Living in LA, I’m constantly bombarded with the obsessive need for instant contact with the rest of the world. Everyone must have a smartphone or some form of social media on their person, and if you don’t, you’re often looked at as if you have a third eye. And today’s media is catching on to the recent tools that are driving consumption. The NY Times came preinstalled on my Droid Incredible, and CBS News now offers TV clips through its app. Countless other news organizations are developing digital models to provide constant information to readers, and they’re personalizing what gets delivered to you based upon preferences.
For a long time I’ve been hearing about how the age of print media is quickly dying. Newspapers are going under, magazine subscriptions are declining, and more and more people are reading e-books on their Nook or iPad, than going to the library or bookstore. Even the NY Public Library now offers eBooks for people to check-out (which I did just before my flight from LAX to PHL).
But something strange happened as I arrived at my gate in LAX. As I scanned and promptly found an open seat next to an outlet, I noticed that fewer people were utilizing laptops, iPads, smart phones or digital media devices. It might have been an anomaly since the NBA Finals was on TV, but nonetheless, I seemed to be in the minority on my quest for electrical stimulus.
Even more strange, as I boarded the flight and we departed, more people were consuming print media. Not just the tabloids, but serious reading … The New York Times, the LA Times, The Economist, US News and World Report, the Wall Street Journal and Curios George Goes to the Zoo (a four year old was sitting beside me). I could easily make out the sound of newsprint pages being creased, over the hum of the engines.
Granted, I was flying US Airways, which has about as many entertainment options as a trip to the local mortuary, but I found it oddly entertaining to just enjoy the sight of people taking the time to read a printed page. Even the four year old…she couldn’t get enough of good ole’ George. Or maybe all of the people bound for Philadelphia (the home of the American newspaper) know how to enjoy the press.
Yes, print media is slowly becoming a thing of the past as our demand our instant connection to news and digital content evolves. But for today, I felt like joining my fellow Ben Franklins and picked up an actual paper. It’s refreshing to revisit the familiar smell of newsprint, the sound of pages turning, and even the inevitable paper cut as I try to fold the page to a crossword.