Print newspapers in decline, still relevant


Abby Hyken

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is rumored to be moving to mostly virtual news. However, digital news is inadequate compared to print paper.

Abby Hyken

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), an important source of news for Atlantans, is rumored to be discontinuing its print paper, with the exception of weekends. An article from Fox 5 says that people close to the newspaper, and even some of the newspaper’s editors have hinted at this big change. This change, although warranted by the increase in digital news and media, is bad news for avid newspaper readers.

Physical newspapers do not hold the same significance compared to online versions. Reading an important or shocking news story and seeing it in bold letters on a printed paper is completely different than seeing it online. Since readers are constantly bombarded with information online, seeing a surprising news story doesn’t have as great of an impact as it would seeing it printed in front of you. 

Digital news is also not tangible. There is nothing like holding a paper in front of you and being able to feel the paper under your fingers. Tapping on a screen is not the same as turning a page, it doesn’t have as great of an effect. 

With the overwhelming amount of digital news presented online, readers often miss details that they would otherwise see in a printed paper. Online stories are produced at such a rate that they can usually only give a general overview and skip details that a printed paper would cover. According to CP Communications, printed papers usually have more in-depth, feature stories than digital news sources do.

Oftentimes when people turn to digital news, they only glance at the content on their screen and don’t truly read the story. The Pew Research Center calculated the average minutes per visit for each of the top 50 news websites for October, November and December of 2020 and averaged them. The Center found that people only visited the news website for an average of 1.82 minutes. This statistic shows that when viewing digital news, readers don’t actually take in information like they would when reading it physically. Therefore, readers don’t gain as much knowledge online as they would from a print paper. 

Newspapers can also be sentimental in a way that digital news is not. You can physically save printed papers and go back to them. You can bookmark a news story online, but because of the large amounts of media we consume daily, you are likely to forget about it. However, saving an actual paper is not as easy to forget, so you’re more likely to return to a newspaper article that you found memorable (Forbes).

Furthermore, not all digital news we see online is true. Oftentimes, people get their “news” from social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook or Snapchat. The Pew Research Center found that in 2020, about half of U.S. adults (53%) got their news from social media. However, these platforms are not always reliable. A new study by three MIT scholars found that false news spreads quicker on Twitter than real news does. This shows that while there may be greater quantities of news found online, it could very likely be untrue. However, this does not occur with print papers because they are reviewed more than quickly written digital news. 

Printed papers have been a staple in American society since 1690 and should not end now. Digital news cannot compare to a physical newspaper, and we cannot let newspaper companies fall to the Internet. Reading a print paper is an emotional, memorable experience compared to glancing at a story online.