Each time my newspaper delivery runs late, as it did last Saturday morning, and I’m forced to the Web for my early dose of news, I’m reminded how reading the news online pales compared to reading it in newsprint.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not some aging dead-ender who wishes it was 1995 and not 2016 and this Web thing would go away. I’ve been an online journalist for 20 years. I get most of my news from the Web as it flows to my desktop, my tablet, my phone, and now my watch. Is the cabbie playing news radio? I listen. Walking through the POLITICO newsroom I inhale the news from the TV screens that cover the walls. When it comes to news, I’m an ocean that refuses no river.
But when it comes to immersion—when I really want the four winds of news to blow me deeper comprehension—my devotion to newsprint is almost cultistic. My eyes feel about news the way my ears feel about music driven from a broken pair of speakers—distorted, grating, and insufferable. Reading online, I comprehend less and I finish fewer articles than I do when I have a newspaper in hand. Online, I often forget why I clicked a page in the first place and start clicking on outside links until I’m tumbling through cyberspace like a marooned astronaut.
As a more rudimentary form of media, newsprint has the power to focus me…