The death of the newspaper

Technology – controlling our lives

Picture this – You’re a typical business man or woman, on the way to work in the morning sat on the underground. You are carrying your briefcase, mobile phone, possibly some business reports or samples for the meeting you may be on the way to. Your commute tends to be around 40-55 minutes, depending on the daily delays. A man plans to get off at the next stop and disregards the newspaper that he has been reading. You politely ask ‘Are you finished with the paper?’  After a response you take the paper, smile and catch up with the daily occurrences.

Now I know I am generalising here, however when you consider your classical business person, a newspaper is considered to be a crucial item – almost like part of a uniform. If you were to consider the traditional commuter dating back to the 16th century when newspapers were born, you would probably imagine them clutching a newspaper. This was considered the norm and still is today. It is part of our British tradition.

Now I ask you, to picture that exact scenario again, whilst subtracting the newspaper and replacing it for a smart phone or electronic tab. It doesn’t possess a similar authenticity or ‘jolliness’, instead it paints a picture of a train carriage consisting of reserved business people clutching their electronic goods – possibly fearing they may be stolen. The socialisation decreases, tradition vanishes and competition and consumption increases. Personally, I believe that the newspaper is one of our British traditions that form part of a culture that we are all content to be part of. Although there is a political argument to every newspaper, there is less competition or rivalry with which paper you read. Whereas with these electronic goods there is the persistent question of which phone or electronic tab you have.

Whilst conducting research for a university piece, I came across a fact that startled me. It is predicted that by the time 2043 comes around, ‘Newspaper hard copies will die out’. It is such an astonishing thought to picture a world without newspapers but having it full of electronic tabs instead! I would like to add, I am not the kind of person who wants to go back to the ‘golden age’ (ignoring the fact I wasn’t even around then), nor am I intimidated by technology. However, I am hesitant when it comes to technology replacing traditions and quirks that we all enjoy as part of our everyday culture, so hesitant it spurred me to write this article.

I grew up with my father reading the paper on a Sunday morning, clutching a cup of tea whilst possessing a slight frown upon his face. The papers were often broadsheets, so the table would be suffocated with sheets of news and I would always hear the rustling of him trying to turn a page. If I was to imagine him holding an electronic tab reading in complete silence, well I doubt I would even have remembered such a pointless memory. Even coming to university, I was astounded to learn that my course was 95% electronic. Now I understand the efficiency in this, but there was no choice, I am backed into a corner and expected to comply with these regulations of being a regular technology user.

Although I embrace technology at appropriate times, for example when I’d like to speak to a family member in America or I’m lost around the new university town and I need my friend to direct me, I believe it is overtaking our lives. Replacing hard copy newspapers with electronic tabs using the Internet is a scary thought that strips part of our culture if you ask me.

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