Earlier today, I came across a column arguing that the newspaper still has importance. When I clicked the link and saw the title “Old but hardly irrelevant,” I have to admit I was quite skeptical. The piece, written by Michael Bradley, was posted on Indiana University’s SportsJournalism.org. As I began, the author was quick to admit that Twitter is the most superior method at delivering news and that the newspaper’s demise is not a question of if, but of when.
So what is Bradley’s argument for newspapers supposed to be?
Bradley surmises that in today’s fast-paced world of information, whatever content we are consuming at the moment will be done away with as soon as we move onto the next piece. In a digital world, there is no hanging onto old pieces of paper for archival purposes.
Bradley insists that the newspaper cover is the one component that simply cannot be replaced. Think the day after a monumental news event or the day after your favorite team wins a championship.
In light of last week’s Boston Marathon bombings, Bradley writes:
Despite all of that, the most powerful reminders of the bombings were the day-after front pages of newspapers from around the world. They were permanent chronicles of the moment and will forever transport us to that time and place. The headlines were chilling, and the photographs were iconic. To many, the first thought of the day will be the image of the three police officers running toward the fallen runner, with smoke heavy in the air and the sense of chaos palpable. No matter how much video footage one watches or informative tweets one reads, none of it has the staying power of a front page.
Bradley is 100% correct. I’ve always been enamored with historic newspaper covers. I was reminded of that over the weekend when visiting the Museum of Science & Industry’s submarine area. In the entrance hall were all the major newspaper covers from the World War II time period. To no surprise, my wife ended up having to patiently wait as I slowly made my way through that hall.
In October, 2005, the night the White Sox won the World Series, I went to all the major Chicago news websites and major sports websites and took screen shots of each home page. For all I knew, webpage screen shots could be a trend in the future. Over eight years later, I still got them, albeit stored on a hard drive never to be looked at (I may have done the same thing after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010. Ironically, I don’t remember).
Even if I were to print and frame just one of those webpage screen shots, I have the feeling it still wouldn’t be quite the same as the newspaper cover. Not even close.