Apr 29, 2008

10 Reasons I Still Read Newspapers Offline

I was having a conversation today (on Twitter. NB: People are starting to have actual conversations on Twitter these days) with Dave Title and Girl Riot about why I still like reading the print edition of newspapers, going so far as to have daily subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

It dovetailed nicely with a conversation I’d been having with Cam Beck over on MP Daily Fix about our joint fear that as newspapers continue to go out of business, the level, depth and diversity of news reporting will suffer, which is troubling because a democratic society depends on a free press.

But back to the more granular issue of reading the newspaper in its original form. Which may be a particular tic of mine and I don’t think it’s for everyone, but here are 10 Reasons I Still Read Newspapers Offline:

  1. There’s still something special about going out and getting the paper off the driveway in the morning. It’s like the day doesn’t officially start until someone brings the paper into the house.
  2. Online headlines are always the same size. But there’s something about a giant 72 point banner headline splashed across the front page that tells you that something of grave importance happened that day.
  3. The entire family can share the same newspaper over the breakfast table, trading sections with each other and passing the paper back and forth to share articles. Yes, you can email each other things and pass the laptop around, but it loses something in the translation.
  4. If you spill coffee on the Times, you’re out $1.50. Spill coffee on the MacBook and you’re out $1,500.
  5. There’s a serendipity to reading the newspaper. I often stumble upon articles I’d never have read based on the headline, but there was something (a picture, a phrase, a byline) that caught my eye and got me to read it.
  6. I can read the newspaper in places I can’t read my laptop. (The beach, a crowded train, an airplane, the thousands of places that don’t have free WiFi.)
  7. My Blackberry is great for checking basketball scores, but reading an entire newspaper article on the tiny screen is an exercise in frustration
  8. Pictures look much better in newsprint. They’re not as clear, but there’s something about the size of a big picture in the newspaper that gives it import.
  9. I like big full-page print ads. Well-done ones, anyway.
  10. When I read the newspaper, I'm just reading the newspaper. When I read it online, I'm much more likely to multi-task, click over to other sites and wind up missing a number of articles I'd intended to read.
Now this is not to say I never read newspapers online. I actually do. A lot. I just prefer reading them offline. One suggestion I'd like to offer up though, something that would make my life a lot easier, would be if the print edition of papers included an easy, snurl-like url at the beginning or end of every article so that you could share it with your friends without having to re-find it online.

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