Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Will print newspapers survive the Digital Age?

Will print newspapers survive the Digital Age?

by Dan Bloom, blogger in Taiwan via Boston-Seattle-Tokyo


TAIWAN -- I've been working in and around newspapers for most of my life,

beginning as a newspaper delivery boy in western Massachusetts

in the 1950s. During my teenage years, the massive

edition of the Sunday New York Times

would arrive at the doorstep with

a welcome thud, and I'd spend

the rest of the morning devouring every section of the paper, lying

on the carpet of the living room. And then there was the Boston Globe

during my four years at Tufts College -- and the Boston Herald, too.

This was a long time ago, of course, before the Internet shook up my

world, and your

world, for sure. You see, most print newspapers are headed for the garbage heap

of history by 2025, maybe sooner. Well, that's what the

doomsayers say as the Digital Age stands up proud with its

Kindles and state-of-the-art iPhone e-reading apps and says

good riddance to paper.

But wait a minute, I want to say, hold your horses! Print newspapers

are not dead

yet, and they don't have to die. As Dave Eggers has said, there's no

reason that print newspapers and online news sites cannot co-exist together.

I love newspapers, yes I do.

But now lean in close

to the screen on this one because I want to make this very clear: I love

digital newspapers, too.

The reason I love print newspapers so much is because, yes, of

course, I grew

up with them. Maybe you did, too.

For many people today with Facebook and Twitter

and YouTube, it's a totally different story, and I understand

that story, too.

I also

have a Facebook page and a twitter account, so I am

not against pixels or E Ink or screengrabs. I just love "snailpapers",

as I call them,

and I use that word as a term of endearment, as you will see.

Recently, I penned a novelty song about

newspapers titled "I Just Can't Live (Without My Daily Snailpaper)".

You can find

it on YouTube.

The reviews have been mixed. First the good news.

Palash Dave, a British-Indian writer, film-maker, stage/online

impresario, writes from India: "[Your] wee witty ditty is a

gently-satiric tribute to a threatened form. As a snailpaper-junkie

from Limeyland (where we used, in less hygienic times, to re-deploy

our daily papers as wrapping for our "fish'n'chips") I raised a wry

eyebrow at this affectionate, anti-modish celebration of some

justly-venerated American institutions. I wish [you] well in pressing

for their preservation."

Diana McClellan, the retired Washington DC gossip

columnist, listened to the video and

told me: "This is the

world's first musical obit for newspapers!"

Carl Bernstein's in the song, in the second verse (along with Bob

Woodward. and Ben Bradlee, their boss during the Watergate days), and

after he listendd to it, he told me in a brief email about

a week later: "Your

newspaper love song is

delightful, the message is right and your voice is on target."

Jeffrey Jolson-Colburn, publisher and editor of the online news site

"Hollywood Today (and the grandson of Al Jolson, by the way)," said

the lyrics resonated with him. "I've been publisher or editor of 12

newspapers, about half of them print newspapers and half of them

online news site. I wish all were print papers, I've got ink in my

veins. However, online is only way to stay alive now."

But not everyone agrees with the song's intent. Every song has its critics.

I asked a woman in Australia, screen name Bella Kyee, who I met by

chance on Facebook, if she reads any newspapers Down Under and if had

any advice on how to help the song go viral on the Internet. She

replied in a succinct one-line note, which I reproduce here in its

entirety, verbatim: "Noooo!.... I don't do newspapers .....HAHAHA!"

Will print newspapers survive the current onslaught of the Digital

Age? I don't know the answer, but I sure hope they do.

I embrace

digital as much as I embrace paper and print. E Ink is amazing. The

blogosphere lights up my life 24/7. I can't imagine a world without

computers or screens or iPods or iPads, and while it's possible that

the coming roll-out of Apple's iPad will put several more nails in the

coffin of print newspapers, as one pundit recently opined, I still

want to stand up for newspapers and say: "Long may they live!"

So what is the purpose of my song? Hopefully, it will prod

newsroom people and news consumers and Tufts professors to


on just where the future of good journalism lies. Like Dave Eggers, I

feel it lies in both paper and on screens.

As for the term "snailpapers" that I coined for the song, Paul Gillin

of the Newspaper Death

Watch blog said it well: "[He]

thinks maybe if newspapers poked more fun at themselves instead of

getting all righteously indignant about

new media, they would generate more sympathy."

It's true, print newspapers arrive on our doorsteps in the

morning with news that is already 12 hours old. That's a snailpaper,

by definition. Snailmail, snailpapers.

But as the song says, "I just can't live without my daily snailpaper!"

Can you?




Dan Bloom graduated from Tufts in 1971 with a degree in literature.

He's been travelling ever since and now

calls Taiwan home. He can be reached at danbloom@gmail.com


Nadeem1414 said...

http://www.enews.pk i have visited to this site and find to get the latest news up date which is provided by the newspapers

William P said...

Northward Ho - I was looking for some serious discussion of survival from global warming. This is a discussion about survival of newspapers. Sounds like this blog is all over the map.

Can someone direct me to a good and serious blog about polar cites and survival of mankind from global warming?
Bill G

Anonymous said...


those guys above are phishing, do not respond to them. this is note from FBI Interpol office.