Print news as affective historical record

Last week the national daily The Independent announced that it would discontinue its print editions, going entirely on-line. As the economics of serious newspaper journalism become increasingly non-viable it is unlikely to be the last such casualty. By coincidence in my annual clear out I came across the collection of newspapers I bought the day after 9/11.

Nothing brought the impact of those events back as vividly as handling these aging and yellowing newspapers after so long. I showed them to my eldest daughter, who has just turned 17 and was just an infant at the time.. her reaction to these large printed images on fragile (visibly mortal) newsprint elicited a stunned silence and a request for the assurance that I would never throw them away.

I realised then that the particular impact of newsprint as a peculiar kind of affective emotional historical record is not just generational but intrinsic to the medium of newsprint. Although I am sure there are many other issues at stake in the direction the industry is taking the power of image journalism is one of the least talked about.