Newspapers are very important in many ways. They give us lots of information about various matters at various levels that are not available anywhere. Though magazines and books also give lots of information, the scope of the news there is limited to a few selected topics. In short, newspapers inform, educate and entertain the public in every sphere of life.
Televisions and internet connections that provide news faster than the newspapers cannot have the width, breadth and depth of the newspapers and do not provide the comfort of repeated references at our leisure and comfort apart from harming our eyes because of the glare and being the source of health hazards because of radiations.
People of all profession need newspapers. Engineers, doctors, scientists, professors and other professionals need them to know the day-to-day developments in their respective fields. Businessmen need newspapers to keep in touch with the economic and commercial trends in the country and see current share prices.
Politicians need them to read recent political events in the country. Others read newspapers to know how changes around them affect their life. Students read newspapers to broaden their knowledge and keep abreast of the recent developments in various fields, be it in politics, economics, science, sports or art and culture. Newspaper is an important tool of the learning process for students.
Although some people in Sierra Leone will tell you I don’t like newspapers because of so and so, but they still read when someone buys or when they want to check for advertisements. It doesn’t matter whether they buy, but what matters is they read because the number of people who read newspapers are about five times the ones who actually buy.
In their privileged conversation you will hear them say for example I read in the Awoko newspaper that salary increment will take place this month or that the British Foreign Secretary will visit Sierra Leone, even though they don’t buy or credit but still they pick up news that they think interests them and pass it on.
Reading newspapers everyday is a must for both students and adults for growth and enlightenment irrespective of class or field of their life. Reading newspapers everyday is highly educational, and newspapers are an important informal educationist. One can ignore this important function of life at his or her own peril.
Advertisements in newspapers are also very informative and give lots of information about the world around us and recent trends apart from being very entertaining. The editorials and the articles in the editorial page of the newspapers are always very analytical and give insight to the news and their background.
“Nulla nuova, buona nuova” meaning no news is good news is a famous Italian usage. It may be true in the ambience of too much news of disturbing nature pouring in from all directions all the time. But, news is very good for active life. None can ignore the surroundings in which he lives. Only news keeps us in touch with the surroundings in which we live. It gives us the insight to the dynamics that form the environment around us, be it in local or regional or national or international level. Keeping doors shut from news, renders us deadwood and leads to isolation from the world around us and ultimately to lack of information.
The main conveyor of news is a newspaper. Though there are many other sources of news like magazines and books in print media, radio and television channels and Internet connections in electronic media, words of mouth and telephone and wireless communications etc, no other source ever could come near the newspaper in importance.
It is true of the past and the present and it is true of the future also. Neither the advent of the television nor that of the Internet could affect the importance of the newspaper. Although the sales and speed of news have been affected, the accuracy for posterity are still intact up till now. The reason for this is the width, breadth and the depth of the news provided by the newspaper, its low cost and the ease of providing the news at our leisure and comfort as many times as we desire.
Newspapers also play an important part in keeping the people of the world informed about the troubles that might arise in the future, if nothing is done to prevent them from happening. For example, Newspapers in Sierra Leone kept the entire populace well informed about the rebel war, and I fully remember a particular day when we went to Waterloo and we were told the rebels had attacked them in the morning, we published that story that people should be aware because the war was now at Waterloo, but the government downplayed the story, six days later the rebels entered Freetown to everyone’s surprise. This is the role of a newspaper to keep people informed and for them to take necessary measures in case things went wrong.
As a source of news, the newspaper is almost indispensable to those whose thirst for knowledge is insatiable. They contain news on events in distant corners of the earth. Information about such events arrives almost immediately. As a result, people everywhere are informed about the most important event in the world very quickly and almost at the same time. For example, the just concluded US elections was published by many newspapers in Sierra Leone and China, daily to keep the readers informed from the beginning till Barack Obama was declared the winner by the media.
There are thousands of newspapers all over the world. Everywhere there is a keen desire to learn more and more about the affairs of the world. This is partly the result of the spread of education which sharpens one’s curiosity to learn about distant lands.
Even though information is available to anyone at the push of a button, a turn of the dial, and now, the click of a mouse, newspapers have had to adapt in order to continue to please and inform their audiences. Due to the continuing change of views and preferences of our society, newspapers have taken on different roles in order to satisfy these changes. The newspapers in Sierra Leone have different styles of providing information. Each of them covers certain events and issues in certain ways, thus making each paper appeal to a specific audience.
Some papers now print in colors, others have increased the number of pages, while others have been doing promotions like quiz to attract more readership. More columns like entertainment, jokes, puzzles etc. are all used to improve sales as well as more advertisements.
No matter what, newspapers would continue to play a pivotal role in the dissemination of news and events throughout the world. Financially, newspapers are facing constraints and have to be more offensive in the market. Everyday editors have to be thinking of how to make the paper more attractive to face the stiff competition in the market.
In Sierra Leone, most editors are satisfied with their current status and also the paper because they do not think of new ideas or try to change their style in this 21st century, which will make their papers gain more sales or respectability. There are papers in the country that started publishing for decades and up till this time they don’t even think of going on line or improving the contents with more reader friendly columns other than politics and smearing campaigns.
The more readers the paper gets the more adverts and respectability it will gain and will make the paper very reliable and important to all. Newspapers are very important in every society as it bridges the gap between the public and governments and give chance to everybody to air out his or her views. In the Maoist period of China when Mao Zedong was the leader he developed many newspapers that he used to sell his doctrines all over the country and beyond.
It is the same now in the modern era where democracy reigns, all the governments make sure that the media especially the newspapers have the required and correct information to pass on to the public at the right time. They can’t do without the newspaper as they know how important a newspaper can be. SLPP lost out because of the publications that were coming out of newspapers not what radio was reporting.
I am sure that up till this time most of them will keep certain publications for posterity and when the time comes they will always refer to those publications. We the journalists need to know that the newspaper is very important to a nation and we should always strive to give them what they deserve by publishing unbiased reports, stories and also light hearted columns that will release stress from officials after a day’s work. Newspapers will always be on the street even after we depart this earth as it has been some 200 years ago.