Simon Kelner: Proof that the printed word is alive and kicking

Kelner's View

Share
Related Topics

Many of you will be reading these words in the traditional manner, by turning over the page of a newspaper, scanning the headline, and then reading the columnist's first paragraph before deciding that life is too short after all.

But bear with me, because I have news for you: while print is considered an outdated medium, not capable of matching the speed, accessibility and versatility of digital channels, it still occupies a central place in our culture.

That much was clear from the closing ceremony of the Olympics. The stage set had a newspaper motif, with famous references from English literature – for example, "To be or not to be" or "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life" – being given a tabloid headline makeover. The cars were covered with newsprint, and the song performed by Emeli Sandé, "Read All About It", put newspapers at the centre of this celebration of all that's great about Britain. "You've got the words to change a nation/ But you're biting your tongue," sang Miss Sandé, as direct a challenge to some of the nations competing in the Olympics as George Michael's rendition of "Freedom". "I wanna sing, I wanna shout/ I wanna scream till the words dry out/ So put it in all of the papers/ I'm not afraid/ They can read all about it."

This was powerful advocacy of the potency of the printed word to change the status quo, or to free people from repression, and was in direct contrast to the opening ceremony, which was all about Wi-Fi, Facebook and the speed and reach of modern communication.

A friend explained to me the other day the qualitative difference between reading a book, a newspaper or a magazine, and reading the same content on screen. One is a "lean back" experience, associated with pleasure, relaxation and enjoyment, and the other is a "lean forward" experience, which is sometimes seen as an extension of a day job.

 For those of us who read newspapers, this is all good, as are the reports that all national titles (and particularly this one) received a hefty circulation boost over the Olympics. Here was an event that is covered in such depth, and with such professionalism by the BBC, and yet people went in ever-increasing numbers to their newsagents so that they could pore over the written word. Those TV montages are brilliantly constructed, but it seems the British public are not yet ready to forsake some well-written, hard-headed analysis in favour of an array of images calculated to catch the mood of a lachrymose nation.

There were many things to enjoy in that closing ceremony, but among the Spices, the human cannonballs, the sad tribute bands and the endless Kate Bush, there were one or two messages that director Stephen Daldry had planted. If one was a belief in the primacy of the written word, and its ability to effect change and inspire freedom, I won't be resentful about investing those three hours of my life on Sunday night.

 

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager / Section Manager - Airport Security

£40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a critical role within the secur...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45-55k

£20000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company is an established, ...

Recruitment Genius: E-Commerce Manager - Fashion Accessories

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Senior / Assistant Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Exciting new position available at an independ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
V&A museum in London  

Celebrating the cultural impact of PR at the V&A

Danny Rogers
 

Daily catch-up: will this be the election result? And other Questions To Which The Answer Is No

John Rentoul
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn