Three and a half years ago when we relocated to Germany, life changed in many ways. The newspaper at our doorstep each morning was one element we missed a lot – the only English daily distributed in this region was International Herald Tribune, which, at 30 Euros a month, was a luxury we thought we could do without.
We adjusted our schedule to the new surroundings: breakfast was at our office desks, where the first half hour was spent browsing online newspapers and magazines, munching croissants and sipping orange juice. Thus, the familiar sight of The Hindu that greeted sleepy eyes each morning was replaced by its online sibling that popped up distracting ads in every corner of the screen.
We slowly got used to our altered sources of information, but the longing for print editions remained. So when the International Herald Tribune recently sent us a free four-week trial, I jumped at the offer and applied.
The last two weeks have seen a different routine taking shape. Breakfast is at home – Idlis and Dosas have replaced Croissants and Pretzels, thanks to my mother who is here on a short visit – and is accompanied by the silence that descends upon a room where two greedy souls pore into spreads of paper with news from far and wide. And since our interests are complementary (I go for the comic strips and sports first, while my wife looks into politics and general news) we manage without bisecting the sheets.
As it appears, we will continue with the paper beyond these four weeks. For someone who spends over forty hours a week glued to a computer, the lure of print media is substantial; I would welcome anything that helps me reduce the time I spend in front of a monitor.
(As an aside, that is an interesting thought, the idea about ways to reduce time spent online. I spend quite some time reading through blogs I like, so wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone comes up with a service that allows me to select from a list my favourite bloggers, and then have a weekly print edition of Blogger’s Digest delivered at my doorstep every Saturday? I’ll miss the comments and the links, yes, but I could catch up with those that interest me later, online.
The image of holding in my hands a neatly bound magazine containing write-ups from Alpha, Anita, Hekate, Leela, Patrix, Ph, Rash, and Unratiosenatic was so alluring that I stopped writing and checked whether these blogs offered RSS feeds (a mechanism that allows tools to scan them for updates and inform subscribers periodically). I found that but for Hekate and Rash, all others offer syndication, which meant posts from these could be aggregated weekly, printed each Friday and taken home for the weekend!)
Another factor that influences my preference for news-on-print is mobility: I can carry around a newspaper or magazine anywhere, read it in any corner. However, with the advent of Wi-Fi hotspots, one can imagine a day when we can carry around a Tablet PC and get online in most urban surroundings. While that may tilt the balance further away from print media, it surely cannot be a substitute for those crispy pages, which, as one advertisement suggested, slip in the world under your door.
My mother agrees, for different reasons though. She uses old newspapers to sift through rice and flour, keep ends of vegetables while cutting them, and make packets to store odds-and-ends. “Will your computer help in these matters?” she asks, in proud defence of paper.
Indisputable logic, that. One even the smart marketing people of International Herald Tribune would not have thought of when they sent out those irresistible free-trials.