On the heels of yesterday’s post, I started thinking seriously about newspapers.
Teaching Grade 9 Business, I had a subscription to the Globe and Mail and used it in class. It was a great resource for current stories about business. It was also a favourite of the teacher I shared the room with who would enjoy a read after our class. There were times when it would end up on the reading table in our department work area. I didn’t read it from front to back – I was basically reading the top news stories, looking to see what was in Report on Business and Report on Sport. It allowed me to authentically bring the world of business into our classroom. When that wasn’t enough, we had an awesome teacher-librarian who had other papers available on demand.
Today, though, things are different. As we know, these newspapers all have an internet presence where they post the same content that you’d find in print plus exploiting computer technology with full colour pictures, movies, and very aggressive advertising and some have paywalls. All three of the Toronto major newspapers – Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and Toronto Sun – use the same approach. Some content is free, the rest is available if you’re a paid subscriber.
Locally, we have one newspaper Windsor Star which is part of the PostMedia Chain. Our community has the Rivertown Times which is free on the web and also in print at certain locations. The editor is a former student and is constantly writing and taking pictures around town.
Often, the choice of website to land on depends on the editorial bent of the newspaper. It’s one of the things that they do to differentiate themselves. With the exception of the local newspaper, I can’t remember when I last read any newspaper from cover to cover.
In place of a single newspaper and its content, I prefer to gather information from the web from various sources and various opinions. There was a time when I thought that reading a newspaper from cover to cover made me think and that was enough. Now, I’m more prodded by a variety of inputs. Certainly, you can find any variety of opinion if you’re willing to search for it.
In competition with the traditional newspapers, we have other options. Local television and radio stations provide the latest news free of charge (although not free of advertising.) So, in addition to our traditional newspaper, we have Blackburn News, CBC Windsor, CTV Windsor, Windsorite, to name but a few. Since they’re all reporting from the same region, the lead stories are often the same and then it diverges from there. It’s the same for any major city.
So, where does that leave the traditional newspaper? It’s got to be a tough spot. We have a society that is increasingly appreciative of differing points of view and they are but a click away.
Some of the sources are trending towards more of a tabloid approach to its readers. We’ve seen the trend in educational software – EDUtainment and now it’s appearing in other places under the guise of editorialists. The traditional role of the newspaper is changing and I think we all recognise it as a case of surviving in a world of mixed media. They were king when news was what came out on paper. They’re now fighting for survival in different media. In order to survive, they need to provide value that supercedes what can be accessed from free and open sources.
It isn’t going to be easy. Even sitting down and pondering the online presence versus the presence when they were newsprint only shows that so much has changed. Is it going to be enough?