Good Ol’ Newspaper

Ever wondered why newspaper are still around when we can get all the news at our fingertips – literally – nowadays? 

Tap your finger here and tap it there and you got news from all around the globe popping up on your smartphone or tablet PCs. 

In a time where owning a computer and no other gadgets – like iPhone or iPad – would make you feel outdated in the technological scene, why in the world would anyone subscribe to newspapers or buy newspapers anymore? You can just get it online. 

But here’s the thing – how many people actually bother to read the online versions, say, on your transit to and from work. Would you rather read the news or play games on your devices?

There are plenty of news applications that are free but there are many that require payment. When we look at the payments for the e-versions, we feel like it’s overpriced. Why? Because you can get it free elsewhere if you bother to look for it. 

OR, someone will share news on Facebook or other social networking sites. 

OR you can just switch on the TV or visit YouTube to WATCH the news instead of READING it. 

I feel like the majority of the people still prefer the hard copy to soft copies of newspapers. Don’t get me wrong; they like the soft copy, but just to browse through to stay updated on current events. 

The mobile apps come with pop up notification whenever a new article is published. The news websites send daily e-mails with headlines and links to the articles. You just browse through these notifications and mails and you’ll get a rough idea of what’s happening locally and internationally. 

But to really read and know more about the news, people still prefer the good ol’ print edition. This is because our attention span when we’re reading something online or on a mobile device is very short. It’s just human nature. 

That’s why we would read a long article when it’s printed in a newspaper, but prefer to skim through the same article if it was published online. 

Print Editions have a small advantage because of a small trick. The margins are small and articles are written in short columns rather than in long lines. This shortness is what makes it easy to read and keeps you going to finish the article.

Below is one of my articles, published online and in print. It’s the same article. Just to prove the point I made above.

Another reason that print editions still make the rounds is because – believe it or not – the surface area of a newspaper is larger than that of a mobile phone or a tablet PC.

Doesn’t make sense? 

Well, it’s just got to do with our attention span again. 

Newspapers are bigger than mobile devices. It’s lighter too – most of them. The feel of newspaper is different from the feel of mobile devices. You do a lot of things with mobile devices but not as many things with a newspaper.

So naturally, your brain only associates newspaper with news and reading and that is why you can concentrate better when reading printed articles than online ones. 

Same applies to magazines and books.

I for one prefer the printed versions to online ones. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment.  


Photographs and captions

Everyone knows that photographs add dimension to an article, be it blog posts or newspaper articles. Today I’m going to share a very important lesson that I learned about photographs and captioning them properly, especially if you are submitting it to a print publisher.

One of my feature articles was published on the 29th, in a local newspaper. It was the same article I was referring to in my earlier post about the importance of face-to-face interviewing.

So it turns out that the article I wrote was chosen to represent the start of a series, and as such it was printed as the cover story. Naturally I was happy and excited so I started browsing through the article as soon as I got hold of it. It was just a basic instinct to check if everything was ok..

AaaaaaaaND THEN!!! And then I had the shock of a lifetime – literally, because this was the first time such a thing happened to me. The photo of one of the persons I interviewed was printed wrongly! They printed a photo of someone irrelevant to the article and in the caption they printed the name of the person I had interviewed. What a Mix Up!

It just so happened that this person – a man – and his wife were good friends of mine and I had interviewed them as a couple. So both their names were written in the article, but separate photos of them were printed.

The mix up was an honest mistake from the assistant editor’s part. As soon as I informed her about it, she apologized to me and informed me that they would run a correction in their next issue. But I was very nervous about this mistake because I didn’t know what I could do for my friends to compensate for this mix up. I felt especially embarrassed because they were really helpful throughout the whole process of writing the article.

I apologized to them personally, but I was a whole bunch of nerves for the rest of the day. I felt like apologizing was simply not enough!

Eventually my fiancé told me to contact the editor, who was away on vacation. I sent him an email and since I was so desperately worried, I asked him for advice – something that I don’t usually do.

To my pleasant surprise, he called me shortly after, calmed me down and gave me a couple of good advices, which I thought I could share here.

For one, I realized that although I have been a freelance writer for more than a year and have received a lot of appreciation for my works in such a short span, I am still a child in this field and I am bound to make mistakes. It was a fact and I must accept it, and learn from it. I should take this in stride and not beat myself up for a small mistake.

Yes, I realised after talking to my editor that this was indeed a very small mistake that can happen to anyone. Even experienced journalists make this mistake. We are humans after all, and it is only human to err. Apparently, there have been instances of people publishing the wrong photos in the obituary section of newspapers. That is way worse than what happened to me.

Secondly, why do I consider it my mistake? The sub-editor got it wrong. That isn’t my fault, right? Well, it is partly my mistake, because I didn’t caption the photo properly when she asked me for more details. There were two men in the photo, one holding a medal and the other just standing beside him. I just captioned it as, “Mr. ABC at an award function.” Naturally, the Asst Editor – who was busy since the Editor was out of town – didn’t have the time to call me up to clarify this, and assumed that the guy holding the medal was Mr. ABC. Mr. ABC was actually the one who was not holding the medal.

The proper way to caption it was, “Mr. ABC (left) with Mr. XYZ (right) at an award function.” I still can’t believe I forgot to add those few words when I submitted the photo. I completely let slip the fact that my editors do not know how my interviewees look like. It is the duty of the writer to specify things like this in as much detail as we can, even if it means mentioning left, right, up, down, centre or even foreground, background etc etc. Use whatever words needed to avoid all misunderstanding.

This may have been a small mistake but it is an important lesson that I leaned. Because of this lesson, I will never forget to be specific when captioning photographs in future. 😀

P.S. I absconded for a few days because I was busy with a literature essay work. Will be writing all about it in another post.