The Luxury Of Print

In this DIGITAL AGE, is it old-fashioned to read your news in the pages of a newspaper? SARAH MCDONNELL discusses the luxury of print …


If, to you, a stack of unread newspapers represents an urgent need for bulk recycling, you won’t be interested in what comes next. But if a stack of unread magazines and newspapers, preferably tall enough to rest your coffee cup on beside the bed, represents for you the promise of hours of potential, of discovery, of pleasure, of time out, off, immersed, engaged, in a way you don’t experience online, then you’ll understand that reading in print can feel like a luxury, and never more so than now. The more that strong voices sound its death knell, the more the stubborn reader of print digs her heels in, puts her heels on and heads for the shops – for we can no longer call them newsagents – for an armful of newspapers and magazines. I’m biased of course, being in the business of print, and belonging to an age group born long before the digital age. I’ve always found refuge and inspiration within the pages of books, newspapers and magazines. But it’s not only old fogeys who love the experience of reading a newspaper, especially a weekend edition, and its supplements, dipping in and out of favourite pages or sections, reading some intently, skimming others, sidelining one to twist up as kindling (sorry, Money section of the FT, I never loved thee and your neat size makes you perfect for starting fires).

The front page story, world news, informed observers, like ‘em or loathe ‘em columnists, crossword-filling and peering at odd little “classifieds” and ads for midweek stays you’ll never manage until you’re 70, and weather maps, with big fat printed clouds and isobars, and Church Services and cricket teams and chess problems and Bridge Notes and Sudoku and Births and Deaths (I used to groan inwardly when my mum went straight for the back page, now I do the same). It’s all there, where you want it, stories, reports, features, commissioned, researched, written, edited, designed, presented, in one rustling bundle, uninterrupted by pesky videos and pop-ups and cookies and Google ads for places I once had the vaguest interest in visiting but now could not care less about. I don’t necessarily want my weekend reading served up with the help of an algorithm devised in Silicon Valley. I want it between the pages of a newspaper. If that makes me old-fashioned, I
don’t care.

A candidate for a digital post at this magazine explained she wanted to work for THE GLOSS because her heart lay in print – she bought several magazines every month and while she came from one digital job and was seeking another, she was drawn to our title because it was clear, while we had a very good “online presence”, that we valued and protected our principles of good magazine design and we hope, good writing for readers who love to consume in print. Now she works on both website and magazine, a foot in either camp, as many of us do, both at work and in our leisure time. It doesn’t demean one reading experience or the other. It just means they are not the same. And for some young men and women, print has a novelty value and a cachet now. And the ultimate luxury? Slipping out on a Saturday morning to retrieve the newspaper from your front step … and back to bed.

Sarah McDonnell

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