The death of newspapers has been predicted for about a century now. First, it was radio which was supposed to kill us. Then, television. Then the internet. Now, the mobile.
But, here’s the real reason why newspapers haven’t died—an anecdote reported by the Dorset County Chronicle, recorded by the novelist Thomas Hardy, and reproduced in the Facts by William Greenslade (Ashgate).
Some time in 1826 in Edinburgh, Scotland, two horsemen, the heads of rival county families, came face to face in a narrow lane.
Each asked the other to move aside, but both stood on ego and status, and neither would budge.
After a while, one of them produced a newspaper and proceeded to slowly read it from cover to cover, a process that took three to four hours.
As he read para after para, story after story, the reader expected his rival to get bored, tired or frustrated, and make way.
But, as he finished, the other horseman courteously asked if he might now borrow the newspaper!
No such social intercourse is possible between two TV or mobile or PDA or whatever owners.