I keep coming across a bothersome (to me anyway) idea – newspapers are on their way to extinction. This disturbs me because number one, I don’t like change and number two, I like to read the newspaper.
Here is some of the rhetoric I’ve read recently:
Clay Shirky, who teaches interactive telecommunications at New York University, makes what many would consider a heretical statement: “Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.” It’s clear the newspaper business will never be the same. (SHUT UP!)
Finding things that work is on every publisher’s and editor’s mind these days. The situation in Europe is not quite as dire as it is in the U.S., where plunging profits, shrinking staff numbers and bankruptcies are now all commonplace. But Europe’s newspapers are struggling just the same. Investment guru (and owner of a big chunk of the Washington Post Co.) Warren Buffett saw this coming. In 2006, he explained the depressing law of newspaper gravity at a meeting of his Berkshire Hathaway Corp.: “Newspaper readers are heading into the cemetery, while non-newspaper readers are just getting out of college. It’s hard to make money buying a business that’s in permanent decline.”
I understand the dilemma; people aren’t buying newspapers as much anymore. They can get their news online for free; although it sounds like that will be changing soon. Online news providers are beginning to charge a subscription fee now too.
All of this has me wondering what the world would be like with out any newspapers. You can follow the extinction timeline here if you want to see the future prediction of when news print will go the way of the Dodo bird.
What would we line our bird cages with?
How would we house train our puppies?
Without the morning newspaper countless men would miss their daily *ahem* “constitutional”. (And I know from experience that newspaper has come in very handy in more than one out house over the years. Just sayin’)
We would be deprived of the Sunday paper sellers in their neon vests delivering the fattest paper of the week right to our car window! Oh the convenience of it!
How would future generations of children pretend to be very grown up while they read the funnies beside their parents while their parents peruse the serious news?
You’d no longer be able to double circle the want ads that appeal even if only in your imagination (or check the creepy but amusing single ads)?
How could anyone ever again start a really good fire in their fireplace without the aid of newspaper?
Old newspaper is great used along rows in your garden to keep the weeds down and then conveniently composts itself. Brilliant!
Would people have to teach their dogs to “fetch the laptop, boy!”?
I used to make things out of old newspaper as a kid. Mr. DressUp taught me to make a huge palm tree once; and hats, lots of hats. Wait! Can you even imagine a kindergarten class void of dipping newspaper strips in glue and sticking them to balloons which then magically turn into paper mache masks? That would be criminal in my opinion!
Or stealing the opportunity for future generations to come across a heap of old newspapers we’d stored in our attics, forgotten about and then left for them to discover long after we’d died. No perfect snap shot into what our lives were like; instead they’ll find obsolete electronic devices that won’t power up any more.
It saddens me deeply to imagine a world without newspapers. I love all those words gathered, all the reporting and editing and racing to deadlines. Such effort for each addition and we have the choice to skim the headlines or devour each and every story. It’s our choice and then we can throw the whole thing away (or recycle it) without guilt because we know for sure that another will follow it the very next day. Or will it? Could the newspaper be on its way to extinction? Sadly, I think it could happen.