we did it back when we did take the daily paper (upto 2000, I guess). But back then all I read was the daily newspaper, and a couple of magazines that I also subscribed to. Now, I still subscribe to three magazines but I have a huge list of news feeds and blogs that I try and catch up on daily. The online feeds, like you say, are more up-to-date than the daily newspaper could ever be. Something had to give - so I ditched the daily paper.

That said, I still miss the satisfaction it gave me to read the news from cover to cover every day. Skimming the news feeds and blogs like mad (and skimming is all you can do with news feeds, unless you want to only read news feeds all day) gets me to many other different things that I would have never learned about ordinarily - but it never satisfies me.

Which is why I still keep my paper subscriptions to a few magazines. The web, it seems to me, still hasn't found the right way to present long-form essays -- and for that I still go to the biweeklies and the monthlies (paper, of course).

Andrew said...

Well, I see two issues that keep traditional newspapers alive. One is that as a medium for reading, a traditional computer screen is pretty hard on the eyes, which lends the reader to skim articles or read short stories over long editorial commentaries. Whenever i go to the new york times and theres a 10 page article, I either print it or skip it. However, when you look at the e-paper developments, as the Amazon Kindle uses, you start to see how tech can eliminate that divide.

The other issue comes from quality of writing. With traditional news outlets, you get a lot better reporting based on the wire services reports, you get people with journalism and english degrees, its typically just a higher quality of product.

For me, reading the newspaper has just become an antiquated form because whenever I look at a paper, a front page story is something I read at 10 AM the day before. I've read up on all my local news through newsvine the day before as well, and I've even gotten a greater wealth of knowledge through that site. I think the best mediation would be if you could just pay a lot of the editors to start blogging as a full time job, and leave the hard news to the myriad of providers already out there (BBC, CNN, Reuters, etc.)