Face Off: Are printed newspapers outdated?

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  • Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. 
  • This week, they discuss whether print journalism is still necessary in 2020.
Kelly Fung |
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Are physical, printed newspapers outdated in the age of the internet?

Amber Kwok, Renaissance College

Most people, especially younger generations, receive their news mainly from social media. It’s important to understand that this trend isn’t just about being tech-savvy, but rather that online newsfeeds provide immediate updates as events happen. 

In printed newspapers, stories have to be carefully edited, published, and then distributed. But online services, especially breaking news, can be immediately released in a variety of formats. Users can also choose which articles they hear, watch, or read.

Printed newspapers can be regarded as more reliable, considering they are fact-checked and written by real journalists. But it is obvious that they are no longer the principle source of news, purely because of the limitations of printed information in terms of time and space.

What’s more, printed news also requires a lot of resources. These days people are becoming increasingly aware of environmental protection. Deforestation is one of the biggest problems associated with the paper industry. Also, the production process requires huge amounts of electricity which leads to carbon emissions. Then there is also the use of ink and other chemicals that can damage the environment.

Further, we need to go out and buy a newspaper. In this age of the coronavirus, this should be avoided. The government is promoting social distancing, so the best solution is to check your smartphone for the latest news.

Finally, we need to have a global perspective of the events that are happening around the word. Printed newspapers only cater to readers in their region or country. 

In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, news should not be limited by where we live. And people should not waste their time on articles that don’t interest them.

Online news is a product of globalisation which will continue to rule our lives.

Should social media platforms stop collecting user data?

Yuhan Huang, German Swiss International School

Newspapers aren’t going away any time soon. According to a 2012 report by the World Association of News Publishers, 2.5 billion people read a printed newspaper regularly, while 2.2 billion people use the internet. This shows that not only is the printed newspaper industry much stronger than people think, it has a certain quality that online news services cannot hope to surpass. 

When news stories are read electronically, they are filtered through a system of Google alerts and algorithms that are uniquely tailored to the reader’s tastes and beliefs. But with a printed newspaper, it is an entirely different experience. It compels you to turn the pages and read stories that you may otherwise ignore, thanks to a great headline or eye-catching picture. This is one of the greatest joys of reading “real” newspapers.

In addition, many older people grew up before the arrival of social media, and value the feel of physical paper over its digitised form. Not only is it easier for their eyes, it is an age-old tradition they have practised for many years.

What’s more, a printed newspaper is an authentic snapshot of history. Compared to digital news that is temporary, news that is recorded on paper has a more real-life feel, and the limited number of stories in a tabloid or broadsheet encourages readers to pay more attention to them rather than scroll down with the flick of a finger. 

Many smaller community newspapers are printed once or twice a week and are excellent at capturing the collective spirit of their people. They are people’s go-to-sources that provide information on what’s going on in their immediate surroundings.

Finally, printed newspapers make news more accessible to a wide range of readers. It is easy to forget that not every person has internet access or knows how to use it. Take India, for example; not everyone has easy access to the internet, and the newspaper industry is thriving. The publications we take for granted in the developed world provide an essential window to the world in less developed places.

These factors all add up to make the printed newspaper indispensable to billions of readers every day. 

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