They’re updated daily instead of by the minute. The pictures don’t move. They’re full of advertisements. The content can’t be customized to your preferences, so they’re full of stuff you’re not interested in. There’s no video content and no sound. Stories break off in the middle of a sentence and in order to read the rest of it, you have to flip through oversized pages rather than clicking on a link and having the page change itself.
So why on earth do we still have newspapers at the Downs-Jones Library? A pair of hardcopy newspapers, the Austin American Statesman and USA Today, can be found on the north side of the upstairs floor of the library, in with the racks of magazines. Huston-Tillotson University currently receives the weekday issues, Monday through Friday. And while the Downs-Jones Library prides itself on being a highly digital library, with tens of thousands of eBooks available and a growing number of online databases, we still have a place for the daily newspaper.
I’m fond of newspapers, and ironically for many of the reasons I just listed as problems. One of the great advantages of the daily newspaper is that even the breaking news has been given some time to be checked and evaluated, unlike a news website where rumor may be reported as fact in order to get a thirty-second lead on their competitor. This slight difference in time pressure allows newspaper editors to spend more time checking their stories – although, in practice, this doesn’t always happen. They are full of advertisements, it’s true. Newspapers aren’t cheap to print, but then servers aren’t cheap to host either, and at least it’s impossible to click on a paper ad by accident. Given the choice, I’d rather have a paper insert fall on my lap than a flashing neon popup ad appear on my computer screen trying to convince me that a) I am the 1,000,000th visitor and therefore a WINNER! and b) no, really, this isn’t a joke, click here to redeem your FREE iPad. Who exactly do popup programmers think they’re kidding?
As for not being able to pick and choose what appears in the paper, I find that the range of articles presented in a newspaper encourages me to be a more comprehensive news reader. I’d much rather read the cute article about the baby penguin robot spy…but that big headline about events in the troubled Middle East looks important, and I end up feeling bad for ignoring it. Even just reading half of the article before I lose my stomach for it (this does happen) makes me much more informed than I was, and at least I’ve acknowledged that these things are happening rather than ignoring them because they aren’t entertaining. (Although it never hurts to read the cute article as well.)
Newspapers are also a great way to find out about events in the world and locally that you didn’t know you were looking for. I hope to adopt a couple of cats in the near future – by keeping an eye on the local section of the paper, I’m going to do so during one of the times when the shelter is lowering fees and encouraging people to adopt pets because they’re overcrowded. The classified ads can be quite funny, although not as funny as the editorials and letters to the editor can be. And if you’re looking for a garage sale to replace that lamp that got broken recently…yes, classifieds do often list garage sales. While I may not currently have time to get involved in most of the activities or visit the restaurants that feature articles recommend, at least the information is there, food for imagination when it seems like the entire world is made up of class projects, homework assignments, and due dates.
And that’s why I like reading the paper every day – even in the afternoon when the daily articles are already out of date by half a day. And that is part of why we still subscribe to a physical newspaper.
Do you have a reason to read a physical newspaper?
Would you like one?
Stop by the library sometime and try it out.