Around the world, social media commands a huge segment of our collective mindset—to the point, in fact, where many seem to feel that words on paper ultimately may be no more. I’m willing to admit that that very expectation someday might become reality.
But the more I see of how electronic communication is going through its own success-and-failure march to try to capture dominance, the more I notice how our print media not only is holding its own but gaining renewed recognition that words on paper definitely have not lost their appeal.
While it’s obvious that email, Twitter and the seemingly never-ending array of other social-media start-ups have made their mark, and will continue to do so, there seems to be renewed strength among small, niche publications, like ours, that continue to demonstrate the inescapable truth that many still are drawn to actually reading a newspaper.
The more people I talk to the more I hear gripes about the proliferation of digitized communication that, frankly, many of us have grown to simply ignore.
A number of the organizations with which we hold longtime relationships have, over the last few years, jumped on the email bandwagon. Although I’d be the first to admit I didn’t always rush to open every printed piece that arrived via our postal carrier (memories come to mind of Steve Martin’s line, “The phone books are here, the phone books are here!” in that hilarious film “The Jerk” of the late 1970s), I know those newsletters and other print pieces at least had a better shelf life when my first reaction wasn’t to press delete on my keyboard.
Someone came into our office the other day and casually began thumbing through a few of the bound volumes we have of early 1990s Wrangler News—Warner Wrangler as it was known in those days, and, by many, still is.
Watching the reaction as that person marveled over those slightly worn copies, wondering out loud what the sequel to some of those stories might be today, reminiscing about the events of two decades ago—actually holding in their hands an anthology of our community’s history—well, it was a happily eye-opening experience.
Somewhat surprisingly, Tracy Doren, our publisher, mentioned the other day that even her two youngest, a girl 14 and a boy 12, still like the feeling they get from reading in our newspaper the stories about kids they know, seeing their photos, perhaps understanding that what they’re holding in their hands is not a transitory, here-today-gone-tomorrow point in time to be relevant only in the moment but a tangible, real world—feel good, if you will—experience.
I’m sure we all—at least most of us, that is—recognize the many ways in which the Digital Age has improved our lives. But I believe there is now and likely will be in the foreseeable future a place for us to benefit from, to learn from, to support, to enjoy those magnificent words and pictures that come to us on paper. Delete button not included.