by JACOB LINDSTROM
SPECIAL SCHOOL PAPER CORRESPONDENT
I’ll tell ya, if there’s one thing a young columnist likes me dislikes more than irresponsible kids doing irresponsible things, it’s irresponsible adults doing irresponsible research. How else to explain the occurrence of yet another media frenzy about kids and their newsgathering sources?
Today’s Romenesko (a daily news and gossip website for working journalists, both professional ones, like Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, and amateur ones, like myself) features another infuriating posting: a link to a story in the Chicago Tribune entitled “Papers not a must read: A generation of young adults turns to the Internet as its primary news source”.
Well, guess what, Mr. Mike Hughlett? (He’s the author of the piece.) I’m tired of having lesser-minded twits like one student you quoted, Heather Tody, whose “favorites are CNN.com, Weather.com and Oprah Winfrey’s home page” represent my tastes and reading pleasures! Or Josh Darrah, whose information-gathering consists of “sites devoted to comics that are exclusive to the Web.”
Mr. Hughlett, why don’t you bother digging deeper in your investigative research? For instance, you could have asked me about my reading habits. Though I’m only 16 years old, and not part of the collegiate demographic you cite in your article, I still think I count as part of the generation about which you were trying so hard to make broad, sweeping generalizations. The Generalization Generation? That’s you, Mr. Hughlett!
Each and every morning as I make my way to the dining halls here at Exeter, other students may be clutching their copies of Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare, or Algebra II by Houghton-Mifflin, in preparation for homeroom discussions or pop quizzes…but I always make sure to stop in the school’s library and check out the headlines on the print edition of the New York Times and the Boston Globe. Why? Because you know that when something is printed on paper, it has endurance going for it, and more importantly, legacy, unlike the online editions of newspapers’ websites, or the blogs kept by some of my classmates. Yes, Google has already cached the unpleasant things that Jeremy Forrester and Alfred Liu and Jesse Quinlan said about my behavior at lunchtime last Tuesday, when I slipped on a wet spot on the floor near where the trays are stored, but that doesn’t mean Google was able to cache the cellphone photos they took of this unfortunate incident after I complained to Vice Principal Hartley and they had to take their entries down.
See what I mean? If this news had been reported in the print edition of the New York Times, it would have lived on forever, searing the truth into the public’s conscience for all eternity. Much like the paper’s reports about Superdome rapes, Wen Ho Lee, and Ahmad Chalabi, people many years from now might have picked up hard copy portrayals of my embarrassing tumble and laughed at my misfortune…and known the truth of that shameful day.
Ultimately, how we read is important. It’s a matter of the comfort and security that holding a hard copy of a broadsheet newspaper provides its readers, whether they’re scanning the familiar page layout for relevant headlines, or using the massive width of the sheet of unfolded paper to shield their eyes from their classmates’ scowls and laughter. I only wish the paper stock were thicker and stronger, to better withstand the writing utensils and pen caps thrown my way.
But I’m still sticking with print, Mr. Hughlett.
(REPRINTED ONLINE WITH KIND PERMISSION OF MR. CLARK TURNER, SCHOOL PAPER ADVISOR)