In praise of print
There was big news this week in the newspaper business, a business that is near and dear to the folks who publish the paper that you are currently reading.In a statement about the further convergence of the Web and newspapers, Yahoo inked a deal (interesting that the old-school term “inked” still applies in the digital age when one actually “keystrokes” a deal these days) with 176 papers to share content, technology and advertising. This means that newspapers, many of which are looking to the future with fear they will become obsolete, have agreed to offer up their stuff to the No. 1 Web destination, Yahoo, which has 131 million visitors each day.The deal is a “bulk” deal, meaning that Yahoo will have three times as many paper partners as Google, which recently did its own deal with about 50 papers. The Google deal includes both The New York Times and The Washington Post, so perhaps they are pushing for quality over quantity.Studies show the newspaper business is still a profitable one, despite the erosion by other forms of media that have siphoned advertising dollars. But newspaper owners think the writing is on the wall and are desperately searching for ways not to get lost in the new media age.But methinks they doth protest too much. There is value left in print and, despite the rapid rush to Web-based content, a local paper is an important part of a community, one that should be nourished and supported by the publishing companies rather than discarded as just so much “content” for another media.There is joy and comfort in sitting down with a daily paper. The familiarity of one’s favorite columnists, the tactile nature of holding something in your hands, the ease of folding it to read while you hang with one hand by the strap on a subway.Newspapers offer satisfaction in ways that cannot be matched by getting up, waiting for your computer to boot, sorting through your e-mails, tossing out the spam, and then logging in with a name and password to get to where you can search for your favorite bloggers, And reading a daily paper can be a leisurely activity as well, while searching the Web for stories generally is done quickly, with a cool efficiency that allows little time to digest or contemplate the real meaning of a story.I’m not suggesting that there is not value in conceiving a Web strategy for local papers. All I’m saying is that in the rush to look down the proverbial road to the future, newspaper companies should not overlook their core asset.The people like you who like to open up their daily paper.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.
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