The art of newspapers


There is a very distinct pleasure to be extracted from the reading of a print newspaper, but like most traditional fine arts, it is something that is getting lost in the modern world.

The course, leafy pages of black ink that slide so easily though the fingers is the first thing to appreciate when you sit down to have a read.

The expertly chosen font, the feverishly picked front page photo, the cleverly captioned headlines are all bolder and more authentic when seen in the flesh.

The comparison is similar to looking at a person standing in front of you or looking at a photo -on Facebook – on your phone.

The online version is an image taken of the original. They are identical; however one carries a poignant connection and a sentimental value that the other can never reproduce.

It is easier to appreciate the blood boiled arguments; sweaty speed typing and intense time chasing that took place behind closed doors to put the news in pretty little boxes beside beautiful images for your reading pleasure.

Holding the physical result of the work, you are empowered with all it represents: a finely filtered, concise and precise, summary of the society you live in and the world around you.

Appreciation of the imperative profession of journalism is lacking by the online generation.

Internet news is glanced at, glassy-eyed, for a few seconds. All the person wants is a foggy understanding of the issues- for the gossip, the giggles and of course, in case it comes up in conversation down the pub.

A commodity is only as powerful as its demand.

Fundamentally, the demand for news, like the need for food, is untouchable. Curiosity is an innate characteristic that drives us all. Unfortunately, modern society is no longer prepared to wait for its sustenance.

The era of carefully collaborated news is dissipating quickly in exchange of online breaking news, like a Sunday roast getting cast aside for a fast food burger.

There is no sensual appreciation of the news as an art form.

News you read, with blackened fingers from freshly printed pages.

Pages that smell of importance and intelligence and crinkle crisply as you navigate the broadsheet pages perilously free standing or spread out over a table or on the floor.

Finally there is no special sense that what you are holding is a piece of history: something that will be examined in the future by people looking at the past.

Documents taken from a drawer dusted off and dissected for the information, analysis and opinion that were drafted together under the duress of a ticking clock many years ago.

Every school and college in the country has a piece of parchment like paper, slowly yellowing behind a glass frame, acclaiming some former figure of greatness that once walked it’s corridors.

Most mammies have a similar set up at home for the picture of their little darling or devil lined up with the rest of the school team, running in the athletics or some other form of fickle fame that inevitably crosses the path of children making their way to adulthood.

These aging articles are not just to take pride in the achievements of families’ associated talented ones, but also to celebrate the fact that there was a time when people we know were important enough to be considered news –and if it is in a frame in the kitchen- good news.

People like to be reminded of the time when the wider community of their area recognised the gifts of those who are special to them.

On a grander scale, there are those who collect segments of news that mean something to them; scrap books of their interests.

I know a woman who has scrapbooks of all her counties sporting achievements, since she was a small girl.

My mother has a collection of my published articles slowly compiling somewhere and I have three folders, one for each year of my bachelor degree, full of funny articles that coincide with dates of monumental importance for me and my college friends.

There is a growing acceptance of the death of traditional newspapers.

Slowly but surely, like watching a relation suffering from a long and painful illness, people are beginning to detach themselves from the unwanted, but unavoidable end of print news.

It is unfortunate and I hold childish hope that this is not the end of the paper craft but I am unsure how tangible my hope may be.

Phil Graham, an old editor of The Washington Post, famously said that Journalism is the first draft of history.

I believe this to be true; furthermore, I think newspapers are an art form of our historic content.

News is just the knowledge of an event, but newspapers are an understanding of issues in context and comparison to other news from the same period.

Amidst the chaotic swirls of constant news, newspapers provide the eye of the storm. The pages are a freeze-frame of importance, daily or weekly.

Stories are placed based on their impact, significance and timing at that moment in time in the world and that is how they are remembered.

The loss of mainstream broadsheets will take with it a very unique set of skills.

In fifty years’ time will teenagers know how to maintain upright pages in the wind and will mothers frame articles for show?

Will anyone skillfully shelter under an arched paper in the rain?

Will young and old drunkenly squint at broken sentences on newspaper wrappings holding their late night chips or do the crossword with a pen, while intermittently doodling around the edges?

The idea that the next generation will be robbed of these notions makes me sad, but adaption is the key element to survival in life.

Things change and we must change with them.

Mourn the loss of what was once great and welcome the coming of the new king.

A commodity is only as powerful as its demand.


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