Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The News

Times they be a changing.

A few weeks ago I cancelled my print subscription to the Toronto Star, a newspaper I had subscribed to on and off (mostly on) for the past 18 years. It was a bit of a sad moment for me but with two babies soon in need of daycare, the rising cost of newspapers, the lack of time to actually sit and read a newspaper and the myriad of free online options it was time.

Still I have fond memories of newspaper reading over the years having grown up in a household where my dad bought the Barbados Nation or the Advocate every day on his way home from his morning sea bath.

Newspapers were all around me growing up and something I liked to read. I remember grabbing the paper as soon as my dad came home in the morning and started to get ready to work, and reading the comics first then the sports pages while he was in the shower. As time went on, I moved on to the international news and then finally got into the court cases and local news. Not that the local news was boring (although it sort of was) it was also that you got the local news on radio and on the 7 o'clock TV news etc so by the time it was in the paper the day after you'd already heard most of it.

And that inability to give you news as it happens is one of the reasons print media is slowly failing. We now have the Internet and can get instantaneous news. Why wait til the next day to find out whats happening with Obama and the government shutdown in Washington when I can go to any news site and get everything up-to-date as it happens or tune into a 24-hour news channel on radio or TV and get live reports?

Many will argue that the Internet and television news is superior to reading a newspaper. It does fit more into our fast paced, jet-like existence where everything from food to service must be instantaneous, than actually god-forbid waiting for an actual physical newspaper.

Plus it saves the trees and the environment and all that... supposedly.

The newspaper chains have seen the writing on the wall and are adapting some faster than others with online offerings and now special subscription sites. Sorry guys, the Internet news may not be as free as it was previously as media houses look for ways to rightly capitalize on their hard work in putting together stories for us to read.

A so it go, progress dem a say!

Old fogey that I am though, today (Monday when I started this blog) I thought of two reasons I will miss the print newspaper and no one of them is not because I now have nothing to go hide out and read in the bathroom.

For me newspapers were more than news if that statement makes any sense.

Take for instance, today I was searching for a company I`ve done business with sporadically in the past. Couldn't for the life of me remember their exact name just what they do and one key word in their actual name. I knew in the past their ads used to be in one of the smaller local weekly newspapers which has long gone digital.  Tried googling them with what I remembered and too many options came up for me to actually figure out which one was correct. If only I had an actual physical newspaper! But I don't. So I found what appeared to be a pdf of the local weekly, only ads so no help there. Sucks a bit but luckily I found and old business card of theirs so I wasn't put out too much.

My point is even though we get pop-up ads online etc there is something about a nice 1/4 or 1/8 page ad in a physical newspaper that will grab your attention way more than some blinking or flashing ad in the corner of a computer screen.

The second reason I know I will miss the physical newspaper is that on the TV or online the smaller news stories get the shaft. Yes I will see 20 websites with a headline about the latest bombing or uprising staring at me so I wont miss the physical print for that but I will miss it for leafing through and finding tucked away in a corner on page 14 or 21, a small obituary to a minor celebrity or article about a country fair or a break-in that happened on the other end of the city that warrants only a small paragraph.

When you deal with the online news 'sites' it just seems that much more difficult to navigate to the 'smaller stories' since they all seem tucked away on pages that are hard to find. With a print newspaper since they had to fit stuff to an actual page, you tend to get the big interspersed with the small and ads to make it all fit in a hodgepodge arrangement. But it almost guaranteed that you'd at least glance at some of the smaller stories and who knows something interesting may have caught your eye

Still not crying any tears over here, just being somewhat nostalgic and I've all but adjusted and don't tell the wife but I will occasionally pick up a print copy.

I do admit we have gained by having Internet available news and 24-hr news channels but we've also lost a bit. Something about the written word on a physical piece of paper that the way newspapers are going its likely future generations may not ever know. 

Yea actually thinking about that last point, with the future generations, a bit further I know that reading the newspaper helped develop my reading (and geography somewhat). I had an interest in sports and reading the cricket reports made my reading better (as well as exposing me to placing in the world like Colombo and Wellington and New South Wales). That was the way we got our info and reading a cricket report in the newspaper was almost as exciting to me as seeing the actual game cause that's all we had back then and it was faster to get a written report sometimes that to get the video highlights from some far flung land like India or Sri Lanka. Who would have thought! Now you can watch live or recaps on sports channels or find highlights on youtube.

Oh well seasons change, mad things rearrange. Thats just how it goes


VirginiaC said...

I read and re-read this post with interest....every word so true.
I grew up having newspapers in our house, which sometimes my mum would encourage me to read to her if she was busy preparing a meal in the kitchen. I believe it helped in my having a good grasp of the English language.
I haven't bought a newspaper in eons.
May I make a suggestion? You may take your tablet or phone into the toilet with you for your reading pleasure...not exactly the same but it may fulfil that need you are missing.

Guyana-Gyal said...

We still have newspapers here. I don't know how they're faring these days, but a lot of people don't have access to the Internet.

I think that in the future-future, someone's going to make paper "hip" again, you know how everything goes in cycles. though I don't know how long it will last.

Guyana-Gyal said...

We still have newspapers here. I don't know how they're faring these days, but a lot of people don't have access to the Internet.

I think that in the future-future, someone's going to make paper "hip" again, you know how everything goes in cycles. though I don't know how long it will last.