The Decline Of The Printed Word

The Decline Of The Printed Word

In this modern age when a tech savvy populace has taken up wholesomely to the internet and the television set, newspapers have definitely taken a back seat. Be that as it may I firmly believe that the decline of the written word is definitely a reflection of the state of our society. Some might accuse me of prejudice as I am a fifty year old man who is still addicted to reading the newspaper over his morning cup of coffee.

There was a time around twenty-five years ago when the news in the paper happened to be a mix of many kinds of things, good and bad. We did not have so much negativity. Sensationalism was restrained and standards of ethics were followed by journalists. There used to be a strict code of conduct for journalists and false information was not spread in order to gain oneupmanship over your competition.

The standard of news topics published today has generally deteriorated in order to increase the number of readers. Quality has taken a backseat over quantity. The rigorous research behind articles, the strict adherence to ethical standards, have all been sacrificed in the altar of acquiring popularity and more readers.

When I open the newspaper nowadays there is a bevy of negative news. Bengaluru rape, Hyderabad horror, IPL scam and numerous such headlines hit the eyes striking a horrendous note about the society we live in. Is it true that nothing good at all is happening around us or is it a deliberate attempt to write only things that capture the reader’s morbid imagination? I suspect the latter.

I am not saying that crime and corruption should not be brought to people’s notice. After all what else is a newspaper for? But I feel it is in the interests of the society at large that a balance is struck between good and bad news.

Standards of books have also deteriorated. This is perhaps because people have taken to the internet in order to learn anything and everything. Ask any youngster to learn something new and the first thing he does is to search for a tutorial in google. So much so that there is talk of introducing the word googling in the dictionary. It is sad that the era of picking up a detailed book and referring to the written word for learning the finer nuances of any subject is now dying.

Mind you, I am not against technological advances, being a programmer and writer of computer code myself. I have worked on the computer field for a long time but I cannot help reminiscing about a more leisurely age when reading used to be an avowed method of learning.

What is it that has lead to this decline of the printed word? Well for one thing people are in a hurry. Television journalism has taken center stage and it brings news right into the drawing room. There are 24X7 channels that sensationalize things and serve news as a potpourri of masala and mix. People are addicted to the television sets while eating, while they are in their beds trying to sleep. In order to compete with this, the newspapers also have to resort to reprehensible tactics.

Similarly when it comes to learning, people are in a hurry to get to the root of things. When I see youngsters trying to learn a computer language, they are interested in getting to first base as quickly as possible and immediately search for the quickest means of learning without getting to know the internal plumbing which is the basis on which a computer language is built. The urge to get into the nitty-gritties of a subject which a book provides is simply not there.

The need and the itch to get a thorough understanding of topics that a book would give is missing.

Well, I might sound like an old man nostalgic about a bygone era but I assert firmly that it definitely is not good for a society to get rid of man’s ancient source of learning viz the printed word.

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