My Long Love Affair with Newspapers

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“Whether it is buying a newspaper from the frozen but friendly vendor in the street, that feeling of stretching wide open and folding a broadsheet to the annoyance of anyone else in close proximity or getting ink on my fingers, I love it.”

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 14/10/2019 [Online], Available: https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/ewan-gurr-my-enduring-love-affair-with-the-medium-of-print/  [Accessed: 2019, Oct 15]

It is 10:05am on a mild Monday morning and I have just spent 45 minutes foraging through five different newsagents from one end of Dundee city centre to the other in search of three newspapers and two magazines. I am a peculiar millennial in that I love the print press. Whether it is buying a newspaper from the frozen but friendly vendor in the street, that feeling of stretching wide open and folding a broadsheet to the annoyance of anyone else in close proximity or getting ink on my fingers, I love it.

I read widely and like opinions that conflict with my own, so my purchases today include The Daily Telegraph, a Financial Times and Dundee’s Evening Telegraph. I also add in The Spectator and New Statesman costing me a grand total of £14.85. A decade ago, I would have paid half the price for that collection and would probably have been able to get them all in the same newsagent. The reason why this activity is so peculiar is because a decreasing number of my own generation do this anymore.

But herein lies a dilemma, we hear of the decline of print media but, the reality is, some newspapers are becoming relentlessly inaccessible and, if you want a particular edition, you are going to have work increasingly hard to find it. The reason for the decline, from my perspective, is not because people are less interested but the news they seek is harder to find in print, takes a great deal more effort and will cost you more to purchase when the very same news is more accessible cost-free online.

Paul Hutcheon, the outgoing Political Editor at The Herald, recently highlighted this point, stating that the public has a greater appetite for news, but is less willing than ever to pay for it. Describing a familiar picture to any regular traveller via public transport, he wrote: “En route to work in 2004, a sizeable proportion of passengers would be reading a newspaper purchased moments earlier. These days, they are either reading the (free) Metro or devouring content on their smart-phones.”

Millennials like me, who will take a creaking bookshelf over a Kindle, are a declining breed. And, truthfully, had it not been for decent English teachers who infused in me the value of quality journalism and inspired a fondness for a good opinion piece, I could have easily followed the generational herd. The recent BBC Scotland series ‘The Papers’ which followed the Newsquest franchise was a sad reminder of the threat that looms for many whose livelihoods rely upon the resilience of print media.

I do fear the day when I can no longer buy a newspaper and get inky fingers from the friendly vendor but, until then, I will savour these precious moments.