Having made the move from France a few months ago, I’ve rediscovered some truths that routine and convenience had made me forget: newspapers, for one. Not surprisingly, we lose touch with the news from back home when we move away. While feelings of patriotic pride remain strong, our link to our homeland’s daily events can’t help but fade. But thanks to digital, it’s entirely possible for me to keep in touch with French national news via media sites and readers such as Google News.
It doesn’t take long, however, to see the glaring lack of information hierarchy on the web – and yes, newspaper layout does play a large role – despite the efforts of real-time online news teams. When we no longer have easy and regular access to a paper edition dedicated to reporting the local news, the value of everything that happens from the writing desk right up to the finished product becomes blatantly clear.
I have never been convinced that PDF newspaper distribution had a future. And yet here I am, a loyal subscriber to the digital editions of Le Monde, Libé and l’Express – all of which have succeeded in implementing the perspective and information hierarchy found in a real newspaper. I didn’t think that I was addicted to newspapers, but maybe I am. It’s only now that I’m discovering how much a real newspaper helps me to understand the information presented. My “in-between” situation (not yet a junkie of local news and still addicted to my home country’s current affairs, void of paper access but compensated by PDF) allows me to think that there must be a third channel somewhere between an Internet site and a newspaper that will provide me with the same enjoyment of the news, but on a digital platform.
With all the existential questions circling newspapers these days, this third channel will undoubtedly be the future. I dream of a time when the layout and news hierarchy methods used by the big newspapers to produce their paper editions will be applied to a digital device (a tablet, perhaps?), scorning the automatic templates adopted by Internet press sites for economic reasons. A true information hierarchy. Video being put to good use. Interactive graphics. When this happens, that will be the day that online press 3.0 is born (with 2.0 for me being “historical” news enhanced by real-time reader comments).
Being six hours behind my home country, I enjoy the pleasure of reading digital editions on my iPad while they are still at press in France, transforming the morning paper into evening editions. And that, let me tell you, provides quite a change of perspective…