Forget the trees: We should save the newspapers

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There are many ways to save the forests, but not so many to save print media

Hunter Johnson, Commentary Editor

Hundreds of newspaper stands sit unused, albeit temporarily in this particular case. However, it may not be long before these stands are actually gone for good. –Photo courtesy of Newspaper Death Watch
Hundreds of newspaper stands sit unused, albeit temporarily in this particular case. However, it may not be long before these stands are actually gone for good.
–Photo courtesy of Newspaper Death Watch

It came like a wrecking ball, breaking down walls and smashing old social norms. I’m not talking about what Miley Cyrus has done to the music industry, but about what the digital explosion has done to the world of newspapers and print media in general.

It’s a sad trend that has been emerging over the last couple of decades and in recent years has started to really take off. With the advancement of technology, print media is falling out of style.

When you wake up each day, you can turn the television to FOX or CNN to see what’s happening in the world. Curious about local or state news? Just pull up a local news outlet’s website. Too busy or lazy to do either of those? Open up a news app on your smartphone while you’re walking or lounging about.

Don’t get me wrong – all of these options are ways to keep up with current events. They’re simple, fast and ideal for people on the move. But what about newspapers and magazines? Are they really obsolete?

Evidently, a lot of people think so. Hundreds of newspapers across the country and around the world are dropping print and going strictly digital – if they are surviving at all. In order to save money, Newsweek, a news magazine that was first published in 1933, issued its final print edition last year.

Money seems to be the main culprit behind the vanishings. Print media is seeing a vast percentage of its customers cancel their subscriptions in favor of digital sources. Thus, for some of these newspapers and magazines, the costs of printing outweigh the benefits. For the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which prints The University News, this has evidently become the case. By February, it will shut down its printers and start using those of The Dallas Morning News, and we will have to find a new printer.

Numerous newspapers like the Fort Worth Star-Telegram are shutting down newspaper printers like these. More often than not, it is because the cost of printing outweighs the profit of selling papers. –Photo courtesy of Newspaper Death Watch
Numerous newspapers like the Fort Worth Star-Telegram are shutting down newspaper printers like these. More often than not, it is because the cost of printing outweighs the profit of selling papers.
–Photo courtesy of Newspaper Death Watch

Who knows – before long, our own student newspaper might become an exclusively digital news source in order to save the school money that could go to more vital projects. Like a grotto.

The transition of news from traditional print to the digital realm is tragic. While it is arguable that in today’s world acquiring news from digital sources is simply more practical than carrying a physical newspaper around, is a newspaper or magazine really such a heavy burden to bear?

As a culture that (still) values our past while looking to our future, we shouldn’t be so ready to throw our papers into the trash bin of dead trends. They’ve been around for hundreds of years, spreading information across the globe when there were no other effective ways of doing so. They’ve been the catalysts for uprisings, celebrations and tributes. When people think back to some of the most important events of the last few centuries, one of the first things they remember is the way in which that event was portrayed in the paper.

Since it showcases some of humanity’s most important events, print media is an art. Indeed, newspapers have a certain kind of beauty, in their own informative, print-y, nerdy way. I say that with no bias, either; I’ve felt that way long before I ever started doing layout for a paper. There’s just something about seeing the reports of the day fitted neatly into a few sheets that is truly admirable.

What’s more, reading the darn thing is something you can’t experience in any other way – and I mean that with all seriousness. Newspapers (and magazines to some extent) have to be truly appreciated in order to be used to their fullest. You have to sit down somewhere, preferably a quiet place, and peruse its pages with some patience. If you like coffee, here’s your chance to savor it. If you’re a smoker, this is the time to light up (not over the pages, please). In short, reading the newspaper allows you to take a breather while productively using your time. Can a UDer think of anything better?

If we allow newspapers and magazines to fade into oblivion, we will have lost something valuable. Sure, the trees may appreciate it, but will we? As the newspapers go, so does the time when people didn’t just grab a quick headline or sound bite but actually took the time to concentrate on and understand what was going on in their town or in their world. There go the discussions of current events with your fellow students or coworkers during which someone inevitably points at a story and spills coffee on it. There go the crossword puzzles!

If print media dies out, it’ll be more than the passing of newspapers – it’ll be the passing of an era.

 

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