A new part of conventional wisdom is that print media is dying and it is being replaced by online alternatives. I believe, however, that people take newspapers for granted and that in many ways a newspaper is a beautiful. Although I am aware of the irony of a blogger writing a defence of newspapers on the platform that is killing newspaper sales, I still think it is important for us to look at these publications from a more romantic perspective. Rather than viewing these as in their last throws, I think it is important that we keep newspapers alive and hopefully my rose-tinted argument will shall convince you of my position.
Newspapers are wonderful things. They have reporters stationed all over the place in order to write articles about events happening in the farthest corners of the globe. Whether its an election in Burundi, environmental degradation in Greenland, or a corporate merger in Australia, a newspaper can bring you this information and relate the story to your own circumstances just in time for the morning commute.
Not only are stories from all over the world brought to a stone’s throw from your home, but stories from your own country are picked up and delivered to you. A report by a university that talks about pollution, covered. A poll that shows which political leaders are most and least trusted, covered. Analysis of what isn’t being covered by their competitors, covered.
In addition journalists flood these publications with investigative reports to expose exploitation, secrecy, and injustice. In the last week alone I have seen newspaper articles looking at poverty in developed countries, working conditions in the South East Asia, the daily life of somebody in Syria etc. All fascinating stories that didn’t even cross my mind as something I should research, but have since energised my own sense of curiosity to investigate further.
Not only do papers cover the news but they, mostly, provide analysis of what isn’t being said, or what a politician meant to say, or why people in a certain country act as they do. As well as inserting their own opinion, columnists review both the serious and the trivial in order to inform, educate, and entertain the reader.
Away from the cut and thrust of hard news, papers, especially on Sundays, provide us with supplements discussing music, theatre, and film. They have interviews with established actors and up-and-coming musicians, all sharing their latest creative offering, and with a review of it by a specialist of the genre. Furthermore there is discussion of financial and business news, which enable people to make investments and continue the charade of capitalism.
Concerned about a holiday? Travel diaries from Caracas to Cape Town show us the highs and lows of these destinations without putting on any trousers. Food reviews suggest places to go out with friends when we do decide to put clothes on. The sporting pages give us a fix of news and gossip about our favourite sports and athletes, imbuing us with optimism or outrage.
Newspapers have been a part of our lives in some form or another for thousands of years and I’ll be damned if they stop circulating while I’m on this planet. We can inform ourselves about the world around us for the price of a sandwich and have a physical copy of that day’s news stories. Academics, especially in the field of history, understand the value of newspapers as giving an insight into the lives of people at a given time, and it would be sad indeed if our rush to shift everything online made us lose this romantic appreciation of what these publications are. Papers are not just a collection of articles in isolation, they are letters to humanity calling for action against the wrongs of our world and we can read these profound documents whilst sitting on the toilet. What’s not to love?