Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

What's wrong with the newspaper?

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I don't read the paper.

But I am enthusiastic about the news, and follow it daily. I'm a 19-year-old first-year Creative Communications student at Red River College. The news excites me. It motivates me. It terrifies me.

The information I can find on my iPhone continuously trumps my desire to flick through flimsy pages, the printed words inevitably marking their territory on my fingers in slippery, chalky black ink. I have yet to figure out the proper way to fold a newspaper, the way the sharply dressed businessmen do as they kill time in Starbucks on their lunch breaks. I'm not a gawky person, or so I like to tell myself, but unless I have a generous amount of table space, I'm not reading the paper.

I don't read the paper because it's big and cumbersome. I don't read the paper because I'm not a fan of my hands looking like I just spent seven minutes in heaven with Iron Man. I don't read the paper because the two-column story on the first page has already been summed up on Twitter in 140 characters.

So, because I don't like inky fingers and I haven't yet mastered the art of newspaper folding, am I lazy and apathetic? Quite the contrary.

Every day we are bombarded with hundreds of messages, each their own tiny, optimistic entity, hoping to hit home, and stay there. We don't want to read a page-long article about that time that mayor texted that dude while he was driving that car. We want the news. Bite-sized. For free. And so we go to the place where the melting pot is warm and the bread chunks are crispy: the Internet.

Multimedia is an absolute game changer for the big, scary world of journalism. As a freelance videographer, I know firsthand the impact a visual can have on a person. There is no better source for trending, breaking information than Twitter. We warn our friends about the accident we just passed and subsequent traffic delays on Garry Street through Facebook. We (well, you know, some of us) Instagram photos of Justin Bieber when he's in town. Renowned news outlets across the globe are online and have intuitive, user-friendly apps to boast. We listen online. We watch online. We communicate online. We are still consuming news, just not the way we used to.

But let's be honest. We wouldn't have any of this on-the-spot news without good, credible sources: the honest, dedicated people who work tirelessly to make sure we, as Winnipeggers, know what the hell's going on in this city. We need the news, and we need people, not Twitter, not Facebook, to find it. This is why there's hope. This is why I haven't given up on journalism.

Yes, sure, I'm one girl sitting in her room, tickling the whites of her iMac's keyboard. I mean "we" as in young people. Middle-aged people. Elderly people. "We" as in students. "We" as in working class. "We" as in everyday people who can never find enough hours in a day, but have an Internet connection and a desire to stay aware.

Many of us are online. And many of us no longer read the paper. And because of this, seven extremely talented, bright, undeserving people, one of which is a role model to me whether she knows it or not, lost their jobs in the Free Press newsroom on Tuesday. So does this mean that I, as a young person who perhaps spends too much of her time on Twitter instead of reading the paper, am responsible for what happened this week? Maybe. But perhaps in doing so I'm also paving the way for the future of journalism. These layoffs only further reinforce the sentiment that journalism is a dying profession, instead of reinforcing what it should be: that it is an evolving one.

True, fewer people are reading the newspaper compared to twenty years ago. But what about the folks who aren't privileged enough to have access to the web? The people who don't know how to or want to use a computer? How about the thousands of men and women who, unlike myself, just like the way the paper feels in their hands -- tangible news at their fingertips? We need the newspaper, and we cannot get rid of it. But perhaps we're just starting to need it in a different way.

Journalism is not dying. It is simply moving house.

 

Stefanie is a first-year Creative Communications student at Red River College, a freelance videographer with a fiery passion for good music and new media and founder and camera gal at Little Bird Films (littlebirdfilms.ca). She blogs at stefspeaks.com and her Twitter handle is @stefspeaks.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 23, 2012 A8

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