Newsprint rolls through the presses at Black Press, publisher of Peace Arch News. (File photo)

COLUMN: In the beginning was the (printed) word

Driven to distraction reading online news, columnist Lance Peverley pays tribute to newsprint

As media the world over scramble to get their news ‘clicked’ and ‘shared’, it’s rewarding to practise journalism in a community that still values the printed word.

No doubt, some of you will be reading this column online. Some will have accessed it via social media – perhaps showing up on Peace Arch News Facebook or Twitter feeds – and others will have gone straight to the source at www.peacearchnews.com. (And to those readers I am grateful, especially writing from an industry whose successes are increasingly being evaluated by the number of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ our articles get online.)

Still, regardless of the value of global media online at our fingertips, the printed word, for me, is priceless. The smudge of the ink notwithstanding, gripping the paper and scanning the newsprint is how I prefer to read my news of the day.

I see the headlines and photos laid out to draw me in, by design, with each word chosen by the more gifted writers to keep me glued so that I don’t lift my head to look for the next factoid or morsel that will take me away, often never to return.

Instead, when we’re online, we’re inundated with headlines, graphics, sound and movement that try to tempt us for our almighty ‘click’ which, someday soon, it is hoped by the biggest players in mainstream media, will turn into the almighty dollar.

And there is so much information online – and so many sources – that I sometimes feel the electronic rabbit hole open up to a nonsensical place of wonderment, perhaps hinted at by Rev. Charles Dodgson exactly 100 years before two computers at MIT first exchanged information.

If you’re not up on your Alice, and you didn’t get the Dodgson reference, feel free to Google. Meet you back here. I’ll wait…

…and that’s my own problem with the Internet. Decades in, and I still find myself distracted by the ‘news’ it has to offer. Even if my best intentions send me to trustworthy news sources, there are so many other links that make Wonderland’s rabbit hole seem like a slight drop.

I remember years ago coming across a site dedicated to the claim that the man the world recognizes as Paul McCartney had long ago perished and been replaced by another Beatle. Fake Paul – or Faul – they called him. Ridiculous, right? I spent well into the early hours on that ridiculousness, and I’d defy you not to do the same if you have more than a passing interest in the Fab Four.

I mentioned the Faul conspiracy-theory site to a friend, and he retaliated my kindness by directing me to an equally outrageous one that argued Stevie Wonder is not really blind.

Back in a bit…

…what were we talking about? Right, Ebony and Ivory and my preference for newsprint.

Now, I’m not suggesting that online news isn’t of huge value. It is. Provided the reader has the time, perseverance and discernment to consider the sources.

But when it comes to my own preferred form of communication, I am thrilled to invest my time here (and here), among readers who also still value the printed word.

Lance Peverley is the editor of Peace Arch News (lance.peverley@peacearchnews.com).

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