Online news versus traditional news

Natalie Brink, Staff Reporter

I was standing in the kitchen with the local paper in my hands. I tried to flip to the next page smoothly, as I had seen in movies of days past, but the entire newspaper came apart in my hands. My parents looked at me in total disbelief. How is it possible that their 15-year-old daughter — part of her school’s newspaper staff — never learned to open a newspaper properly? Well, it isn’t entirely my fault.

According to the Pew Research Center, newspapers have been on a 28-year long decline in weekday circulation. In the United States, advertising revenue has been falling, dropping 10 percent in recent years. Most members of my generation cannot relate to black and white television shows where a man sits down at breakfast, thumbing through the morning paper. I’m writing these words knowing full well Vandegrift doesn’t have a printed newspaper and these words I’m typing will never be printed.

Some journalists see these statistics as signs of the end-times, but why? Keeping (most) printed papers around just doesn’t make sense anymore. Why wait a day or a week to read a broad collection of news when one can simply go online and look up news that pertains to them? Mourning over the loss of an obsolete technology seems to be rooted in an intense nostalgia, a nostalgia that younger generations can’t relate to. Soon, a new way of accessing local, national and world news will stamp out physical newspapers. And that’s not a bad thing.

Let’s say you have a friend. Said friend lives in Spain, while you live in the United States. Let’s just say Spain is currently being overrun with wildfires. Why would you want to wait for a day or a week to find out if fire has spread to your friend’s city? Does a physical newspaper’s smell or feel take precedence over knowing if your friend is in danger or not? Online news is fast, and constantly being updated. One can now read coverage of an event almost as soon as it happens.

With an online newspaper, you can follow pretty much any obscure topic. Whether you are invested in the Italian election or trophy hunting in Africa, there’s a pretty big guarantee that some newspaper is covering it. And you can get the news for free, instead of paying for a subscription.

Despite this, some people are still skeptical. I can’t say I blame them, though. This new, quickened atmosphere can lead to sloppy journalism. Falsities can spread quicker than ever before, and they almost always have negative ramifications on society. Anyone can become a journalist or start an online news “source” to preach their own opinions rather than actual news. Even reputable papers make mistakes they wouldn’t have if they slowed down.

While this is scary no doubt, it does not undercut the value of online news. Consumers of news have to be careful which sources they trust. Nobody can blindly trust what they read. With the right precautions, “fake news” doesn’t have to be a threat. But the work shouldn’t fall squarely on the shoulders of media consumers. When a frenzied journalist gets caught up in the moment and reports untruths as real news, they should fix their mistake as soon as they realize it. It is vitatial they take action right away, for more people are exposed to a post every second it remains up. But their actions shouldn’t stop there. Journalists must also work diligently to correct the effects of their mistake, however hard it may be.

As physical newspapers fade away, everyone has to work hard to ensure that emphasis on speed does not uspurp emphasis on good journalism. A vehement march away from old ways should not deter people still clinging to their memories of their childhood. As a collective whole, we should embrace this new form of news, and work to overcome its pitfalls to fully enjoy its convenience.