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Does the Internet Equal the End of reading?

does the advent of new technology mean the end of reading from a newspaper?

I’m sure you’ve heard statistics over recent years that American teens are failing basic literacy tests in school. Now, you could argue that it’s the teacher’s fault for kids not learning to read (though teachers were able to teach people to read n the past...), or you could postulate that it is how children now are taught to live their lives that makes reading from the printed page less important.
This of this example: with cell phones you can talk and talk and talk to anyone, even if you’re not near a land line, and if you want to save money on the phone bill, you can text message friends. Granted, that’s type, so people have to be able to comprehend words, but I’m sure text messages are seldom grammatically correct (and how many acronyms can be used for phrases to same your fingers from typing on a cell phone, which allow people to get an idea across without actually having to construct proper sentences?), so the art of writing well, or understanding proper english, can easily be lost.
It makes me think of how cellular phones have so inundated American lives that it’s frightening. Go to the airport, see people on the phone. On the last flight I was on I saw people making calls to someone when we were delayed in take-off three times; I saw a flight attendant just about yell at a person to turn off their phone because it was not supposed to be on when the airplane was about to take off. and of course, once the plane landed, because people could get their carry-on bags from the overhead bins, people were making phone calls to people, telling them “we’ve just landed.” Is telling them that really necessary? I had to call my ride once I got my luggage, because they were waiting for me in the call phone parking area of the airport. But right when you get off the plane? Is that really necessary?
But wait, that’s just an airplane example. I heard a news story that cell phones have become so necessary in teenager’s lives, because they need to be able to contact anyone at any moment to help them out of a jam. That doesn’t sound so bad, but in the news story, I heard that teens in a career meeting at their high school with their guidance counselor, would not know how to answer a question, so they’d call their parents to help them say the right answer.
Yes, they call their parents when asked a question on how they should answer. No lie.
I’ve seen ads on television where a child is asking their parents for their own cell phone, and parents keep saying no because it’s too expensive (the ad is for less expensive phones they can buy for their children). All I think whenever I see that ad, is that if a child asked me for a phone, I’d say no. Because they shouldn’t be getting a hold of anyone at any time. They can use the phone at home.
Now, I was raised strictly, had a 10:30 curfew when I was 17, and could go out one night on a weekend. But I never asked about making a phone call, and I could call people when I was at home (just avoid long distance calls). I think the rules I was given were too strict (especially when one of the weekend nights I’d work, and they wouldn’t let me go out the other nigh... you know, with that 11:30 curfew, months before I was leaving for college), but I can’t understand why any parent would actually purchase a separate phone for their child. They’re a minor. They can use the parent’s phone. The kid doesn’t like it? Too bad. A parent isn’t supposed to give a child everything a parent is entitled to, when their child is exactly that — a child. Cell phones are a newer technology (newer the personal computers in the home), and we act like everyone needs to have one surgically implanted into their hand so that anyone can talk to anyone at any time ever. Ut’s a little over the top.
Enough about phones and communication. What about news, or being able to read a newspaper? I know teens don’t pay much attention to news (unless it’s entertainment news, of course), but adults want to know what’s going on in the world. Newspapers are good for that, right? Well, sure, but they report on news from as recent as the night before (since they need time for printing and distribution). Why bother waiting for that when you can either read the articles on the Internet, or more easily, watch the drive-by media, I mean, the 24 hour news channels that exist (I think I see like 5 or 6 channel choices for news when I scroll through the cable choices). Even if you don’t have cable, all the major networks even have news shows a few times a day (morning, some at noon, after the work day at later at night). Why even bother getting a newspaper when you can just turn on your TV and flick to a news channel?
When I do any research for any editorial of my own, I usually don’t look to newspapers (well, I look to newspapers when I’m out of town and someone has a newspaper delivered that I can read for free, especially when I don’t have access to the high speed Internet access I have at my office), but I look to the Internet for my sources — I might find a news article on the Internet I can reference for my work, but what do I need to go out any buy a copy of a newspaper for, when I can just use my keyboard and type in a few key words for a Google search?
Now, I keep giving examples of myself for this, what do I read, how do I work, what do I need... and that’s probably because I don’t have online access right now and I don’t know what to search for on the Internet for information about the reading habits of people. I can just look around me and see that newspaper journalists (possibly in part because their sales are dropping) are in much smaller numbers than the number of television journalists out there, where it’s more likely a television cast will send a television journalist to other countries to report the news than a newspaper would. Thanks to the invention of television, and the advent of the Internet as we know it, technology has pushed us farther and farther away from the mediums we have known to love — like writing on a printed page.
Even take cc&d magazine. Because Internet access is free for access to Scars Publications at http://scars.tv, the subscription list for electronic issues is fifteen times larger than the circulation of print copies, and people who aren’t subscribers have access to these magazines as well, so the number of online readers is exponentially higher than for print issues. I’ve embraced technology and Internet access with cc&d since 1995, but I still love the print copies of the magazine, and I refuse to let that die. And yeah, you can see the print issues as PDF files online too, but there’s a beauty in the printed page that far exceed whatever a web page could give you.
And yeah, Scars Publications has an Internet radio station (SIR Radio), but I’m not going to read issues for audio broadcast of magazines. If people don’t want to pay for a print copy, fine (be that way). But you better at least be able a read the magazine (even if it’s only online), and not depend on me to do it for you.
And that’s the thing I think journalists and writers worry about — the fact the people are just looking for sound bytes of information from places like MSNBC (and I know it’s MicroSoftNBC, but whenever I say that I think “Multiple Sclerosis NBC...”), and that with technology speeding towards people so quickly nowadays, people won’t have the time to read the printed page. Newspapers are evidence of that. It’s consoling to think that people congregate in bookstores now (because places like Barnes & Noble or Borders made little caf├ęs selling coffee in their stores to lure people in as a place to hang out), and I can’t speak for the successes of the magazine industry, but I think journalists worry about the loss of the older medium like the newspaper.
If nothing else, the feel of a newspaper is different from a book of a glossy magazine (just don’t caress the stuff too long and get the ink onto your hands). These are sensations that people lose out on by being glued in front of their computer for an extra half hour to get their news.
But honestly, I’m the first to tell you there’s a convenience in getting material instantaneously online (and it’s cheaper), but a large part of me still prefers reading things from a page instead. But the thing is, with new generations and new technologies, those old ideas fade away. I mean, I didn’t have cell phone when I grew up (duh, they didn’t exist), so when I lives as a single person in Chicago I didn’t use a cell phone to get a hold of any friends. We left messages and came up with plans on our land lines (we called land lines our phone back in those days), and I was still able to get a hold of everyone I needed to, and I still was able to enjoy everything in my life. I didn’t need to text message my friends, or have my cell phone at my side at all times to make sure that I’d never be alone.
But yeah, with a advent of all of these new technologies (like the Internet, which was first started at the University of Illinois for researchers to share information with each other, and like the cell phone, whose idea actually originated from seeing the cell phones that Captain Kirk used in the original Star Trek episodes), there is less and less of a need for those existing technologies, like newspapers. And although Thomas Jefferson is often quoted as saying that if he had the choice of a government with not newspaper of a newspaper with no government he’s prefer the latter, but he also said that just reading one newspaper alone for all of your information was often worse than reading no newspaper at all, because you should learn from a wider variety and to get a better-balanced view of the news and the world around you. And having access to the Internet gives you a lot of pieces of information — some reliable, some not, but at least you get to hear a variety of perspectives.




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Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
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