My Afternoon with the Newspaper

Saturday I took a step back – from my laptop – to catch up with the newspaper. I chose the New York Times and forked over $2.12, a small price to pay for what turned out to be three hours of reading, writing and ideating. Each time I wanted to pull out my iPhone, I dug deeper into Sections A and B, determined to have an uninterrupted afternoon with what Devin Coldewey, a CrunchGear blogger, called “delayed media,” aka the ink newspaper.

Delayed media is 1/3 of the concept that is part of the “present media triumvirate” theory coined by Coldewey. Helen Thomas once told me that the benefit of the print newspaper is that you end up reading much more than you would have if you were searching for something online. I found that to hold true during my experiment. I read about how labor shortages in China will make their exports more expensive and I learned that Citigroup is about to launch a PR campaign aimed at revamping their image with Wall Street and Washington. Neither of which I got from my Twitter feeds and the cable news loop that I typically keep on during the days.

While I love the newspaper (I starting delivering them in fifth grade), they haven’t kept up with the pace of the web and so they haven’t kept up with me. Even though I have worked to keep them in my life, I know that the average newsreader hasn’t. And I don’t blame them. But I am trying to figure out a way to apply the best of traditional media (epitomized by the delayed media) and combine it with the best tactics and tools of the new.

While I know this isn’t an easy problem to solve, I have wondered what else a major entity like the New York Times could offer that would might help to define journalism as a value-driven product.  They might try this on for size…

  • Make a complete roadmap for delayed media’s transition to the web
  • Establish a new social compact with consumers and clear value propositions to restore broken trust
  • Turn consumers into customers to keep them more informed with original content, aggregation strategy and contextual follow-up.

Who knows – starting there might actually put us on the path to building a new news value proposition, one that will be strong enough to weather the economy, recruit new talent and define journalism as a value-driven product. Something worth the $2.12.

Reported by: Erica Anderson

Edited by: Garon Wade

9 comments

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  1. Debi Anderson

    I will never give up my Sunday mornings with the newspaper. I never have thought about it but Helen Thomas’ comment is so true. I do read more than just the headline news.

  2. joy

    Interesting post :). My grandpa has his name on the tube components’ patent for the color TV back in 1959. His follow-up project for RCA never got off the ground…you’re watching the news (or just don’t haave time to watch TV in the morning), so you go up to the TV, push a button, and out prints the full top news articles of the day, with advertisements on the back. Take it with you to read at work, etc. Pretty revolutionary for 60 years ago! 🙂

    Personal dreams- take a cell pic of an article and automatically interpret the next to read later.

    Also, electronic access to copy/paste from your DVR to you IPhone/IPod? Missed something at home, watch it remotely, etc.

  3. Scott Henrichsen

    I think that a reason why one might read more in the paper than online is because most people already spend an overwhelming amount of time on their digital devices anyway, so the paper, by contrast, almost seems like a pleasant respite. Also, when one is online, there are many more opportunities for distraction, both in the form of online ads & banners on the site you’re reading, as well as what other sites/email/chatrooms one might choose to have open simultaneously. You already know I think the paper is a superior form of news to the web. Delayed it may be, but the advantages of thoroughness far outweigh the advantage of timeliness, in my opinion.

  4. James S. Walker

    Hey Erica, You’ve definitely given me the inspiration to give the newspaper another go.

    I’d love to see the newspaper take on a more participatory style when covering local news and also cultural pieces. Many of love blogs because they provide personal perspective. Would be great to marry the two with citizens contributing pieces of their everyday perspective
    takes to a story- One journo and one citizen take on an issue.

  5. eileen jaeger

    We are now on vacation qnd I miss the two daily papers we get at home. We do have the computer, but the paper is too much of a habit for me. Keep on with your investigating, Erica. enjoy reading your pieces. Love you.

  6. Lynn Bayman

    I’m traveling in India for 5 weeks and don’t have access to email very often.
    I wouldn’t know anything without the local newspapers. Even though most of the
    news is local, there is always a section for international news. I still love
    to read a newspaper!!!

  7. Andrew Mirsky

    Great blog post Erica! I totally agree. You sit down and you leaf through the paper and it’s true, as Helen says, you read about things you wouldn’t have even looked for online. An example: Another story in the NY Times this week that hasn’t seemed to get a lot of online traction (or maybe I’m living under a rock?), is the story about the scandal involving the recent book about the Hiroshima bombing.

  8. Peter McCabe

    I agree with Scott H (3). The newspaper is a pleasant respite, and I read the NYT, at least, for depth, details, expansion and the like. Also, and I think this is very important, irony. In our current US politicrisis, whether it is politician’s games on healthcare, the debt ceiling, ethanol consuming 48% of our corn output, or whatever, a newspaper article seems better able to develop and expand the ironies.

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