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The slow, sad death of the print newspaper – Audio Long Reads

In the UK and US, print circulations are in sharp decline. But what will we lose if they go?

By May Robson

The freelance journalist Tim de Lisle is a lifelong newspaper addict, and still buys two papers a day, three at weekends. In this elegy to their demise, he tracks his own love affair with them, from a schoolboy in search of the football results, to sports reporter, music critic and media studies lecturer. Is the future of news entirely digital, or could some form of print survive – as vinyl and cinema have survived streaming? 

In this rich, personal piece, De Lisle talks to industry-watchers and travels to Scotland to meet two of the UK’s most successful local newspaper editors. With print, one feels “released from the clammy embrace of the algorithm”, he writes. “You get past the cacophony of politics to read about real life, from families to food. It’s better for your mental health, your general knowledge, your membership of the human race.” But can anyone afford to fund it – and is its audience a dying breed? The singer Katy Perry, for one, hopes not. She recently tweeted: “One of my favorite [sic] sounds ever is the sound of a crisp new newspaper being read over breakfast for an hour or so… The popping out of it, the folding, the scribbling on the crossword… I hope it never goes out of fashion in our digital world. It is too romantic.”

Written by Tim de Lisle and read by Rachel Cunliffe.

This article was originally published on the on 15 April 2023, and in the 21-27 April print edition. You can read the text version here

If you enjoyed this episode, you may also enjoy listening to the battle for the soul of English cricket.

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