Saturday, August 28, 2010

We Don't Need No Water, Let the Printed Paper Burn!

What news form would you prefer: a bulky bundle of cellulose, slipping through your itchy inky fingertips and scattering around, or a slick and slim Smartphone with multiple applications?

If you choose the latter, you succumb to convenience, mobility, and common sense. If you choose the former, dear Luddite, you are on a way to a big disappointment. I’ve heard the demise of the newspaper is coming! Ha! The print is already dead, long live the internet!

Its spread has stimulated instantaneous delivery of free news: a matter of timeliness is no longer the matter. Online news is more efficient: absence of paper and ink saves electricity and labor. Welcome to economic equilibrium! Besides, according to The New Yorker, the dwindling number of Americans, who still buy and read a daily paper, spends less than fifteen hours per month with it. Read more by Eric Alterman.

But, will we jeopardize accuracy and credibility of information by succumbing to a quicker access? Not at all. There are numerous examples of newspapers’ articles being subjective and biased, or, how they like to say, shaped by a cultural context (e.g. the article by Brian Thevenot on the Hurricane Katrina).

I’d say the current status quo on the issue of accuracy and credibility will remain. Furthermore, there is a possibility for improvement: online readers have broader and quicker access to alternative sources to verify information. Credibility, along with readers, will follow the most accurate portal. This tendency may help rule out vegetative consumption of news, it will actively engage and educate people on being responsible citizens.

We need to pay tribute to the newspaper, though. Over two centuries, it has evolved from a mere advertising booklet for the elites to a microscopic tool of democratic scrutinizing and interrogating the power. It has served the society well, until it has developed into a quasi-capitalistic slot machine. As soon as it’s gone public to generate groundless dividends on the-house-of-cards shares, it’s been doomed.

Excessive borrowing has been digging the ditch, in which the newspaper’s been ready to fall, once the market calls all debts (Read more by Marc Eisen). After all, it’s not just internet that killed the newspaper... As Stijn sings (video): “All the paper souls are ready to go…up in the flames.” So, let it burn.

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