For years, every time I make a comment about how my wife and I subscribe to and read the daily newspaper, I always get a smattering of comments like “They still have daily newspapers?” or “I get all my news from social media now.”
I mean, I get it. There are more ways than ever to get your daily news these days.
The proliferation of news distribution is rampant.
But recently, a couple of things have me thinking maybe the daily newspaper will make a comeback.
Consider the following:
- Fake news bonanza. With all the fake news hub-bub, our world needs mainstream media and journalists (who write for newspapers) now more than ever. Think about all the people who read inaccurate news or information during this year’s election cycle. Newspapers (by and large) don’t contain inaccurate information. Sure, they make mistakes once in a while, but they are not out to deceive or push an agenda. They are out to inform (even if they do sometimes have a slight agenda).
- The social media news bubble. Thanks to algorithms and Facebook sorcery, you only see the news and information Facebook wants you to–or, news and information that is similar to what you’ve clicked on in the past. That’s a little dangerous from a news and information perspective. It only reinforces what you already know or believe or seek out–it’s not necessary broadening your horizons or introducing you to new viewpoints or information.
Frank Strong, author of the Sword & the Script blog, summed it up rather well:
I’ve written about this before, but one of the biggest reasons I read the newspaper is that it DOES introduce me to new and different ideas, stories and content. Stuff I would not normally find on my own online.
The newspaper remains my best content discovery tool.
For example, last week I read the following stories:
- Jon Tevlin’s column (one of my favorite Strib reads) on how key DFLers acted unethically re: new suites at U.S. Bank Stadium.
- Chelsea Harvey’s story (which was picked up by the Strib) about how the prairie is losing millions of acres to farmland each year.
- And finally, Amelia Rayno’s article about how to be a good party guest
Those are stories and viewpoints I would not usually find in my Facebook feed. And, they were all stories that got me thinking about topics I would not normally think about.
Meanwhile, on Facebook, I saw these kinds of stories on that same day:
- Politoco story talking about Trump’s cabinet selections
- CNN story on how Trump wants to close up the internet
- Onion story about guy with two computer screens
All reasonable stories. All stories I would normally be at least somewhat interested in. But, that’s the problem. They are all stories I would NORMALLY be interested in.
I rarely see any stories in my Facebook feed that challenge my thinking (which I get in the paper routinely).
I rarely see stories in my Facebook feed that introduce me to something new (and I’m not talking about a new technology or social media tool–see the Chelsea Harvey story above).
And I rarely see stories in my Facebook feed that allow me to see the world through a different prism (which again, I get in the daily paper all the time–see this op-ed in the Strib about the perspective of a dishwasher interacting with a homeless man at a library in St. Paul).
I’m not sure daily newspapers are destined to make a comeback, but I sure think the environment is ripe for it.
Right now, the internet seems to be more of a bubble than a place of discovery. And that makes me kinda sad–because at one point in the not-so-distant past, it WAS a great place for discovery.
Not so much right now.