Saturday, 18 December 2010

Will our kids one day turn around and ask us "What's a newspaper?"

Typing this Blog entry, I know I'm making myself feel old by asking this question.  My kids will probably still know what a newspaper is knowing that I'm a keen fan of the printed newspapers that come to my doorstep every morning but it's a thought that troubles me somewhat.

Having already had to explain to my older daughter what the audio cassette slot in an old stereo she had come across was for, I know the time will come when she will be wondering if I'm still senile as I start talking about the days I used a 5-1/4 inch floppy disk or when I used to go to a music store to buy a CD (as opposed to downloading or streaming it online).

While there is no shortage of information online and I probably get most of my most immediate news updates online via Twitter, Facebook or e-newsletters that I subscribe to, I still find a satisfaction in reading my newspaper in the print edition that I get every morning.  There has been a lot of talk about the death of newspapers in many parts of the world and renowned publications like the Boston Globe or locally the likes of Emirates Business 24/7 have had their share of trouble in recent years but it makes you wonder if newspaper publishers have actually realized we still want our newspapers but instead of focusing on trying to give us "news," they should probably focus on giving us more depth than they would otherwise provide by talking about the bigger picture instead of the just the news angle that we most likely got through other sources online.

While most journalists probably get a thrill over splashing out their headline, newspapers today have become more than headlines.  The glitzy headlines are for the online publications.  Newspapers for me are about the content.   A well-written, detailed story that actually digs into the guts and glory means a lot more for me.  Given the fact that when you read a story online, whether it be on your laptop, tablet or smartphone, you're most likely to be in an environment where you're more distracted, you find reading off a newspaper is a much more focused exercise.  It actually gets you concentrating on matters on hand. You often see the same when you read a document on your computer screen or if you print it out, you start to see things in the printed document that you missed when reading it off your screen.

I may be old-fashioned, but I do hope newspapers will be around and that most publishers learn to re-invent themselves and evolve with the times.  Most newspapers will have to  understand the different content distribution models that exist and hopefully somewhere in the mix, the conventional newspaper will still live on.