The fate of the newspaper

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Nick Faris

Print

There’s still value to be found in traditional, print-based journalism.

Perhaps I’m clinging to the last vestige of a dying medium, but newspapers have the capacity to appeal to readers in ways that don’t translate to the web.

In newsrooms renowned for their journalistic vigour and integrity, web updates and drive-by analysis aren’t enough. There will always be demand for full news reports, carefully researched investigative pieces and meticulously crafted features.

The power of a front page, in print, can’t be underestimated. Last week, the front page of the Globe & Mail featured a photo of a 17-year-old female figure skater with her leg raised upright during a routine, sparking widespread furor.

The root of the issue wasn’t the shot itself, but its prominence on the front page of a widely circulated news source. Had the photo merely been included as an addendum to an online article, it wouldn’t have garnered nearly the same attention.

By tabbing it as the centerpiece of a national newspaper, the Globe spurred reaction, ignited controversy — and likely drew in more readers.

Newspapers should focus on the inherent advantages of physical copy — creative layouts that resonate on the printed page and long-form reads that address significant local issues.

Detail, scrutiny and insight are still treasured journalistic traits, especially when they’re legitimated by the history and reputation of an established paper.

Online journalism is an important medium in itself, but it has notable limitations. There’s value to posting breaking news updates and engaging readers through mediums like Twitter, but it’s impossible to provide the full scope of a story in a blurb frantically written for web hits.

Web reporting should serve mostly as a complement to print newspapers. Even in a media landscape increasingly defined by reflex and rapidity, 140 characters alone will never constitute journalism.

Nick is the Assistant Sports Editor at the Journal.

Tiffany Lam

Photo

Sometimes words just aren’t enough. No matter what state the newspaper industry is in, it’s clear that multimedia will always be an essential element in journalism.

Multimedia, specifically photos, already plays a big role in both the print and digital versions of newspapers.

More importantly, photos are vital in helping readers process information. A study lead by The Poynter Institute, confirms that photos are a dominant entry point during the digestion of printed information.

People commonly don’t have a great attention span for long stories and get lazy reading very textual content.

With the support of photos, the story immediately becomes more visually appealing and attention grabbing. It’s easier for the mind to absorb the content of a photo in a second, than a story or even a headline.

Video content is the next leg up on photography. By simply watching a short one-minute video, you can quickly learn and connect with the given story. Video is simply the most interactive; it has the ability to leave you feeling the most integrated you can be without physically being there.

Regardless of whether content is in print or online, stories will suffer without photo or video. Even though social media and digital content seem to be becoming the latest form of newscasting, multimedia still remain indispensable in the journalism industry.

Photos and videos connect and emote with the reader in ways which words wouldn’t ordinarily be able to.

In a world where technology is booming, multimedia integration in print journalism is becoming critical. While photos and multimedia themselves can’t always tell a detailed story in the way that an article would, they offer a greater multitude of ways to translate information.

In short, a picture can really be worth a thousand words.

Tiffany is the Associate Photo Editor at the Journal.

Holly Tousignant

Longform

Cries of the death of print media have long been at the forefront of many journalists’ minds, and rightfully so.

As people increasingly consume media online, newspapers have (wisely) attempted to carve a place for themselves on the web, but they’re failing to adapt in the way they should.

Most newspapers appear to have bought into the belief that adapting to an online platform means also adapting the quality and style of their coverage in favour of brevity and speed.

I’ve admittedly partaken in it myself: rushing to tweet or post a story first, and in doing so sacrificing a modicum of quality, such as letting a typo slip through. Newspapers have taken note of the public’s love of acquiring knowledge quickly and offered up Twitter-sized bites of information in response. Instead of showing us why they’re better than the material we’re already getting for free, they’ve only stooped to show us why they’re equally as good.

‘People don’t read in-depth pieces anymore,’ journalists cry, as they watch their friends share Deadspin’s 4,000+-word piece on the Manti Te’o debacle.

Whether or not that story or other popular longform blog pieces fit your definition of quality journalism, they’re proof that people will look away from Twitter for long enough to read something longer and deeper if they’re interested enough.

I don’t see myself ever paying for breaking news from any specific source. Why would I, when I can simply get it elsewhere?

There are, however, some blogs and long-form print magazines that I would consider subscribing to if they were ever to go behind a paywall.

Why? Because they’re doing what media should do and what newspapers can do if they stop trying to compete with the little guys.

Rather than producing work that could be done by anyone with luck and a laptop, they’re producing unique, thoughtful pieces, and reminding me why in a sea of media, I clicked on their publication.

Holly is the News Editor at the Journal.

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