Our local newspaper, the Carleton Place Canadian, has been around since 1876, but as of this week, we’ll be seeing a difference. The paper will now be delivered to each home in Carleton Place absolutely free, and bundled as part of another community paper. Until now, you could get your copy each Tuesday at pretty much any store in town for $1.00 which was a pretty good deal. However, the paper seemed to be getting smaller and smaller, without a whole lot of anything important. I think people read it mainly for the OPP news and to see who had died that week. Will it be any different now with a new format? Probably not, but we’ll have to wait and see.
So does anyone really read newspapers anymore? Is the format of several sections devoted to different topics in a large spreadsheet really applicable in our world today? We live in such a time that we demand news to be current, simple and in a comfortable format. Newspapers are large, not very visually appealing for the most part and really not “News”. They should be called “Olds”. In this day and age when you can pop online at any time and see fresh news from all over the planet, things that are happening right at that second in full colour, often with audio and video and without the hassle of having to purchase anything or recycle it when you are finished, why are newspapers even being published anymore?
I went to an interesting session last week at the OLA Superconference by writer Stephen Marche called “A Thousand Words About Our Culture”. Marche is a celebrated pop culture columnist for Esquire Magazine as well as for many other publications. He talked about the fact that although he writes for newspapers, he doesn’t subscribe to them at all. He gets all of his information online, not even owning a television (which may be extreme to many people, but it might be the future). He does, however, love magazines, mainly for their smaller format and great articles. Magazines are a different breed than newspapers though, aren’t they? They aren’t really reporting news, but rather commenting on the state of the world in essay form.
Marche was mainly discussing the role of books in the future of our society and he believes that books will be around for long the run, as they are a tactile experience, one which we miss when we read online. It is fine to get instant, short information online, but when you want to read something more substantial, it is nice to have something in your hands. So then why would the newspaper die out? Isn’t it a tactile experience? (Yes, but one which many of us who despise the black newsprint on our fingers would rather do without.) Maybe so, but I think the content of newspapers is what will eventually kill them off. Older generations will probably be reluctant (and maybe unable) to get their news online, so until that generation is completely gone, you’ll probably still see newspapers on the racks. Or maybe the whole turn towards a greener way of living will destroy them. Either way, I believe they are dinosaurs and should become extinct as soon as possible to save some trees for future generations.
What do you think about newspapers?