Are newspapers all washed-up?

Even though our copy of the Greenville News was drenched by a downpour this Saturday morning, my commitment to reading the paper did not wane. As I stood in my garage methodically drying wet newsprint with a discarded hair dryer, several things occurred to me:

  1. Content is king. As I dried the paper, I crumpled 2-page spreads of ads for Kias, rooms of furniture and sporting equipment. Why waste my time? I even cut stories from ad-dominated pages so I didn’t have to dry the whole thing. The ads are all in my garage – still wet.
  2. Newsprint doesn’t bleed when wet. The drying process left less ink on my hands than a typical day of reading. Perhaps this is foreshadowing of the indelible nature of the journalistic process. Or maybe its just a sign of high quality ink.
  3. Layout hasn’t significantly changed in years. Would a newspaper layout be better served with a web-type-look: more available content up front so that readers could choose how to move through the paper? Or could we get annoyed by the constant flipping? A magazine-style approach might work, but good stories could get lost in the middle.
  4. Whereas they are better read from outside in, newspapers dry better from the inside out. As the water bled from the paper, I saw connections between the newspaper’s format and digital print. Reading a story that jumps across pages is similar to a click through online. I found myself wondering why I still take a daily rather than using my iPhone to deliver my news.

I hate to say it, but my newspaper may have transitioned this subscriber from paper to digital simply by not utilizing the convenient newspaper slot on my mailbox on a rainy day.

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