Newspaper rant

When newspaper executives get together, we usually wring our hands and bemoan the changing role of print media. We have a passion for what we produce and we know there is a segment of the population that values what we produce. But, unfortunately, that segment is aging. I just lost a 101 year old subscriber and, during renewal time, I often get little notes telling me their age — 67, 76, 89 — scrawled next to the senior discount box. No one ever tells me they’re 23.

As executives we recognize modern technology. No, most of us have seen technology advance first hand at a faster pace than ever before … from manual typewriters to linotypes to electronic editing to pagination … from bulky cameras with bright flashes to development baths to digital cameras to smart phones … from lead cast to aluminum to direct to press plates. All in less than a generation.

But I think the Internet caught a lot of us off guard. And with the advent of smart phones, tablets and other technological advances, HOW and WHEN people get their news has changed, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

I think the industry will eventually figure it out, figure out how to use modern technology to its advantage. Right now a lot of us are hanging on to the “old days”, just giving up or jumping on the technological bandwagon without proper preparation. As they say, timing is everything.

Personally, I think it will be a blend of old and new technology. There is no doubt the print industry cannot compete with the immediacy of the electronic media. It physically takes time — minutes, hours — to report, write and produce. Even television needs physical time — albeit a lot less — to get on scene, figure out what is happening and start reporting. But someone with a smart phone can upload images or texts NOW, as it happens.

And that’s the difference, and quite frankly what executives in my field have to wrestle with … getting information out quickly and updating it as more facts becomes available. Newspapers like to deal with that pesky thing called facts. I’ve seen stories held because the facts didn’t quite make sense.

Right now, at least, you can’t trust the veracity of most Internet posts {I’m thinking about one of the latest State Farm commercials}. There are no editors. There are no filters. And, sometimes you end up with a “French model” for a date.

I follow a lot of media websites and it drives me crazy when they tease you with a breaking event, then either post inaccurate information (without removing it) or forget about updates for hours on end. It infuriates me when scrolls on television include misspelled words or acronyms/abbreviations that just don’t make sense … endlessly. We all make mistakes {I’ve made my share} but wouldn’t you think a major television network would proof read the scroll once in awhile and actually change a misspelled word after the first or second scroll cycle?

And we won’t even talk about organizational websites with obsolete information.

But back to newspapers. There is also that tangible piece of newsprint that I don’t personally think will ever be fully replaced. While I certainly can see modern technology covering major national, regional and even local events, I don’t see it able to cover the third grade’s latest project, the latest community theater play, the accomplishments of a native son or daughter or Aunt Millie’s obituary. Those stories are cut out and placed in scrapbooks or the family Bible. And there’s something nostalgic and heart-warming when you come across a yellowed clipping years later.

I suppose that information could be printed from other electronic sources, but do we? How many pictures are stored on your computer?

BCsYK-_CYAAI7vT.jpg largeI thought about all this, ironically, because of a Facebook post from my daughter showing my grandson reading a newspaper {alas, it wasn’t mine, but it was a newspaper}. Her twitter caption was “This just cracks me up. He chose to read a newspaper instead of a kids book.”

Now, if we can only get his brothers, cousins, parents and his friends, their cousins and their parents to read a newspaper.

Maybe there is hope for this generation.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: You have to guard your mind. Latch on to the Voice of Victory, the good and faith-filled thoughts. Switch off from the Worry Channel or Defeat Channel or Who Hurt Me Channel or I Come from the Wrong Family Channel or the Gloom and Despair Channel and let those negative thoughts bounce off you like water off a duck’s back.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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6 Responses to Newspaper rant

  1. TamrahJo says:

    Their are so many industries and personal traditions that are being threatened by the growing digital world and shrinking paper one – – No easy answers, and no way to know if the transition we are embarking on will be one we celebrate or bemoan 100 years from now – –

    If all computers and the internet disappeared tomorrow – I’d be toast as far as the actual number of reference books and how-to books I have on hand…I quit purchasing updated copies because so much of what I needed can be readily accessed via the internet – if that system ever crashes or becomes heavily censored – I, for one, will not be prepared to deal with that loss of access to information.

    So many of my friends are writers who are struggling because the online world allows amateurs to write a sloppy, typo filled 400 word piece of poo and get paid their $2.39, while those who have lovingly mastered their craft over the past 40 years take manual labor jobs, because they refuse to write that kind of mess, but can’t make a living if they write the way they want AND beat their competitors price – – –

    As with so many transitions in the past, industries and workers must evolve to keep up in a changing world, but durn – it sure isn’t fun while it’s happening….


  2. Maryanne says:

    I wrote for many newspapers in my adult career, and have been at The Montclair Times in New Jersey the longest of all, from 2001 to 2008. Sometimes we’d have a demographic staff meeting and would try to upgrade the paper to appeal to a younger audience because like you said only the older people were reading. I used to write a “Looking Backward” column and would go to the library once a week and research our old newspapers from 100 years ago. It saddens me that newspapers may someday be extinct.

    I’ve been reading newspapers since I was 10-years-old (I am now 49, to give you a sense of timeline here), starting with Dear Abby in the local Paterson News and Herald News. There is just something so special about holding a newspaper in your hand. And now, approaching senior-hood, it’s a lot easier on the eyes than reading a computer screen.

    I also love to take a newspaper to bed with me, when I am sick. Or even read on a beach. Yes, people can do this with an iPhone, but it’s not the same.

    And you’re right about the online stories not holding up to the standard of a regular newspaper. I’m always disappointed when I read something online. It’s to the equivalent of the New York Post, something just not right or missing. Yet when people comment on how bad the article is, you never see a writer or editor fix the article to make it better.


    • I’ve been following your writing and you have some printer’s ink in your blood. You’re absolutely right, you can access some newspapers on iPhones or tablets, but it is not the same. And I’m really concerned about standards moving forward. Here’s to inky hands and crinkling sounds as you turn the pages! Thanks.


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