What do students prefer reading — online or print news? An anecdotal response

After spending a couple of months teaching the basics of interviewing and news writing skills to my beginning journalism class — using daily reading logs from the print edition of Boise’s local newspaper as part of the process — I introduced its web edition, and asked my students which they preferred getting their news from.

Specifically, I asked:  What for you is the difference between reading the print edition and the online edition? And, which do you prefer?

I assumed that once we went digital in class with the news reading process, that my younger journalists would instantly want to read the digital news from that point forward.  I was wrong.  Many of them still prefer the print edition.

Because I had also asked them to record their regular daily reading journal on a shared Google Docs, I learned how much more interactive such daily news journals can be.  It was easier for me to grade, and there was so much more acknowledgement and engagement among and between readers about their opinions and insights.  I don’t think I’ll ever go back to a paper journal; it takes a lot of time to grade and write comments, and lacks the timely feedback that keeps students engaged.

Is print dying?  Will on-line be the way of the future?  If this generation has anything to do with the lifespan of print news, it will more likely remain a choice .

Sample comments:

I prefer the newspaper much more. Even though at times it may be messy and sort of confusing. the computer tends to hurt my eyes, and make me squint a lot. The one thing about the computer is that it’s very distracting for me. I know there is always something different I could be doing as well as my given assignment. — sophomore

“The online version is easier to navigate, faster and more eco-friendly! I will absolutely choose the e version over the print version. I also don’t like the way the paper on the print version makes my hands feel. It feels dirty. However, I will miss the smell of the paper because it smells really nice.” — sophomore

“The online version is easier to navigate, faster and more eco-friendly! I will absolutely choose the e version over the print version. I also don’t like the way the paper on the print version makes my hands feel. It feels dirty. However, I will miss the smell of the paper because it smells really nice.” — sophomore

“The online version is better if you need to quickly access a story, or if you want to find more stories that the paper may not have. It makes it easier to find things. However, reading a full story on a computer isn’t exactly something I prefer. Paper’s just easier on my eyes.” — sophomore

“I liked the online version because it was faster to navigate through different stories and it was more enjoyable to read because it was more flashy I guess.” — sophomore

“The printed version is easier for me to read. I dont like computers.” — sophomore

“Frankly I prefer both. Sitting with the print newspaper is nice and all, but having to fold the papers back and fold them this way and that makes it a pain to manage the paper when you’re trying to sort through it. When you’re going through the online one, it’s sometimes easier to manage and less of a hassle. It can be easier to sort through the stories as you go, and there’s more color that jumps out at you. Each section of the newspaper is better categorized and mostly easier to find and you’re given links to other sections of the story if you want to read up on another section that wasn’t directly mentioned in the story itself.” — senior

 “I find my self in between both newspaper and the website version. It’s easier to find things on the website than the newspaper. So I guess I prefer the website over the newspaper.” — sophomore

“I like both versions equally. Being on the Newspaper Staff, I am a huge part in the print version being printed but I also love the fact that we are a school who can reach out to all different kinds of people through the website. The website also has a tracking program so we can see how many people view our website. I love to see that people are actually reading what the journalists of Borah are writing and putting so much work into. Overall, my favorite is the print because I put so much work into it as the Advertising manager, staff writer, and a page editor. I love walking down the halls and seeing people be in awe of all the amazing stories. I also think that the facebook page ad helped get viewers on social media and all the little blurbs about going to borahsenator.com for more info/pics. I can’t wait to see what the next generation of journalists have to bring to the Borah Senator.” — senior
“I prefer the print version of the newspaper because it gives me the comfort of knowing that everything that is in the Newspaper that specific day is right in front of me. I won’t miss anything that is “lost on the internet” or on the Idahostatesman website, in other words.” — senior

3 thoughts on “What do students prefer reading — online or print news? An anecdotal response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *