Steve Hansen: Discussing the future of news

By Steve Hansen

Former QCS Managing Editor

I recently exchanged some views with M.E. Sprengelmeyer, the estimable editor, publisher and owner of the Communicator weekly in Santa Rosa, about print vs. online news products.

Sprengelmeyer is a staunch believer in the paper product. I look at the newspaper industry’s current status and say maybe it’s time we reconsider how we deliver our version of the news.

Our conversation started online, of course. M.E. made a Facebook entry about saving the paper product. I responded that even without paper, we will have reporting, writing, editing and photos, so it may not matter what you read it on. Sprengelmeyer responded firmly that newspapers need to be on paper.

Turns out that if we were betting barrels of ink on whether the medium matters, M.E. could have published an extra edition or two. Print or screen does matter, according to folks who have been studying this question scientifically.

Serious reading means consuming words in print to most people of all ages.

Even our screen-addicted children approach reading from paper more inclined to learn than they do from a glowing screen.

A well laid-out news page draws you into the news and puts it in perspective, helping readers prioritize their reading, another study determined.

But on the question of enews vs. print news, I’m not ready to concede many barrels of ink just yet.

I like being able to refer back to another story at the press of a mouse key on a hyperlink when I need some background.

It’s easier to store and organize large amounts of information on the computer. Citing electronic information is easier, too. In fact, I did about 85 percent of the research for a master’s degree project 10 years ago online and via computer.

Electronically, you can get a written story, links and video online in a few hours — way more than TV can show you in the same amount of time.

So what’s the future of what we now call newspapers?

Fantasy: We walk around carrying paper-like folded pages. We hit a switch and words and pictures appear on the pages that look like ink on paper. We can switch on again in an hour and see updates.

It could happen.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

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