I read a lot of news, but rarely from hardcopy newspapers anymore. I know that reading things on the interwebs is better for the environment (or is it? Has anyone done the maths to see what emits more CO2 – killing trees and printing newspapers or digging up and burning coal to make electricity for my computer?), and the digital world is the future, but I have suddenly become quite nostalgic for the inky and flimsy-paper broadsheet. Why? What is the allure of the newspaper?
Reasons why I miss newspapers:
1) You can spill coffee (or any other food/beverage) on them.
Yes, I like to eat and drink while I read. I do occasionally end up in a bit of a mess on my desk as I’ve dropped or spilled something and desperately tried to avoid hitting the computer. There’s nothing worse than spilling a beverage on a computer keyboard. Actually, there is – dropping crumbs between the keys. It’s no drama for a newspaper, however. In fact, I think the circular stain from the bottom of a coffee cup is quite becoming.
2) They make a satisfying crinkly sound when the pages are turned.
To people nearby, that sound signifies “I’m reading, leave me alone”, or “I’m busy, I have important news to catch up on”. If I’m scrolling through news articles on the computer, onlookers have no cues to know that I’m doing something valuable with my time; I might just as easily be scrolling through my Facebook news feed.
3) You can linger over them.
Sitting in a cafe with my trusty MacBook open to the BBC News website is nowhere near the same as trying to make a broadsheet newspaper fit on the little table without upsetting my long black. If I sat there with my iPad, I’d just look like a tool, even though there’d be plenty of space for my coffee. And, if it’s a weighty paper, I could order another coffee while I read. Win!
4) Diversity in articles.
When on the net, I only ever read the articles I’m interested in. I don’t read every page just for the sake of it, yet when I read a newspaper I do. I read the articles that I have little interest in because I bought the damn paper and I’m going to get my money’s worth. That, and everything seems more interesting when in a newspaper. Except for the business pages. I never, ever read the business section. It goes straight to the cat. Which brings me to the next point:
5) The cat ends up with nothing to play with or shred.
The business section goes to the cat. She hides under it, tears it up and does her best hobo impression by sleeping under pages of it. All of which is entertaining to me too, so perhaps the business section is not so bad after all.
6) You don’t have to read inane comments after news articles.
I’m drawn to the comments section of online news pieces like a moth to a flame. I know I don’t care what the average person thinks about a particular news issue, but I look anyway. And I’m usually assaulted by a barrage of badly written, badly thought-out and badly expressed ‘opinions’ by Bazza from Penrith, or Shazza from Warragul. In a newspaper, there is no right of reply. Unless you send a letter to the editor, which often fill me with consternation when I read them, although less so than online because the ideas conveyed are often edited for spelling and grammar. You don’t have to read things written by some person who thinks that capital letters help convey tone: “what do YOU politicians think you’re doing? We PAY our TAXES and all you do is……etc”. Grammar is also a problem online. People don’t use it, and it makes me go slightly insane when I read poorly written comments with bad spelling and atrocious grammar. You can tell I made up that example because I used the correct form of ‘you’re’. For authenticity, I should have made it ‘your’, but I just can’t bring myself to be grammatically incorrect intentionally. ergh.
7) I feel like a lonely hermit when I’m hunched over my computer.
On the days when I am not at work (which seem, at the moment, to be almost every day), I think a newspaper would help me fill in my time in a more satisfying way than sitting staring at articles on my computer. I’m reading the same things that I’d be reading in the newspaper, but it just feels no different from working. I suppose that’s what happens when writing at a computer is the bulk of one’s job.
8) Your fingers go black.
It’s annoying, but for some reason I like it. Leaving dark smudgy thumbprints on pieces of office paper is more fun than it sounds.
9) Computers are no good for wrapping things.
10) The increasing presence of subscriptions required for viewing news websites.
If I’m paying money for something, I like to have something tangible for the cost. At least when I’m buying a newspaper I can flick through it to see if I want it. Paywalls on news websites often don’t allow me any more than just the headline.
So there you have it. I didn’t realise I had so many reasons – I was aiming for 9, because I don’t like round numbers, but ended up with an extra idea. Tomorrow, I’m going to buy a newspaper and a coffee, and spend time reading the paper while enjoying the coffee.