Last week, I was reading a really interesting article about Adam Vincenzini, Senior Consultant at Paratus, who has given himself the challenge to live without newspapers for a year. I’m sure some of you reading this will think that’s an easy task with the ability to get any source of news on the internet. Whilst I’m kind of in that camp – some major moments in time, including Michael Jackson’s death, have happened through Twitter – I’m still a massive advocate for ‘the tangible’ so I was interested to read his thoughts.
Although I am pretty much obsessed (in the best possible way) with Twitter; it is the last thing I check before I go to bed and the first thing I look at in the morning; I still think that there is room for newspapers in society. Whenever I hear “print is dead” I roll my eyes in what I consider to be a very close-minded generalisation.
Of course, there are people that haven’t bought a newspaper in – probably – years and use the internet above anything else to find out what’s happening in the world. But I still think there is a massive part of society that doesn’t have a smartphone, has no idea what Twitter is and frankly, couldn’t care less what ‘social network’ actually means. As controversial as it may be to the SXSW generation, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the aforementioned media consumers… plus, if they were all on Twitter, we’d be seeing the ‘fail whale’ a lot more than we wanted to!
Anyway, back to Adam… he started his paper-less journey on 1st January and wrote a blog post earlier this month looking at what he’d learnt so far. Here are his main headlines (excuse the unintentional pun):
It’s harder to come up with tabloid-esque headlines: He realised that headlines online are often linked to SEO results and are very different to the ones we see on the front page.
‘Did you see that…?’: He realised that although online news is more instant, it is also infinite, meaning it’s easy to miss things. Many times throughout the year, he has found himself stating something ‘amazing’ before being interrupted by someone saying, “Yeah, that was in the paper yesterday.”
Newspaper readers are enjoying something special: He feels left out of the commuter group with their heads buried in the Metro every morning. He described it as everyone being invited to a party that he can’t go to.
Awareness of mainstream trends…or lack thereof: He realised that, although he was never quite Gok Wan, not having the weekend supplements meant he had no idea what was hot and what was not.
He became disconnected with sports he used to love: There is always the argument that newspapers need sport more than sport needs newspapers. But Adam found that not having that ritual of turning to the back page meant he equally wasn’t driven to check out what was happening each morning.
A change in the decision-making process: He used to make impulsive decisions based on things he read in newspapers, now he uses human recommendations, and to some extent, Twitter.
Celebrity ho-hum-ness: He was never into celebrities and their gossip but now he really has no time for the ‘shock’ journalism adopted to announce the latest misdemeanour of the likes of Wayne Rooney.
Online news is more distracting during work hours: The morning fill of news (see the head-buried-in-Metro point) makes you feel ‘up to speed’. Without that, it’s easier to get distracted at working looking at Twitter and other websites bearing the latest news.
Despite all of this, Adam doesn’t profess to love newspapers and said he wouldn’t decide whether to read them again until the experiment was over. What I liked about this was his open-minded attitude to why there is still a place for newspapers. There’s no big theory about consumer trends and MOSAIC groups, instead simple points about why newspapers can be valuable. Equally, he talked about reasons why he dislikes them – mostly because of celebrity headlines.
I think everything he has said is the reason why there is still a place for them… until there is absolutely no need then why get rid of them altogether?! For me, the key is utilising them in a way that still works for the people that read them, whilst also embracing new media channels. Plus, I’m not sure my iPhone will ever be as satisfying with a cup of coffee at a café on a Sunday morning as a newspaper is.