The Internet And Our Ever-Changing Reading Habits
Like many others, I did a *gasp* noise this week when I heard about the Independent print edition closing. Saddened, too. Twitter went mad with everyone sharing their memories. I just remembered mine: I wrote for the newspaper last year – on the front page it said “Why We Should Tell The Truth About Our Lives by Emma Gannon” – a piece I wrote about that one time I told a five minute story on stage, on a whim, at a Moth Story Slam (aka an open mic night for storytelling). I felt like it was the first time a print outlet had let me write something from the heart. And I was really proud of it. Sometimes you can’t beat that feeling of seeing something in physical form, sitting there on the shelf, waiting to be picked up and read by a passing stranger.
We really really are in the middle of one of the biggest media shifts of all time. Us, here, you and me right now, in the middle of it. Whether you are more of a consumer or a creator, how we interact and learn from the world is changing, rapidly. We love reading and watching quality content but we don’t necessarily mind too much where it comes from. The viral essay called Fuck Off Fund didn’t come via an established, age-old magazine, it was published on The Billford, a publication hosted on Medium. It’s 2016 and we have extremely high standards now when it comes to what editorial we consume; we’re grossed out if something is outdated, or if a website looks shit.
Are we as loyal to one magazine or newspaper? I read articles 24/7 but these come in from all different sources. From a quick survey with my friends, our RSS feeds killed off buying newspapers many moons ago. We don’t care where the video is hosted, we just want to watch the video. I don’t care if something is on Netflix, YouTube or DAVE as long as it’s good. Same with getting news, as long as it’s been verified. We’ve all been there when we’ve seen a tweet breaking the news and then 24 hours later we see a newspaper on a stand saying the same thing. When it comes to reading essays, I go where my favourite writers go. I’m more loyal to reading certain people, than I am to the publications themselves. Tavi Gevinson wrote something for ILY mag recently – a magazine I’d never heard of before. It didn’t matter that the magazine ~brand~ was so new; because Tavi had written something, and tweeted about it, I read it, and I liked it and I put a ring on it. We still need sources to verify news, but when it comes to creativity, I seek this out from very different places now.
New ventures are erupting from the soil every day. Blink and you’ve already missed something. New magazines, new ideas, new content, new apps, new algorithms. It’s a scary thing for people to lose or change jobs. We pretend to like change, but do we really? Scary for people who have only ever known one thing to be true. Scary for people in charge making big decisions. Scary for young people looking for jobs. Things are rising, things are falling – and it’s unpredictable. Nobody knows. Deep down inside my bones I know we are in a really exciting time. But “new” is sometimes synonymous with “feeling anxious”. Like many others, I am sentimental about print. I want to get lost in words on a physical page but it has to be relevant and on the pulse – just like the Internet never fails to be. We are constantly evolving and using new skills – we are all learning more and more every day about an industry that just won’t sit still. It’s up to us to educate ourselves, every single day. It’s exciting.
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