Is Reading Newspapers A Good Habit? The 11 Pros and Cons

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The news has mostly gone digital. Either people gather their news from social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Or they use an app on their phone to read from their favorite publications. Reading from a hardcopy newspaper is of a bygone era. And it is mostly associated with the older generation.

But, is reading the newspaper a good habit to have? There’s plenty of benefits to reading the newspaper. It gives people a good ritual for the morning while staying informed on current events. However, there are some cons to reading the newspaper, such as the lack of efficiency and not getting the news everyone wants to read.  

How we consume news is different from a few years ago, but the newspaper industry isn’t quite dead yet. Here are the 11 pros and cons of reading the newspaper and why it is a good habit, overall.

Are you still trying to decide whether it’s better to read the newspaper or check the online version of it? I’ve got you covered, two. At the end of this article, you can get through the 11 pros and cons to print vs. online newspaper.

Cons: What Can Make Reading The Newspaper A Bad Habit

My personal experience has actually led me to believe that reading the newspaper can be quite detrimental.

A few years ago, I was convinced that reading newspapers daily was a must to stay well-informed. When confronted with the possibility to have a job interview for one of my dream positions, I decided to double down on my news consumption.

Reading, listening, watching…

After 2 or 3 days, I started feeling slightly depressed. I even started developing the fear that we may soon be confronted with a 3rd World War.

I soon realized that it all had to do with my binging on news. And this realization had a strong impact on me. I understood that many news channels and journals were not properly processing and filtering the information.

Instead, they were happily creating a bias towards negative, shocking or sad news.

And that, science has proven, is really not good for us.

So, without further due, let’s start with the reasons why reading the newspaper can be a BAD HABIT for you.

For those of you who were hoping for it to be a good habit, read on, we’re also going to go through the pros of reading the newspaper. So you can decide for yourself which side, pros or cons, weighs more in your personal case.

Is Reading Newspapers A Good Habit

1. Newspapers can misuse their power and misrepresent information.

Online and print media have a tendency to blatantly report false pretenses against certain people or subjects. An article from the Harvard Business Review goes into great detail about how corrupt the American print media can get, using examples of countless political and economic events in the 1970s and 1980s.

The HBR emphasizes that newspapers report the news, but not the truth. For example, newspapers love to use surveys and charts of public opinion, which can be easily swayed or taken out of context. Fear tactics published in newspapers are especially risky for publications, even if it increases readership.

2. Fake news and vested interests lead to an overrepresentation of negative news.

Neither online media nor printed newspapers are immune to fake news circulation. The media also tends to benefit from sensational news, especially those that trigger the public’s fears.

The HBR explains, ”Journalists need crises to dramatize news, and government officials need to appear to be responding to crises. Too often, the crises are not really crises but joint fabrications.”

3. The exaggerated negativity spread by news can prime your brains to focus on the bad things in life.

Harvard research Shawn Achor wrote a brilliant book about The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life*.

In this book, he explains how a company’s best way to make sure it’s profitable is to have HAPPY employees.

Indeed, happiness is not only good for you, but also for the people around you and the world economy, so it seems.

Yet, research shows that some activities PRIME our brain to scan mostly for the negative things in life. For instance, if you are a tax professional, you’ve most likely been trained to look for any potential mistakes. And you start looking at everything through that very same lense. Soon, you start holding lists about your partner’s defaults and mistakes, which can jeopardize the entire relationship.

Well, the same certainly goes with the news. We read about so many crises, obstacles, deaths, and apocalyptic types of events that our brain starts thinking this is really representative of how the world is.

Your brain gets PRIMED for negativity. This can not only make you unhappy but it can also cause severe anxiety or even depression.

If you feel like you may be strongly affected by the news, maybe reading the newspaper daily is not the best habit for you. At least try to limit your news consumption to maybe once or twice a week…

4. Reading the newspaper in the morning can potentially be a source of distraction throughout the day.

Depending on the type of news you are reading, you might not be doing yourself a favor by reading the newspaper first thing in the morning. And, by the way, that’s even truer when you read the news notifications on your phone right when you wake up, still yawning and trying to get up!

By doing this, you may be robbing yourself of your prime time of the day. The time when you’re brain is really fresh and could take on literally ANY TASK.

But instead, you read the news. And if the news isn’t good (and most of the time it’s at least presented as not being good), then you may spend 1 or 2 hours ruminating about what may or may not happen as a consequence of the news you just read.

Pros: What Makes Reading The Newspaper A Good Habit

1. It’s one of the best ways to stay informed about the news.

It might sound like a no-brainer to you, but I had to figure this out the hard way.

Reading the newspaper is a much better way for you to take in information that is often negative and shocking, especially compared to TV news. Videos and images are strongly impacting us, emotionally. Much more than written words!

On a similar note, radio news often tries to compress a lot of information in short timeframes, which are then repeated throughout the day. This limits the depth of the insights provided.

In any case, I’d recommend you read a weekly newspaper rather than a daily one. Simply because weekly news has more time to go in-depth and do proper research on a topic. They are driven by quality rather than quantity and speed of information.

2. Reading the newspaper in the morning creates a structured routine.

Most people read the paper first thing in the morning with their cup of coffee.

This practice gives them a start to their day that helps them stay on track. Those who use public transportation may read the paper while commuting on the bus or the train.

The point is that incorporating the paper into your morning routine seems to be a good practice to start your day in a structured way. Some of the most successful businessmen and entrepreneurs continue to read the paper daily.

For example, Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, has maintained his newspaper reading routine for 25 years. He reads the hard copies of the Seattle Times, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times along with his morning coffee (Source: Business Insider).

3. You’ll feel well-informed and full of ideas.

The common argument against consuming the news via social media is that there’s a lot of what people consider junk news on the internet. Most newspapers won’t publish those kinds of stories, but ones that inspire people to learn about topics such as economics and politics.

Robinson Meyer of The Atlantic articulates the concept of being full of ideas from the newspaper by talking about how people remember things better from reading the printed news. He cites a study from April 2013 that had people read The New York Times from the print and online. Readers recalled more details from print than from the online version of the newspaper.

4. It’s good for students.

Reading the newspaper can also help children learn reading comprehension at an early age. Many classrooms have projects that require reading the paper and gathering articles about a topic of their interest.

Some teachers have students find one on an important event, like a presidential election and discuss what the paper says.

Furthermore, having high school and college students work for and contribute to their school newspaper is an excellent way to show the importance of print publications. Students gather news and report through the paper. This teaches them the importance of journalism. They get to share the news and events of their school with their fellow students, which engages the community even more.

5. Reading the newspaper improves vocabulary and language skills.

Many articles that discuss the importance of reading print newspapers come from India and Bangladesh. And they examine how reading the newspaper can lead to improving readers’ vocabulary and English language skills. The idea was presented in a student dissertation entitled “Effectiveness of Reading English Newspapers for Improving Vocabulary and Reading Skills of Students of Dhaka University.”

The author, Raju Ahmmed, had his participants in his study read English-speaking newspapers to test whether reading the paper improved their English vocabulary. He concluded that the ones that frequently read the paper had the best results in understanding the English language and expanded their vocabulary better.

6. It can trigger many more good habits.

As stated before, establishing a morning routine by reading the paper first thing is a great habit to pick up. In fact, it promotes the habit of reading non-electronic texts more often. Whether that be books, magazines, or anything that isn’t online or coming from the television. And those non-electronic sources have a more relaxing effect on us.

They are also ideal to train our capacity to focus.

Indeed, we find it much easier to read one text from beginning to end when we read it on paper. Another good habit that comes from reading the paper is critical thinking and wanting to learn more.

Reading an intriguing story from the newspaper encourages people to dive deeper into a subject. It also promotes critical thinking by challenging their preconceived notions on a topic and makes the reader think about what the paper is telling them.

7. People are more aware of what happens in the world around them after reading the newspaper.

When Americans read global news from their paper or check out a foreign news publication, they can learn about events happening around the world to gain an understanding of issues outside of their own country.

The most important world news usually discusses war, climate change, the global economy, and politics outside the United States. A lot of these topics have a direct impact on Americans. And as such, it’s important for American readers to stay informed on a global scale.

Print Vs. Online Newspaper: What’s Best?

Is Reading Newspapers A Good Habit

The appearance of the online newspapers seems to have created a generational gap.

Older people are more likely to read and purchase newspapers than younger people. While online and broadcast media cater more to the younger generations as printing newspapers become more archaic by the year.

A study done by the American Press Institute states that adults over 65 who pay for news are five times more likely to buy print than digital.

While many younger people are split between subscribing to print and digital newspapers (42% each according to the API), there seems to be more and more justification for the digital subscription. The digital subscribers appear to engage more with their subscription by reading more articles than the print subscribers.

So, what’s best, reading prin or online newspapers?

The Cons of Print Newspaper

1. Print newspapers are not as convenient as reading online.

The simplicity of reading the news online or listening to the news on TV is undeniable. The paper comes in different sections that require sorting out and flipping through multiple pages to find the article one person really wants to read. Just checking out a news publication’s website makes it easier to find the news that a person wants to read.

Many people have complained about how newspaper pages can fly away and get crumbled up. Some publications are so large they become difficult to put back together neatly. Getting news electronically comes from one source, whether that’s a smartphone or television. The freedom of choosing to read articles and avoiding the time-wasting ones caters to the consumer much better than the paper.

2. Print newspapers are expensive.

There are two major expenses with print newspapers: the cost of printing the paper themselves, and the cost of subscriptions for the newspapers to be delivered at home. Generally speaking, most people cannot afford the extra expense of newspaper subscriptions.

The New York Times costs about $1,000 per year to have their print edition and purchasing a daily printed copy on a weekday costs $3/day.

In comparison, the New York Times online subscription costs $1/week, or $52/year. They also offer 5 free articles a month to the public. As for printing costs, the New York Times spends at least $200 million/quarter on printing, delivery, and wages (source: Business Insider).

3. It’s not environmentally friendly to print newspapers.

Another huge advantage of electronic news is that there is no use for any paper to be wasted to produce newspapers. According to the Environmental Professional Network, 95 million trees are used to produce newspapers per year. Production of newspapers count for 9% of carbon dioxide emissions in the air, the 4th largest industry to emit greenhouse gases in the environment.

The article goes into more detail about the negative environmental impacts of printing newspapers. Much of the paper industry gathers the paper from illegal deforestation. Additionally, the said printing paper contains toxic chemicals that pollute the water such as chlorine and iodine.

4. People easily discard print newspapers and usually miss advertisements.

While promoting a business, posting an advertisement in the paper is a good idea. But it also comes with a risk. Typically, not everyone looks at the advertisement section of a newspaper, so your business might end up wasting money on ad space if people just throw away the newspaper instantly.

As for online media, promoting a business on social media is usually free and has a higher chance of people seeing your advertisement. All it takes is a few positive reviews to drive more business and sales. The open-access of the internet regarding spreading the word about small businesses makes advertising in a bigger newspaper inefficient.

5. You can’t instantly update articles through a print newspaper.

When news is printed in the newspaper, whatever is shown there is what exists for the day. Publishers can’t retract newspapers once they’re distributed. And there are too many newspapers in circulation. Therefore, any new crucial information regarding a story that comes out after the article is published in the paper cannot be sent out until the next day, which would become old news at that point.

The internet and TV stations have this flexibility, which makes them able to report breaking news or news that develops in real-time. More people are going to want that because we live in an age where we want things instantly. Many people don’t have the patience to wait until the next day to learn about a full news story.

6. Fewer people read the print version of the newspaper.

The peak of people reading the newspaper came in the middle of the 20th century. Starting in 1964, circulating newspapers across the United States hit over the 60-million mark during the weekday edition. And they maintained those numbers until 1993. As of 2018, just over 28 million papers were circulating across the United States, as people turned to online news. (Source: Journalism.org).

Economically speaking, the same article from Journalism.org tracked the economic revenue of distributing newspapers. The money made from printed papers increased to an all-time high of $49 million in advertising in 2006 but has declined steadily to $14 million in 2018. Circulation revenue has consistently been in the $10 million range throughout the years.

7. Some people simply don’t like reading the print version of the news.

Print newspapers don’t come with any other way to consume the news other than reading the text and looking at the photos. News in a digital medium comes in videos, audio clips, and moving pictures that can engage the consumer more.

Younger generations like more interaction with their news. The most successful news publications online incorporate more than just text and static pictures into their news. Digital media is the future of news. And while print media may never truly go away, it won’t be the only way to consume news ever again.

The Pros Of Print Newspaper

1. The print newspaper holds the most important current events all in a few printed pages.

Ideally, well-informed newspapers incorporate the most noteworthy news, weather, sports, features, opinion pieces, and everything in between. It’s all in one sitting and you don’t have to scroll through multiple tabs on an online newspaper to find what you need.

The paper tells the public, “What is in this paper is what you need to know the most.”

If an important current event is happening around the globe, newspapers will publish articles about it and inform the public with the most crucial details. Most articles include more details about that event, whereas news stations only have so much time to get the story across.

2. The print newspaper appears to be a (more) reliable source.

According to the American Press Institute, 87% of people that get their information directly from the news organizations (New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, etc.) trust it moderately to completely.

That being said, we can conclude that print media is still the benchmark for trustworthy news since people still read the paper in the digital age.

The API also notes: “People who own and use more devices are no more or less likely to use print publications, television, or radio to access the news. For example, 62 percent of people who use only one internet-enabled device say they used the print version of a publication to get news in the last week, as do 60 percent of those who use three or more mobile devices.”

3. Print newspapers are good for the job market.

The biggest effect going digital has on the print media industry is the decline of employment in the industry. However, there are still many print newspapers available, and some articles that are featured online do get published in a print version as well. Many writers get their beginnings working for the local newspaper.

Those writers, editors, and everyone in between are still working to keep the print newspaper industry alive. And there are plenty of jobs in the print media industry apart from the two mentioned above that help keep the newspapers alive. Some of those jobs are photographers, salespeople, advertising executives, delivery people, printers, and those working in corporate positions that keep the publishing of the papers in check.

4. Local newspapers give the most specific information about local politics, economy and community issues.

This benefit is geared more towards local businesses promoting through local advertisements in the newspaper. Almost all national or statewide newspapers will not cover the most specific local events. For those that live in small towns, the only way to get news is through local publications.

Through local news, communities stay together, which is important to many people. Community events, local politicians, and charitable actions in a town encourage people to get involved in their local town.

Small businesses often rely on local papers to get the word across and increase their business. Overall, this may help the local economy improve. And local tax money will again go towards further improving those same businesses and infrastructure. And local newspapers help play an important role in this process.

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