Newspapers: Necessity Or Outdated Cultural Tradition

The arrival of the technological age has shaped societies method of procuring current news and information. From town criers to headline notifications on cellular devices, the accessibility of current events has become cheaper and almost instantaneous. Due to the increased use of technology, newspapers have become an almost archaic way of acquiring daily news. Some may argue that newspapers are outdated, a waste of resources, or are not needed due to the increase of scholarly acceptance of online sources.

I believe that newspapers are still relevant in today’s world as it has a positive outlook on being used as a source, more reliable due to the editing process, and simply used as generational tradition. Though the instantaneous feed of current events online does have its pros, a significant con of it is the amount of false information being put out. For example, in April 2016 after the bombings at the Boston Marathon, the community at Reddit posted a false accusation of a possible suspect. The community concluded that a 22-year-old man by the name of Sunil Tripathi was the Boston bomber. Within a couple of hours, the name spread to local and nation news agencies calling for an investigation of the possible suspect. A public witch hunt soon occurred but soon after it was reported that Sunil had been dead for quite some time. This man that Reddit had concluded was one of the Boston bombers, that had his face plastered on social media and new stations, was long dead before the tragedy occurred.

Newspapers are necessary due to their long and tedious editing process. By allowing headline news to develop and by following an editing process, newspaper agencies can provide its subscribers a reliable and fact checked source of information cleared of false and defaming information. Though this process is time consuming as the publisher(s) has to fact check all published information, this provides a more reliable source of news. Another example of, undoubtedly immediate, false news spread through online news sources was during the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school shooting. Within the first hours after the shooting, the gunman was falsely accused of following “Syrian resistance groups” (Report: Florida Shooter ‘Fascinated by Guns’-Followed ‘Syrian Resistance Groups’, Caruso) and he was “a member of ISIS” (Reported Florida Shooter Discussed “ALLAHU AKBAR” on Instagram Profile”, Daniels). If that isn’t shocking, all of this false information came out before his name was even released. Though this may not be strong enough of a point to consider subscribing for daily or weekly newspapers, this should validate that the editing process of the newspapers can increase the credibility of published news. Regardless of whether how reliable the content of the newspaper is due to the lengthy editing process, a main argument of the ridding of physical copies is purely convenience.

In this age of technology then need for instant information is almost a necessity in itself, from traffic data to weekly weather, the speed of which that info is gained cannot be obtained as fast with a newspaper. As more of society has access to information, with the help of smart phones and the interweb, the need for physical copies of news material has decrease significantly. With this much power at one’s fingertips, who has the time to wait for a copy of the weekly newspaper when with a couple of taps and swipes can procure any information needed. Another argument against the need of physical newspapers is the resources used to make them. 500,000 trees must be cut down just to produce each weeks Sunday paper (“Paper Recycling Facts”, University of Southern Indiana). With today’s craze of going green, it would only make sense to get rid of physical copies of newspapers, specially to make the everyday environmentalist happy. If switched to an online source of news, we can save roughly 250 million trees each year according to the same article above by the University of Southern Indiana. Though the reliable information put out by new agencies in the local newspapers is a good source for scholarly use, teachers have an increase in acceptance of online resources as the information available has increased due to the internet. As students are using online sources more, the availability of the newspapers used as sources has decreased leading to the point that again, we should switch to online new sources. (“PBS Survey Finds Teachers are Embracing Digital Resources to Propel Student Learning”, Mills). Due to the technological age, even the procurement of physical copies of newspapers has become a scarce commodity for school research papers, leading students to use the local library for newspaper article, and even those are being phased out.

My last argument for the relevancy of the newspaper is that of rural communities. Those that do not have access to the internet still rely on the newspaper for current events. My trip recently to South Dakota has definitely shown me that newspapers are still used for information of outside events as the households I visited did not have internet. Though cell phones were abundant as usual, the amount of newspapers being read in local areas were higher than from what I’ve seen in California. I feel that getting rid of the physical copies of newspapers would be shorting those who cannot afford the luxury of the internet or any higher source of technology. Taking away the newspaper from those stated above would not only be detrimental to the lively hood of the rural community but also hurt the traditional method of obtaining the news through physical means. The Sunday paper was the main source of news throughout the early part of the 20th century and to force out the production of a reliable source of news due to an increase in speed of acquiring information through other technological means is again wronging those who can’t afford the means for higher technology.

In conclusion, the newspaper is still relevant in today’s technological age due to how it can be used as a reliable resource in the scholarly environment. As many sites are throwing out information that has not been fact checked, the editing process for the newspaper can push out reliable information at the cost of time. Lastly it is purely tradition in some rural places of the United States where those who do not have access to the interweb can be informed of current events through reliable and trusted means.

13 January 2020
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