How are you reading this column? Is there an actual newspaper in your hand, or are you scanning my words on some glowing screen?
Reading is good. It’s a workout for our brains. It allows us to see the world through different perspectives. But does it matter how we read?
That question is something you need to consider, because the times, they are a changin’. Just recently, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette began phasing out their weekly paper deliveries. Instead, they’ll be sending subscribers an “e-paper.” Heck, they’ll even loan you an iPad, if you’ll stick with your subscription.
There are a few positives involved with this: Paper is made from trees. So, the less newspapers we print, the less trees we cut down. Also, they’ll be more content available on the electronic editions, along with color pictures. Oh, and how could I forget — you no longer have to worry about your paper getting wet!
There are plenty of counter points, though, even to the “Save the Trees” arguments (the rare-earth metals used to make tablets are, well, rare, and also highly toxic), but there’s no bigger rebuttal than reading comprehension.
According to a survey taken at the Washington Post, “Over 92% of participants said they concentrate best when reading a hard copy.” In other words, if you’re reading something on paper it’s easier for you to digest.
And that’s important, especially in today’s world of “fake” news. Creating “fake” news stories is substantially easier online. All those wacky Facebook articles, they can be copied and pasted and spread around to millions at the click of a button.
As a result, our culture has become overloaded with false information. Digital words are cheap. They’re easy. And even worse — they might be lying to you.
Which leads me back to the good, old-fashioned newspaper. The sturdy hardback book. A magazine, for Pete’s sake! The words on those pages are not cheap or easy.
Trust me. I know.
I’ve spent the better part of three years trying to get my words on those pages. There’s a huge process involved with getting something into print. Editors. Fact checkers. Revisions. Draft after draft…
See what I’m saying? The actual paper you hold in your hands, it matters in a way that digital words never will. Now, let me pause and say the Dem-Gaz’s stories will most likely still go through the same process as before. Hopefully, we won’t lose any quality. But we might. And that’s the scary part.
Maybe there’s no stopping it. Maybe the “truth” is something we will simply have to redefine in our ever-evolving world of screens, but y’all, listen, there is power in paper.
If for nothing else, paper is a way to slow down, a practice we could all benefit from. You know, take a walk out to the driveway in the morning, sit down at the kitchen table, cup of coffee in hand, and just read the newspaper. Sounds good, don’t it?
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.