Today we have seen the end of an era with the final printed version of The Independent. It is still a shock to me to see a national newspaper disappear from the newsagents shelves and only to be available online. For some people they will be claiming this is the beginning of the end for printed newspapers. That is something that has been said for years as people have predicted technology will change everything.
I may be ‘old-fashioned’ but I still love to receive a newspaper through the letterbox first thing in the morning. I might have already watched 24 hour rolling news, checked social media and reviewed digital alerts but having news printed on paper somehow has more gravitas. It is the same feeling I get when I hold a copy of a book rather than hold my iPad to read the same material.
The news industry has changed substantially in the past 20 years. I spent time in nearly every newspaper office in the North West of England when I was training and when I finally got my first job as a reporter I was using a typewriter and carbon paper. It was a weekly newspaper and every Wednesday we would see the words and pictures come together in the traditional way. We would proof the layouts as they were set out across a large room and cutting really did mean getting out a knife.
It taught me a lot. You learn to get things right first time when you start writing a story to avoid having to keep typing and also wasting paper and carbon paper. You needed to work quickly and accurately to get the paper together with a really small team. As we were a small team against bigger opposition, in terms of advertising, we had to try and find different angles on stories that a daily paper may have already covered.
I enjoyed working as a reporter but when I talk to people in the job now I am not sure it would be as much fun. There is inevitable pressure to meet the 24/7 nature of news, a focus on making digital headlines and for many the newspaper is secondary to the website.
The digital world may be changing things but there will always be a place for good old-fashioned news gathering and analysis. Reporters have a key role to play in society highlighting injustice, opening our eyes to events around the world, and challenging authorities. We may have lost one of the dailies but I am sure that there will always be a place for newspapers in whatever form they take.
I was in London when The Independent started… I remember their slogan “The Independent it is. Are you?”