Newspapers were always a huge part of my life growing up. Whoever was up first in the house would bear the cold to go outside and pick up two little plastic bags, containing The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, from the driveway. I would wake up at six in the morning in high school just so I would have time to read the newspaper while I ate breakfast and drank my coffee. Soon enough, I had it memorized which sections would appear on which days.
There are many people out there like me who depend on various newspapers as a part of their routine, and paying for their subscriptions is just as important as paying for water and electricity. However, a growing number of people are advocating for growth in the digital platforms of newspapers. Readers argue that a switch to entirely online newspapers and other publications would be less expensive, less harmful to the environment and more convenient for readers. While this is true in many aspects, the decline of newspapers in their print medium is upsetting to me and I hope the transformation is not complete within my lifetime.
I have yet to find a copy of my preferred papers on campus, so I have been borrowing my dad’s subscription passwords for newspaper websites. While perusing online this past Wednesday, I noticed an article stating that The New York Times was planning to cut jobs coming from editorial and business operations “in order to control our costs and to allow us to continue to invest in the digital future of The New York Times.” Prior to the cuts for editorial and business, The New York Times has added employees to its “digital efforts, like web producers and video journalists.” Several other papers, such as USA Today and The Wall Street Journal have followed similar patterns.
To make it clear, I only read online articles of the aforementioned papers because I do not have access to print copies while I am away from home. The decline of print journalism and the Times’ recent announcement make my heart sink, knowing that a vital part of my morning routine could soon become extinct.
Flipping through each section of the paper forces you to look at articles and topics you may not normally read. At home reading the paper, I would have to flip through the front section to find my favorite sections, such as the Personal Journal of The Wall Street Journal. Admittedly, I would not naturally choose to read the news and business articles, but with all of them right in front of me, I would be more likely to. Now that I get my newspaper fix online, I click on only the sections and article titles that interest me, bypassing all of the issues I know I should be taking the time to read about. While previously it would take me about half an hour to read what I wanted to, now I am done with the online version within ten minutes.
I think this issue has come up for a lot of people, whether they notice it or not. The New York Times has decided to shut down its NYT Opinion mobile app, and I think this is because the opinion section doesn’t get a large audience when it is located on a separate online entity. The opinion app has been replaced with NYT Cooking, in my mind, because most people would rather read about food than struggle through an opinion on world issues.
Despite my protests, there are a few aspects of the online publications that I appreciate. Since I am a lover of the Dining and Style sections, the digital editions allow for extra media features, such as videos and additional graphics. Cooking videos and extra runway photos are especially enjoyable for me. Until I started using the online version of the newspaper, I didn’t realize that The New York Times produced their famous “36 Hours” travel column in a video form. Nevertheless, online features should only be an extra aspect for readers to enjoy, not a new form of the newspaper altogether.
I know a switch to digital publications would be less costly, have a lesser environmental impact and would be more convenient to readers. However, I am worried that an elimination of the print edition would ruin the centuries old tradition of reading the paper each morning, for me, and people all over the world.
—Sarah Sandler ’18 is undeclared.