I’ve been thinking about how we read the news, and how the “device” we use affects how much we read. And that affects how much we learn about the world.
I think that reading news in print is better than reading online. Here are two important reasons:
- Getting hooked by a story. Look at a printed page, and you get a lot of information; not so online. The extra text in print can get my attention, even if the headline doesn’t. And paging through the paper provides a backup — when I get to the jump page, sometimes the continuation of the story gets my attention, even if the first view of it didn’t. The homepage and section homepages online generally have a headline and a sentence or two; that’s not always enough to draw me in to a story.
- Is this new news or old news? Today’s print paper is today’s paper. Today’s online newspaper is a mix of new stories and old. I was shocked one time to find that I was starting to read a story from a couple of months earlier.
Here are some examples from a recent day’s news. Click an image to blow it up, but look from this bird’s-eye view first and get an idea of how much information each medium initially provides. I think that’s important.
This is not meant to be exhaustive, nor scientific. But you have to start somewhere. What do you think about reading online vs reading print, especially for news?
The New York Times. Available in these formats: A new Web app. The Web site offers two versions: one is current news, I believe, while the other is the day’s print paper online. The Times Reader app may no longer be supported, but it was when I captured these images.
The Boston Globe. At the time of these screen captures, there was a Web site, an app and the print version.
The Boston Herald. This is unique because readers see more information with the online front pages than in print.