Cong Corrales .
NEWSPAPERS were an integral part of our mornings when I was growing up in Gusa. Mornings with my late father consisted of coffee, cigarettes, and newspapers. Yes, you read it correctly. Plural, as in, newspapers.
My father, Emilio, used to say that no one newspaper could cover the different nuances of each news beats. That’s why he always bought several newspapers. Each morning, he’d buy copies of Malaya, Manila Bulletin, Philippine Daily Inquirer (although, I think it was called differently then), and that other newspaper with Gat Lapu-lapu in the middle of its masthead.
Emilio told me each newspaper was good at telling a particular news. Like, one newspaper would be smashing with reporting on the current economics of the country while another would be woefully inept on it but great at reporting political dynamics. So, at the tender age of 11, Emilio had taught me how to spot a newspaper’s niche in the reporting world.
The reason why I have been babbling about newspapers is that a week ago, I heard a scary news. A subsidiary of a major newspaper has supposedly closed down. I said supposedly because it turned out that the regional newspaper is still up and running but its printing presses for Visayas and Mindanao have shut down. Still, a devastating news, depressing at that since I have been in the newsprint medium for the better part of my life.
However, truth be told, the newsprint medium isn’t the first and only news medium I’ve dabbled in. I used to work besides Emilio when he was the news director of GMA-TV 12, back when the franchise belonged to the Saragas. I was an eager high school student writing news articles for the news anchors to read. Only Emilio knew I was writing some news items. It was part of a writing exercise my father made me do. That’s why the news anchors Joyce Ann and even my own brother Enrique Luis didn’t know that some of the news they were reading were mine.
Not too long ago, I worked as the multimedia producers for the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. I was in charge of the content of our institutional blog, made data visualizations, information graphics, and of course, investigative reports. Our products were mostly published online except for sometimes when major newspapers and TV networks would feature them in their respective platforms.
How could this be happening? The print medium is the oldest medium. It is at least hundreds of years old. It predates radio, TV, and now, the internet. I have read and heard of the “eventual death” of the print medium. I have been denying myself this fact because it’s too painful for me to even consider.
Last year, Tony Rogers wrote about the grim prospects of the newspaper industry. “For anyone interested in the news business, it’s hard to avoid the sense that newspapers are at death’s door. Every day brings more news of layoffs, bankruptcies, and closings in the print journalism industry.”
Here, Alfonso Pedroche, Philippine Press Institute chairman, writes: “The supply of newsprint runs short as the number of trees, from where a paper is derived dwindles fast. As a result, the cost of newsprint rises to an exorbitant proportion even as the prices of other wherewithals in newspaper or magazine production (such as ink) are turning almost prohibitive.”
Anybody who is in the newspaper business knows this to be true. That’s why most newspapers have their digital copies online nowadays. A friend told me last week that the written word is still king. It’s only the medium in which it is packaged is changing.
Call me sentimental but, for me, nothing beats the smell of ink on a freshly printed newspaper hot off the press. I love the sound the newspaper makes when you spread them with both hands to see better see the center spread. I love the choice of fonts each newspaper chooses. Don’t even get me started on the layouts. That’s where I started my newspaper career. I was a layout artist of one of the local daily newspapers in the city. That was when I met my mentors. That was when I met my current editor-in-chief. He used to be that newspaper’s city section editor.
So, the news that the newspaper industry is dying or stands to be taken over by online platforms is devastating to me.
But I take solace in Pedroche’s last sentence in his article titled “Is print media dying?”: “Though there are great hurdles along the way resulting from the vicissitudes of the modern times, print media shall continue struggling to survive.”
There is no doubt it is on its way out. That part I have now come to terms with. Call me a hopeless romantic but I’ve always had an affinity with the print medium. I know it is in trouble and it is dying out as a news platform. But I’m riding it out until its bitter end.