With the rise of the internet came the fall of print journalism. In fact, according to Douglas McLennan and Jack Miles of The Washington Post, U.S. newspaper printing has dwindled from 60 million to 35 million in 24 years. While there are many reasons I am able and willing to argue for picking up a physical copy of the newspaper, I cannot ignore some obvious facts. I cannot argue a newspaper is more convenient than a handheld device that can be activated and directed to a news source in a matter of seconds. Nor can I argue that placing breaking news in a print edition is more efficient than posting it in a digital form. Then, why pick up a newspaper?
I could tell you, dear reader, about how the decline of print journalism is adversely affecting the job market and salaries of a journalist, but instead, I will focus and tell you the opportunities you are denying yourself by not picking up physical copies of newspapers.
The answer is quite simple really, but it is worth a wordy explanation. While it is incredibly easy to click on a clickbait headline and read the online version, you are selling yourself short of the experience you could potentially have by picking up the entirety of the paper whose article you have read. In the physical copy of the newspaper lies the personality and creativity of the writers and editorial staff that can never fully translate over to print. For example, if you do not pick up the physical copy, you may never experience the beautiful outcome of the Tetris game the editorial staff must play with stories and graphics.
As the Editor-in-Chief of The Reflector, I can tell you firsthand this game can be tricky, but it is so insanely satisfying when it works in our favor. On the days before our issue dates, each section editor easily spends three or so hours formatting their page. When a reader picks up a physical copy of our paper, they are picking up the manifestation of what online articles can never achieve.
For those of you which might argue there is an online or downloadable copy of the physical issue which can yield the same experience, I offer this—newspapers are not only portable and lightweight, but they can be read anywhere (and without a screen glare that hinders reading) while giving you unadulterated pleasure away from a steady stream of Wi-Fi.
Most importantly, newspapers provide a unique, nonfiction account of how a collection of writers view the world around them.
In this sense, the print editions are a tangible, historical resource which provides insight and understanding of the writers both actively writing and of days gone by.
Many past newspapers are housed in archives, providing both material for researchers and an outlet for curious history buffs. If print newspapers were to one day cease to be, we would lose a valuable source of historical assets. Print newspapers allow us to look back on how the American people reacted to events that we have only read about in history books, and in the case of MSU, Special Collections houses copies of our issues dating back to The Reflector's first issues in 1884. There, you can find student reactions to some of the most significant events in American history: World War II, the assassination of former president John F. Kennedy and 9/11.
If we were to lose print newspaper or newspapers as a whole, we would lose a large and important piece of our history.
In many cases, journalists are a voice of the people and, often, a voice to the voiceless. If newspapers and journalists are not around to tell their stories, in many cases, who will listen?
Additionally, as Europe has adopted laws which allow for erasure of online articles "under the concept of the right to be forgotten," print journalism carries more weight than ever, as stated by Adam Satariano and Emma Bubola of The New York Times.
The next time you think about reading an article, I hope you will pick up the physical copy of a newspaper nearest to you. While these crinkly broadsheets may leave you with ink-stained fingers, you are ultimately holding the history of your alma mater, small town or nation in your hands. Support local and national print journalism, and if nothing aforementioned appeals to you, consider this—flipping through a newspaper looks a hell of a lot cooler than scrolling through your smartphone.