When it comes to reading about current affairs, I have had a mixed diet of free local publications, the commuter paper and perhaps the rare Sunday paper at someone else’s house; rather than the regular habit and expense of buying a daily newspaper. The digital age opened various channels to receive and access news; most of it for free. There was no need to buy newspapers I could access what I wanted, when I wanted it, job done.
When I decided to let my creativity out to play and focus on a writing career, surprisingly all roads led back to print, so I dipped in with 3 monthly publications on; writing, current affairs and psychology for the Writing for Television Masterclass. I ignored the expense, chalked it up to research and patted myself on the back for choosing well as I settled into some good reads.
The copywriting course rightly steered me back to more traditional print paid for by advertising, so I bought a daily newspaper and was immediately annoyed with the whole experience (the self-service till would not scan it so I had to queue to pay for it). The last time I read newspapers on a daily basis was whilst commuting (and it was free). Reading print on the daily commute was perfect – even though it was dead time, it felt like time well spent because at least I was abreast of what was going on. Besides, there is not much else you can do within the confines of a packed train.
I had forgotten that newspapers have to cover a broad spectrum; most of them have a unique voice that takes time to get in tune with. Compared with reading news online, you cannot adjust the zoom or quickly get to the bits you’re interested in. There are no spoiler alerts, you cannot click away quickly. I accidentally got sucked into a review about the latest Mary Queen of Scots film revealing an aspect I was unaware of and it has ruined what would have been an unexpected surprise. This detail was skipped in the trailers, which focussed in on scenery and costumes. Engaging with online material is mostly visual – a selection of images are scrolled through quickly, sometimes merging into one stream of thought and easily forgotten. Reading print is different, especially when you have paid for the pleasure, I feel more obligated to read every article to get my money’s worth. In print, I am more aware of the person who wrote the article. You can instantly see that person’s name and photograph, almost imagine them talking to you as you read. I do not read in the same way online and for the sake of my eyesight and posture, that is a good thing. For me, reading print requires time, effort, a comfortable seating position and space to spread out. I do not want any distractions, just quiet time to absorb and digest everything. I could not remember when last I afforded myself that kind of time to read a newspaper or magazine; usually, it’s a quick flick through pages at the doctor’s surgery. This time it felt like an indulgent pastime, maybe because I enjoyed it so much.
When I opened the recently purchased magazine (having quickly fallen out with the newspaper) it was with the premise of looking for course-related adverts, but I found, and was drawn to inspirational and uplifting stories that lightened my mood, made me feel better, and more included. In the past, I told myself the reason I didn’t buy magazines was the lack of common ground with them. I was only wasting time and money living vicariously through these amazing people with their unique stories that I could not reach or be part of. This was no longer true. I was quite stunned by this realisation but pleased it reaffirmed my position as heading somewhere, towards something, hopefully, better.