Newsweek going digital: Will the fall of print mark the end of reading?

Published: October 20, 2012
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Sentimental fools such as myself felt an initial and almost painful pang of nostalgia once we heard that after 79 years Newsweek won’t be in print anymore. PHOTO: REUTERS

When the Sumerians began the organising, collecting and establishing the first ever libraries in the history of mankind, the reaction must have been interesting.

What were these strange new methods of collecting information? What were these new-fashioned ways of gathering the hieroglyphs? Surely the age-old way of letting them stay in the caves would suffice, right?

Perhaps this is the kind of automated reaction the world is going through again as Newsweek announces the culmination of its print edition. Come next year, one of the oldest magazines of our generation is going to go online and pretty soon you won’t be finding its glossy, statement-making covers on newsstands. You may find its not-so-subtle headlines on The Daily Beast, though ─ the online edition with which it will now be in collaboration.

Sentimental fools such as myself felt an initial and almost painful pang of nostalgia once we heard that after 80 years Newsweek won’t be in print anymore. Perhaps my two-year-old son won’t feel the same way when his teenage self finds out that Time will be going out of print or that they have decided to stop manufacturing desktop computers altogether.

Print media holds a certain taste of a glorious past for our generation and the previous one (and the ones before that). We didn’t grow up with everything at the power of a sliding cell phone. We didn’t know there would ever be a threat of printing presses going out of business.

That’s how the world is moving forward. It’s changing, and while it is unsettling that we’re not on familiar ground anymore, it’s something that we have to accept instead of constantly looking at the rear-view mirror. The end of Newsweek’s print edition (and the “le sigh” reactions to it) signify to me how the world continues to change and how there will always be a rose-tinted glow to what the world was before any of the changes took place.

Sure, the print edition is ending, but it doesn’t mean people have stopped reading. Sure, the people who were working in the printing of Newsweek won’t have the jobs that they were used to, but there are many people in the world who have found jobs with the advent of online media.

Ever since the advent of the World Wide Web, the number of advancements that have improved the quality of life are astounding. Not only has globalisation become a natural evolutionary process for this day and age, the spread of information is easier than it ever was. I will always look at Newsweek/print media in a fond way but it’s much easier when you can just download the entire thing online.

There is death of the old, birth of the new, that’s just how nature works.

There’s enough gloom and doom to surround us what with the terrorist attacks and the threat of nuclear warfare, the whole apocalypse now scenario certain critics tend to build up when they look at the world right now.

Perhaps we can still do with a little more optimism. The world is in a much better shape right now than it ever was. There’s much to look forward to, as well, and not just doomsday prophecies. There’s the possibility of exploring the world beyond what we see. There’s a stronger chance of fighting disease and dilapidation than there ever was. There is a stronger connection between distant cultures, and there’s a stronger bridging of societies. There are demons that human nature creates everywhere of course but there are also rays of sunshine that can be seen if only we can open our eyes and look forward instead of backward. Much as the critics won’t agree… there’s hope.

We must not forget hope. Never.

Read more by Mahwash here or follow her on Twitter @MhwshB

Mahwash.Badar.

Mahwash Badar

The author is a clinical psychologist, a mum to two boys and permanently in a state of flux. She tweets @mahwashajaz_ (twitter.com/mahwashajaz_)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.