5 Reasons You Should Keep Reading a Newspaper

Disclaimer: I’ve been reading newspapers almost daily since I was 7, and I know that puts me in an increasing minority. But I think that stubborn determination also puts me in an interesting position to comment on the relative importance of newspaper-reading vs. other forms of consuming news.

So, here are 5 reasons you should keep reading a newspaper (even if you also read newspapers online).

#5: No Batteries or Network Connectivity Required
Newspapers resolve well in many different kinds of light and do not require batteries to be readable. The WSJ app on my iPhone requires network connectivity and a reasonably full charge.

#4: Takes a Licking and Keeps on Ticking
I can shove my newpaper in my bag without any regard for breaking it, ripping it, or otherwise losing the information in the daily paper.

#3: The right newspaper is still relevant days later
I don’t always get to the newspaper on the same day. What’s interesting to me on the days when I read a 2- or 3-day old newspaper is that the perspectives still seem relevant. The Wall Street Journal (and the New York Times) do a great job at reporting the news while offering their own spin on things by the depth of the coverage that they offer and the variety of topics they cover.

#2: Newspapers (at least the good ones) still drive stories and are the source of content or other content-starved publishers.
Whether or not you agree with the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, in a fragmented world they still deliver millions of readers and provide better written, more insightful commentary than many other sources.

And the #1 reason you should keep reading a newspaper: they don’t have enough space to put in all the stories.
This is a crucial point for the relevance of newspapers, and of editorial sources in general. There is not enough room in print for all of the stories they might like to print in the Wall Street Journal, so the end product that made it to print has to have value. Whether the value is due to the story angle, the corporate perspective of Fox News, or the collective editorial wisdom of the publisher and editorial board, there were a limited number of things that were worth publishing that day. They are more valuable to know of than the millions of things you could be reading in the endless, undifferentiated space of the Internet.

Bonus reason #0: Your support of news organizations helps give them the ability to report on stories they find relevant. Even in a world where there is no physical newspaper distribution (yes, we’re going to get there eventually) it will still matter that the content is worth reading. Paywalls exist so that quality content can be supported — it’s not the only means of building quality content, but it is one we know where the economics work.

Is It Linking, Copying, or Stealing? (Or Just Commentary)

Yesterday’s article “Color This Area of the Law Gray” by Daniel Grant, discusses the current state of avant-garde infringement. “Appropriationists”, Grant writes, are artists who publicly state that they are copying are and reusing it in the service of art for the public good. This is not a new idea — artists have been stealing from each other in good and bad faith for hundreds of years — but the internet and digital copying methods make the law a bit hazy here.

Lawyer John Koegel states in the article, “…the use of a copyrighted image is transformative based on the ordinary lay observer’s sense of if the new work is different and how different it is.” Is linking to a WSJ article merely stealing? Or is it an extension of the need to tell stories?

I believe the point of blogging, among other things, is to inform people of things they might not otherwise know. The sheer overload of information that we face — from screens we view from morning until night — leaves us searching for ways to organize the world.

And the way that we organize that world is different for each and every brain (see John Medina’s Brain Rules for more…). This raises an interesting philosophical point whether “copying is in the eye of the beholder” is in fact a physiological reflection of the different ways in which different people “see” the world.

Obviously there is a bright line between physically copying and republishing an article from the WSJ and linking to it as I discuss what I think it means. But at the margins that’s a pretty hazy difference. Keep on sharing and publishing (and give credit where credit is due) and you will make new connections, inform your friends, and maybe learn something new every day.

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