Print or online — you decide

27 02 2009

Newspapers always remind me of my mom. Every morning growing up, I would drag myself out of bed and come out in the living room to find her sitting in her chair with a cup of coffee in one hand and the newspaper in the other.

We always joke that she reads the newspaper like it’s her job. She tears and clips articles out with such reckless abandon that when she is done, the Sacramento Bee and Appeal Democrat more closely resembled slices of Swiss cheese than actual newspapers.

I’ve said this before and I’m saying it once again: I’m an ink on the fingers girl. Always have been and hopefully always will be — and I probably have my mom to thank for it.

The newspaper gives you the actual physical element that you can hold onto (and tear to shreds if you so desire). This is something that you can’t get from the Web — and if you try to get it, you will most likely end up needing to buy a new computer monitor.

However, having said all this, online news certainly has its advantages. If you want breaking news on the fire that broke out earlier this afternoon, and don’t want to have to wait until the tomorrow morning, the Web is your best bet. Also, as a broke college student, nothing warms the cockles of my heart quite like the word “free” — which at this point online news happens to be.

Articles produced on the Web have a living, breathing quality to them. Unlike print, they can be adapted as more information becomes available. This also applies when — heaven forbid — an error should find its way into the news. In print, this requires writing a nice little spiel about it on the corrections page in a following issue, while online sources can simply correct the error with no one being the wiser (usually).

The Web also has a much greater reach — this can be both good and bad. It’s good in the sense that theoretically, news can permeate into the farthest reaches of the earth (minus issues of access) but bad in the sense that once you put something on the Web, it’s out there.

These are issues that Catherine Bray, commissioning editor of 4 Talent, brings up in a speech given at the Regional Press Networks meeting.

Still by an large, people love the newspaper, and often don’t consider something to be “real news” until they read it in print. It gives readers a sense of authenticity and accuracy that the Web is still fighting to achieve.

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