By Brian Whitmore
“He's an old hippie
And he don't know what to do
Should he hang on to the old
Should he grab on to the new”
- Bellamy Brothers, “Old Hippie,” 1985
Change is a constant and the Internet has changed our world.
The Internet has done a lot of good for the world, but also a lot of harm. And it’s happened fast.
What would become the internet was in place in the ‘80s, but the World Wide Web, as we know it, was birthed in 1990 by computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee. By 1995 the Internet was commercialized.
I graduated from USC Upstate in 1995. As a communications major, my emphasis was journalism. We had computer labs, but the Internet was just a new fad.
My newspaper career started in 1996. I remember laughing with coworkers about the World Wide Web – “It will never catch on.”
We were wrong. And now we live in a digital world.
Here are a few ways the Web has changed our lives. It’s had both a positive and negative impact …
Television: Now we stream video over the Internet. I know people that only watch Netflix now. That hurts television providers, cable and satellite.
I’m old-school. I still have Dish.
Telephones: Few people have landlines anymore. I don’t. We take our calls on a smartphone, or at least our texts and emails. But I miss landlines. It was a simpler time. When you were away from home or the office, you had a break from people.
Movies: Yes you can still go to Family Video or Redbox to rent a movie, but most people stream movies these days. But you know, I miss Video King. Netflix makes it easier, but I miss browsing VHS tapes for hours.
Books: Mom and Pop bookstores are mostly gone. Barnes & Noble remains. I prefer reading a book, not a computer screen. The smell of books, the feel of books, the ambiance of the store is something you can’t replicate on Amazon.
Music: I still purchase CDs. I’ve tried digital music downloads. I don’t like it. I want to hold the album in my hands. I want to read the liner notes. And if I lose my phone, I don’t lose my music library. Maybe that’s why vinyl is making a comeback.
Maps: I’ve always loved geography. I love maps. GPS is great and it helps with trips, but I still plan trips the old fashioned way. I just like to map out my route with paper and a pen.
Encyclopedias: Now students can Google before they write research papers. Back in the day, we went to encyclopedias. It was harder doing research, using the Dewey decimal system and books, but we are probably better off for it.
Retail stores: Everybody is buying stuff on the Internet. A lot of retailers are closing their brick and mortar stores, most recently Toys “R” Us. As a kid, I would browse the toy store. How sad, today’s children won’t have the same opportunity. We’ve still got Wal-Mart, but specialty stores are fading.
Photography: Digital is easier, but I miss 35mm film and dark rooms.
And now to the product you hold in your hands – a hometown newspaper.
You’ve probably heard: “Print is dead.” You’ve heard wrong. Obviously it’s not. You’re holding a print edition now.
Again, I’m old-school. I like holding the newspaper in my hand. Swiping a screen just isn’t the same.
The Clinton Chronicle is in print, online and on Facebook. We’ll give you news how you want it. I love the fact that we give you breaking news via MyClintonNews.com and Facebook.
Last Thursday, we broke a story on Rep. Mike Pitts introducing a bill to consolidate school districts in Laurens County. We were the first to break the story — before TV, radio, all media. Our new Facebook page is still young and gaining likes, but in 24 hours reached more than 6,000 people, directing them to our website for the breaking story.
I love the Internet for breaking news.
A more in-depth story appears in today’s paper. We broke the story online and now in print we give you the meat of the story and an editorial against this lunacy.
That’s what I love about newspapers, we can do both Internet and print and do both well.
Print will always be a big part of the newspaper equation, especially in small communities.
Large market print newspapers may fade, but not hometown newspapers.
We’ve weathered the storm of television and radio. We’re weathering the storm of the World Wide Web.
Your hometown newspaper’s print edition is still the best way for an advertiser to reach the most people for the least cost. It’s still the way to find out what is happening in your town – television reporters only come when something bad happens. It’s still the place to find out important events – weddings, engagements and more. And you’ll find out who has gone home to be with the Lord.
Nobody covers your community like the local newspaper. We are the watchdogs of government, making sure no deals are done behind closed doors (see above). We are a trusted and reliable source, not the “fake” news that abounds on Facebook.
All that for 75 cents, what a bargain. And there is nothing like the smell, the feel and the experience of the printed word.
I’m not anti-change or anti-technology. Thankfully, newspapers are both new-school and old-school. Both work together in harmony.
Brian Whitmore is publisher of The Clinton Chronicle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.