The online onslaught is severe and has managed to sweep our attention towards it. There are people who believe that whatever is there to know and understand can all be found on some or the other online portal. There are websites that inform as well as entertain besides selling something or the other. Even my son who is in London says, ‘I get all my news online.’
But listen, I still get four different newspapers delivered to me each morning. I cannot even think of a morning slowly merge into the afternoon without my reading the daily newspaper. A few years back some analysts had begun predicting the death of newspapers as we have seen them. Even I had started logging on to the epapers and sometimes found them rather useful because sharing snippets seemed so much easier without me having to scan an article or headline from its paper version. Snip and you’re done seemed like music to me then. But as the years rolled by, I am back to believing that unless I navigate through the pages, I will not really understand everything that is happening around me as I wish to. Paragraphs hurriedly scanned on a smartphone or a tablet cannot rise to becoming a ‘mirror of society’ so to say. The New Statesman writes in an article: ‘Theatre outlasted not only the newspaper, but also cinema and then television. Radio has flourished in the TV age; cinema, in turn, has held its own against videos and DVDs. In the first eight months of 2013, US hardback book sales rose 10 per cent while ebook sales fell. Even vinyl records have made a comeback, with sales on Amazon up 745 per cent since 2008.’
We all know that even newspapers were not always the main source for news and views… but slowly found their prime niche in a world that had depended for centuries on the oral tradition and then stone tablets and papyrus rolls. Now in the digital era, their existence is being questioned. Not that I am averse to connecting to the internet to find out if all is well with the world… but then a headline in a tweet is not as palatable as leaning over the shoulders of Specky, my wife, to read one that she has her finger on. Yes, I have my own set of peppy reasons for believing that newspapers are not going to fade away.
- I can stand on the balcony in bright light and watch the kids play seven stories below as I go through the latest of Virat Kohli’s exploits.
- Solving daily Sudoku and word puzzles with my wife are so full of organic joy that these games on apps can never give.
- Read news without your attention being hijacked by social media messages after every few seconds.
- I can roll the newspaper and swat an irritant bug without risking smashing an expensive gadget if I do the same with it.
- Carry a vital cutting to show to those who aren’t net, computer, and gadget friendly.
- Browse through full-page adverts and make my own notes in the white spaces as I plan my next post.
- No qualms about handing a newspaper that has been read to my neighbour who wants to read but never wants to buy one.
- In India we can even sell old newspapers in raddi and subsidize the billing for the next month.
- Keep my hot bowl of soup over it on my lap and not risk any burns.
There are hundreds of more reasons that I can think of that I use the newspaper for besides reading the news and the views in its edit pages. In fact I can even navigate through the traffic in my Tata Zica with the newspaper strategically poised to let me go through the headlines without risking a traffic cop stopping and fining me for using my smartphone while driving.
Most important, I love the invigorating smell of the bundle of daily newspapers as I carry them in… unbeatable and priceless, no doubt. Yes sir, newspapers are not going away anywhere.
08 February 2016