in 6. asides

Why a newspaper will always be a better read

Reading a paper based newspaper is cool in its way, but can seem like a step back for the y-generation. Not only is the news arguably one day old, the whole delivery method is outdated as well. Also, paper based news papers are usually politically and nationaly flavored, giving me the feeling that I’m skipping the facts. However, newspapers have one awesome feature. When you read a newspaper, you need to focus. It’s not distracting from work like reading from the web and quickly switch between programs. This, is something that is more important than I thought initially. It helps us focus and is less distracting. But that brings me back to the problem that a newspaper is always flavored in a particular way, so how to replicate this with an internet based method? Meet electronic books and Calibre, an iTunes-like application for your book management. It copies all your favorite contents and the latest versions of them on your electronic reading device. I will tell more about how it works in a moment.

I remember having a discussion a few years back with the editor-in-chief of the Dutch newspaper ‘de Volkskrant’, together we met with employees of the biggest Korean news paper, the Chosun Ilbo. We talked about the future of the newspaper industry. I walked away from that conversation learning that subscription rates were dwelling and I considered newspaper something for old people. Naturally, as I want to keep up to date, I started to indulge myself with background stories and opinion pieces of different Internet based news sources. It’s all good. A few weeks ago, I was on my way to buy an iPad together with a friend, in a cab, while twittering (yes I multitask all day long). He started a discussion about the heights and lows of Internet news versus “old-fashioned” newspapers. Yes, the old discussion about dead trees versus high-speed Internet information kicked off again in all its glory! However, I gained a new perspective during that debate on newspaper consumption. His arguments reached beyond that we need to pay journalists through old fashioned subscription fees and people, we also went beyond the newspaper lifestyles discussion, where newspapers are part of a ‘posh coffee drinking ritual’ during the day. No, the newspaper learns us to focus on one thing at the same time. Besides, the actual paper also has other functions, for example when as scrap paper when painting the walls of your house. But finally, he argued, newspapers have another important feature; a newspaper has a beginning and an end, contrary to the Internet. The last point stuck to me most. How to read the news that you are interested in but also in the method that won’t occupy you every day all day long. I find myself refreshing my feeds every idle moment behind my computer. I use a program called “Netnewswire” – allowing me to aggregate different news sites into one convenient window. However, repetitive refreshing of Internet browser windows is not very productive, but very addictive. Even worse, popular research have said that Google, Email and Twitter are making us arguably distracted and dumber. Therefore, I want to create a habit of doing this multitasking behind computer. I got myself an excellent electronic book from a friend, that I will use to read longer pieces on. Whilst doing that, I will be refraining myself from refreshing my news feeds all day long. The setup is simple, I use a software called calibre to manage the books and articles on my electronic book. When I stumble on an interesting article, I will mark it so I will read it later. I could do the same with emails etc. but that exceeds my intention. The interesting articles that I mark appear on my electronic book automatically. Not only that, I can set my favorite news sites to appear on a device as well. In my setup, I have chosen a particular newspaper do like for general news, and have now find a way to get my specific sources like starred Google reader news and articles besides that. Now, not only am I not multitasking only long to read the latest news. I have combined my personal news of interest, in a method that allows me to finish the news of that particular day. So much for old-fashioned delivery methods, and hearing only one side of the story.