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Sept. 15, 2009 Nostalgia for Newspaper Print Editions By Claire S. Gould As you might

Sept. 15, 2009

Nostalgia for Newspaper Print Editions

By Claire S. Gould

As you might have noted from the number of articles on the subject, the current big topic of interest is the lack of newspapers on campus.

That’s right, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and USA Today will no longer be available for free on campus. The pushback from students on this issue has been astounding to me – mostly because our generation is one of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, texting, e-mail, e- books…and the list goes on.

So why are we up in arms about losing paper newspapers?

As several administrators, professors and students noted, “what’s the big deal, can’t you just read it online?”

I know we like considering ourselves to be a “green” campus by becoming more and more paperless. Now most readings for courses are available on Moodle (although ironically, most professors still encourage students to print articles out to bring to class).

But we want to feel a tangible newspaper in our hands sometimes. With all the reading we already do online, along with all the texts and Facebook message exchanges, there’s a sense of contentment and connection that we feel by reading the newspaper in the morning over coffee and breakfast, rather than just scanning the main headlines on our BlackBerry’s Twitter feed or via text alerts.

We want the black ink seeping off the paper onto our hands.

We want the smell of newsprint and ink.

There’s a sense of nostalgia and comfort achieved by the mere experience of opening up a physical newspaper. (We feel such nostalgia as well – see our “new” masthead with a classic photo of Conn.)

Don’t get me wrong — I compulsively read “NYTimes” news-breaking Twitter updates, have the “global edition” of their website bookmarked as my Firefox

home page, and enjoy reading some articles and blogs online.

But it’s not the same. There’s no sense of what was “above the fold” or “below the fold” — or what articles were deemed most important by the editorial staff.

As Professor Borer, an avid advocate for the college distributing the print edition of the NY Times for free to students, remarked, “On the web edition, it’s really hard to gauge what the most important articles are – and within just a few clicks, you could find yourself reading a blog.”

She, however, also reads the online edition for updates.

It seems that the online and print editions compliment each other perfectly — I personally can’t imagine reading just one or the other. Both are necessary to understand the whole picture.

That being said, The College Voice (on a much smaller scale of course), has been experiencing some similar discussions. With the gigantic jump in the price of newsprint and the consequent higher cost of publishing a print edition, last semester, administrators and staff suggested we consider publishing our paper solely online.

As you can obviously discern by reading my editorial in newsprint, this all-online leap never occurred.

I, along with most of our writers and editors, argued that the mere act of creating the layout of a print edition acts as a real-world learning tool for students interested in journalism.

Online, it’s just a matter of cut and paste. Content would likely be more sporadic and less likely to be under as severe scrutiny by both writers and editors.

We could quite easily turn into a blog instead of a newspaper.

However, at the advent of our first fully-fledged website in almost a decade, we are thinking quite seriously about our place in the online news world.

We’re up-to-date. We’ve got Twitter. We’ve got a Facebook page.

But knowing the interdependence of the online and print editions of a newspaper first-hand, we won’t compromise the advantage that the newsprint version gives our readers: a sense of what we (as an editorial staff) deem most important.