Richards: News in a dying paper age

About a week before moving into my second-year dorm at Case Western Reserve University, I visited my grandmother in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She brought to my attention a problem with her morning routine of reading the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the city’s daily newspaper. She had been notified that the paper would no longer be printed on Tuesdays and Saturdays in light of the trend of news shifting from paper to online editions.

If you hold the pleasure of having grandparents in today’s technological revolution, it’s probable that they’ve asked you at least once for help with technology—connecting to the internet, setting up a router or TV, and making the font on their smartphones as big as possible, just to name a few. It’s not easy to get someone who has read the physical paper for the majority of their life to “just read it online.”

I suspect it won’t be long until physical copies of newspapers become fully replaced by digital versions, and I have to say, it’s the right move. Sorry Grandma.

But why explain to you the discontent of many who read the daily newspaper only to disagree with them? The answer: “news is a conversation.”

This quote by Jeff Jarvis, a pioneer in the world of digital news, intrigued me. Denise Polverine, director of Digital Strategy and Content for news station WKYC in Cleveland and professor of my introductory journalism class this semester, started off her lecture on the ethics of reporting with this quote. It describes why the move to digital journalism is so important and becoming more prevalent in news today.

What you don’t get with the daily newspaper or broadcast news station is a comments section—a place for the audience to be heard. It’s a way to start a conversation with people who may not have the same perspective on a headline as you.

There will never be a time that an entire audience agrees upon the ethics and presentation of a news story, so entering this digital age allows for opinions to be stated on a more visible platform.

In such a trusted network of media that provides transparency between people and their community, all sides of the story are important—not just that of the news. And while all forms of media strive to provide the most morally correct and ethical approach to their reporting, questions can still arise and conversations can, and should, be started.

We should be able to bring to light perspectives and issues that the news may have overlooked and let it be seen by the same audience who watched or read the original story.

Next time you read a news story online, scroll down to the comments section. A majority of the time you’ll find a new perspective to consider the article with. You may not agree with the side of the story being told or the perspective taken, and that’s all the more reason to take part in the conversation.

When comment sections aren’t available, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter showcase trending topics that open your eyes to perspectives of people from a broader variety of beliefs.

While taking away a couple days of newspapers is the beginning of the end of a strong era of news, it’s the reinforcement of the newer digital age that’s contributing to the transparency the news industry has always sought to provide.

Jason Richards is a second-year computer science major. He enjoys writing and journalism, building computers and eating Chipotle.