Adwan: Please don’t let the newspaper die.

The newspaper provides a much-needed escape from the chaos of online news, so I hope it sticks around.

by Noor Adwan

I am a Gen Z-er through and through. I have a preoccupation with social media, a pricey coffee habit and a fashion sense that makes older people quirk their eyebrows.

I am different in at least one respect, however. I love the newspaper.

Once you get past the main challenges of consuming news in this form – namely keeping all the pages together and trying not to feel like your grandpa – reading the newspaper is, dare I say it, fun.

There’s something so bourgeois about the action of flicking your wrists and creasing the paper just enough to keep it from falling over on itself. The paper even smells nice. Book smell, in my opinion, is the overrated sibling of the far-superior newspaper smell.

What I love most about newspapers, though, is their stillness. There’s no urgency attached to reading the newspaper; it’s a slow and undemanding activity.

The same cannot be said about digital news. The simple act of clicking on a web article opens you up to audiovisual assault.

For just a few seconds, there is peace. All that has loaded is the text, and maybe an image or two.

That peace swiftly vanishes once the page has loaded fully. Melodramatic and sensational sponsored content populates the sidebar, begging you to try a new diet pill or treatment for a condition you’ve never heard of. A video begins to autoplay, loudly, following along with you as you scroll.

Suddenly, you can’t read anymore. A pop-up has fully obscured the text.

“Uh oh,” it reads. “Looks like you’re using an ad blocker.”

You frustratedly hit close. More pop-ups appear. “Want to join our mailing list?” “Please enable cookies!”

If you haven’t snapped your laptop in half at this point, you might be able to read on. This is, of course, assuming that the article doesn’t cut off three paragraphs in, prompting you to subscribe to continue reading.

Newspapers, by contrast, are unintrusive, inanimate. When reading, I find myself retaining more information than I would reading a digital article. I am also never consumed with the urge to punch a newspaper, something I cannot say for the devices I use to read digital news.

For these reasons, the decline in circulation of the newspaper in recent decades is upsetting to me. Newspaper circulation in 2020 was 40% of what it was 30 years ago, according to a fact sheet published by Pew Research Center. With advertisers and readers migrating to more modern news media, physical news has simply become less profitable.

This makes sense logically, of course. Businesses can’t stay afloat on merit alone, though if they could, the world might be a better place.

That doesn’t make it any less disappointing, though. If newspapers were to disappear completely, it would represent a complete surrender to the whims of a digital audience. The internet wants news that is fast, digestible, and above all, entertaining. Integrity is lost when those become the core values the discipline of journalism is governed by.

I may be getting ahead of myself here. Even though the current state of the media world makes it seem like a complete pulling of the plug on print news is inevitable, the newspaper is, for now, still around. We should enjoy it while we can.

Fellow newspaper enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the University of Minnesota’s Wilson Library has a newspaper collection, as well as subscriptions to the print editions of news publications like the Star Tribune and The Wall Street Journal.

I encourage anyone to take advantage of this collection, located in room 65J of the Wilson Library basement, even if you aren’t a heavy news reader. Print media has a charm to it that the digital simply does not possess. If you’re someone who prefers physical books to their electronic counterparts, you’ll understand this.

This affinity of mine might seem niche or strange. After all, not everyone needs to appreciate the newspaper. Regardless, my hope is that one day we’ll realize how short-sighted we were for leaving it behind.