Should we eliminate the printed newspaper and only receive our news online?

For centuries news has been a starter of conversation. Without news, information couldn’t be passed around and our world wouldn’t function. Over hundreds of years the means by which this happens is constantly being changed and updated - from letters to email and cinema to radio. However, in our modern world today, newspaper and online articles are very common forms of receiving daily news. But as much of our time is spent online in the 21stcentury so will the printed newspaper eventually be eliminated from society - leaving us with just news online?

The printed newspaper has been around since about 1665 and is easily accessible across England. Being simple to read, direct and free of annoying ads these are only some of the advantages. Articles from newspapers are sometimes used for group discussions at schools and the only way that this can be practical is by using a printed copy where students can annotate and analyse the information. I recently interviewed someone who used to work as a journalist and she told me “I preferred working for print because I had to be selective: there are only so many stories that you can fit into a newspaper. As an editor, this made me up my game – to select the best words, the best stories and the best pictures. Headline writing was also more creative – because I didn’t have to worry about my headline being a Google search hit – and more of a challenge because I had a smaller space on the page in which to write them.”.

However, since much more of our daily lives is being spent online, from communicating with family to shopping, it is only inevitable that news will be next at some point in the near future. There are benefits of online news for example the convivence when on the way to work of looking at the latest headlines or the avoiding the cost of printing and transporting the newspapers around once written. I asked the interviewee whether she preferred printed or online news as a reader rather than a journalist and she told me “As a reader I enjoy newspapers – there is something lovely and leisurely about immersing yourself in a newspaper and not being distracted by a screen or columns of clickbait. However, I do read online news a lot, too – if I’m on the go or want an immediate update on something.” This shows that even though the printed version has many benefits online news is always easier and more convenient. 

To conclude the interviewee said, after I asked her whether she thought all our news will eventually only be online, that “It’s hard to predict. At one-point publishers of books thought that everyone would have an e-reader, but, happily, this has not proved to be the case. I think newspapers still hold sway in our society – because they are selective in the stories they produce they are seen as the beacons of wisdom. Sadly, however, consumers are used to getting news free online and this has had a devastating impact on print journalism. Simply put, many people are not prepared to pay for news despite the hard work and resources that go into gathering, writing and editing good stories. Unfortunately, I think that we may well see newspapers shut down over the next few decades and we’ll be left with a small handful.”. This prediction follows the pattern with most aspects of our lives – that eventually we will see more of our news, in this case, being transferred online. 

By Rhyen Patel, Whitgift School