There’s a lot of debate going on whether print will sustain or die due to digital dominance. ‘The millennials’ famously described as the digital generation have very few or little experience when it comes to reading a newspaper.
In our Non-Profit Advocacy class, we discuss a lot of intense events happening around the world where topics could range from the refugee crisis to the holocaust survivors and more. As an assignment Professor Gary Wexler told us to ‘buy physical copy of the New York Times’ every day for 6 consecutive days and read it.
As soon as he announced this, the first question that popped up was,
“Where do we get newspapers?”.
“Where do they sell them?”
Well, this may sound stupid but in reality, there aren’t many places that sell them anymore unlike in earlier times.
In the following week’s class, he asked all the students about how it felt like to buy and read a physical copy of a newspaper. The following were the responses that few students had to say:
1. Challenging to Find a newspaper
“To start off with, it was a tough task to spot a place where newspapers were sold. It was not near where I live and I had a tough time searching for a store”.
2. An Expensive affair
“There are certain costs involved: fuel to drive to a store, parking costs and newspaper costs. Oh! And most often it is at Starbucks and then there is the cost of coffee too. It definitely was an expensive affair”.
3. Newspaper smells
“I realized while reading that the newspaper actually smells. I didn’t realize it until recently. Unlike most people, I don’t like the smell of newspaper and I am not a fan”.
4. Needs lot of patience
“It definitely takes a lot of patience to sit and read the entire newspaper. I thought it would take around 30 minutes but to read everything, it took me more than an hour”.
5. Depressing to read
“It was depressing to read because most stories I read were sad and complex. Since they are all placed next to each other, it was quite difficult to ignore. Reading them also creates a sense of anxiety”.
6. Carrying a newspaper made me sophisticated
“This past week, I was carrying newspapers to work everyday and unlike other days, I received unusual attention from people all around. Made me look very sophisticated”.
7. Building Relationship –
“It was hard to find a newspaper store but then when I found a person selling it a block away, my regular visits earned me a friend. So much so that he would be expecting me every morning”.
8. Forced myself to read the paper
“There is a significant investment made in terms of time, money and effort. So I didn’t want to buy the paper after all the effort and leave it on the table. I forced myself to read it and learnt more about the world news in a single than any of the previous years”.
9. Credit Cards/ Debits cards not accepted
“I managed to find a store but then credit/debit cards were not accepted and had to get physical cash to pay them. Also it has been a while since I actually dealt with physical cash and it was a good feeling to touch money again”.
10. Less Distraction, More focus
“Unlike reading online, there is certainly less distractions. Most often when you are alone, you are reading by yourself and are actually engaged”.
These were a few of many reactions from the class. It gave an interesting perspective, given the fact that we are living in a digital world.
On a different note, I’d like to ask 2 questions;
- How many of you still read a physical copy of a newspaper? If you do, what makes you do so?
- Do you think printing of physical newspaper will be stopped by 2030?
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