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What's In The News

I have a confession to make: I don't read the newspapers. I know you are all silently - or, if you know me personally, not so silently - judging me, but here's the thing: I find reading through 30 pages of 3-by-one-half-foot pages boring, cumbersome and ecologically damaging. On those grounds, I no longer rely on newspapers to find out what's going on in the world around me. I can say now, with great pride, that I get the entirety of my news from Twitter.

I'm kidding, of course - I don't think the 140 characters allowed on a microblogging site are anywhere near enough to provide a clear picture of any event of moment - though, if the Times of India editors haven't changed since I last read it, there are many who could do with aid in the clarity department when writing even a thousand words. There are, of course, many who disagree with that notion - an app called Inshorts claims that it delivers the news in a mere sixty words.

However, while I may not derive my opinions on the world from microbloggers, it is true that I don't read newspapers. I simply cannot deal with having to move furniture and enlist the help of the neighbours every time I want to turn the page. Instead, I receive my news on my smartphone, via apps like Google News and Flipboard. These aren't newspapers in the conventional sense - they're what are known as news aggregators. They don't publish their own articles - instead, they collect articles from various other sources and present the articles which you are most likely to be interested in to you. Google News is particularly good at this - probably because Google knows everything about you from your home address to when you last picked your nose, but that's another post.

Most newspapers nowadays are also available online, and for free, at that. The main reason for this is that print sales of newspapers have been steadily declining for several years now. For a time, the largest threat to print media seemed to be that the existing consumers would simply die, but that has changed. With even adults abandoning print for the internet, newspapers have also moved online to cash in. The Hindu, the Times of India and several other major newspapers are now available on the internet. Despite all that, though, newspaper circulation is declining, and one-fifth of journalists in the United States have lost their jobs since 2001.

However, all of this doesn't really tell us much about the future of newspaper circulation, or, come to that, of digital media. Newspaper sales have always been cyclical, and they suffered a major dip in the 1950s, when television became popular, as well. Perhaps, 500 years from now, when we are all dead (or perhaps being kept alive by the nanites in our systems), we will still be flipping through pages and pages of dead trees to keep up with the world around us.


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    - Naveen

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