In a society increasingly dependent on technology, print journalism – and print at large – is an industry at risk.
Our collective technology addiction means an alarming amount of people skim the headlines through Facebook or Twitter, but don’t have the attention span to sit and read a long-form article, or anything beyond 200 words. It is not uncommon for readers to criticize journalists in the comment section; however, the criticisms are increasingly based on assumptions, a snap judgment made from reading the headline, rather than the informed opinion of someone who has read the entirety of a piece.
This shift comes at a time when the public's media literacy is at an all-time low; an era of "fake news" in which many cannot differentiate between a news article and an opinion piece. Under one of my recent columns was a comment exclaiming "this is so biased!" And yet, that is the point of opinion writing: to pick a side.
Due to the accessible nature of technology, anyone can become an author of their own blog or website; they can do so without responsibility for fact checking or quoting direct sources. This adds further fuel to the fire, when anyone can claim they are an expert on a topic, many readers are unable to decide what is a reliable source of news or information.
With our political climate becoming increasingly divisive, the amount of extremist blogs and hate-fuelled publications has increased as well.
Print journalism is a medium with several levels of accountability for the journalists working within the industry, a code of ethics and expectations. Print journalism allows a level of connection between the reader and the writer. It allows a level of connection between the community and the publication. For a small business owner or local charity to see their work or event in print is a special experience, an experience I believe is tainted when presented online.
There is something special about physically holding and reading news that is incomparable to the fast-paced nature of the online world. Print allows people to take their time and absorb the information they are presented with.
Studies have suggested that the pace at which we are presented with news online and through social media, particularly when the news is negative, can be detrimental to our mental health. One person cannot take on the emotional burden of hundreds of sad stories a day.
Print journalism creates a community, provides reliability, and presents news at a pace that is more sustainable. It creates and connects community and promotes human connection; something people can read and discuss together as opposed to being alone with a screen.
None of this is to say technology is evil; it allows us to connect to people and ideas we may not have been confronted with otherwise. Technology allows us to share quickly and receive feedback almost instantly. I can only hope we collectively value accuracy and connection more than speed and convenience.
Jennifer Hamilton is a local student and writer.