CONFUCIUS once said: “No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”

In one of our subjects, our professor observed how Filipinos do not seem to have the habit of reading newspapers and asked us the causes for this. I thought at first it was a simple question for discussion, but it opened another question: does it have a definite answer?

The 21st century is the flowering of technological advancements from little things to unexpected discoveries.

I observed that many Filipinos, mostly students, are attached to products brought by new technology such as Ipads, Android phones, and laptops. I am not even shocked when my nephew, who is a pre-elementary student, asked me to open my laptop for him to update his Facebook account. The same goes with my niece who used to keep me posted of what are the new trends in the online world.

Articles published in the newspapers can also be accessed online. One may even read news from his Ipad or phone, anytime and anywhere he wants. This is the new trend and we must embrace it. But the question is: do we have to forget the traditional print media and become consumed by new trends?

Nowadays, a person who has a computer or laptop with an Internet connection would probably prefer to read news articles from the web rather than buying newspapers (which usually amount to P18 to P20 per copy). It is mainly because the general circulation newspapers offer online sources of news through its official websites. The same situation goes with broadcast media as the television networks have their official websites where news videos and other materials are posted.

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Yes, it is true to say that it is more convenient to read news online than buy a newspaper. But we must consider that most online press are lax. Many Internet news are from broadcast and even then publications which have online staff are not as well-trained as print.

Print practices gatekeeping; copies are edited and lapses are admitted in the erratum box.

Moreover, print provides more comprehensive and thoughtful news. How can gatekeeping be applied to the online world when almost all have access of the Internet and can share news using their own accounts?

Another possible reason for the decline of readership of newspapers is the establishment of what they called as “electronic media,” the radio and the television.

Radio and television offer the viewers and listeners the information offered by print media to its readers which have both advantages and disadvantages. Many Filipinos choose to hear and watch the news through television rather than through newspapers.

We must take into consideration that news stories presented in electronic media are less detailed than the news in the newspapers. In electronic media, only few stories are chosen to be reported because of the limited air-time.

We are now living in a world with what people usually refer to as the “new media” or the multimedia. It is a convergence of broadcast, digital, press, and online which involved Internet, mobile phones, e-mail, and social media.

Print is more literate while the new media would be a proof of the warning of Marshall Macluhan that the electronic media (now transmogrified into the new media) would produce “the new illiteracy.”

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The habit of not reading newspaper is a big issue to address. If this habit persists in our culture, it will bring an immense impact in the print media industry. We must consider that as we read the newspapers, we do not just get sufficient information but we improve our reading comprehension, and language proficiency. In fact, newspapers widen our vocabulary.

I am not saying that the convenience brought by the electronic and new media must not be adopted. We must live with these new trends with specific limitations.

However, it is impossible in a culture like ours to totally forget the print media because newspaper will still be the top source of information.

Going back to what Confucius said, what will you choose: reading or just surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance? Confucius is right in saying that everyone must have at least time to read.


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