A farewell to the physical realm

Jack May 24 April 2015

This time last year, The Cambridge Student (briefly) made headlines by allegedly ceasing its print editions permanently and fleeing to the internet. This was, of course, not the case. However, we will be taking a short break from the physical realm once again this Easter, as exams loom and staff numbers dwindle.

The advantages of becoming an entirely online newspaper are obvious; we will be faster and greener than ever, and accessible via your laptop rather than the weekly pilgrimage to the college JCR. One of the things I’m regularly asked (as someone who has sacrificed his Facebook dignity upon the greedy altar of student journalism) is why TCS continues to put out a print edition the rest of the year at all. In the modern era of 24-hour news media, the tyranny of Twitter, and The Tab, waiting seven days to catch the latest news seems unbearably quaint. Surely it would be for the best of us all if we simply cut loose the relic of a bygone era that must cause far more problems than it solves.

But no. Perhaps it’s the historian in me, but I think there will always be a place for the real, physical, studentnewspaper. Much as the Kindle has abjectly failed to replace the humble paperback, which in turn has not quite got rid of the mighty hardback, so the internet is best seen as a mere supplement to the broadsheet.

A print edition must be perfect when it goes out, because copies of it will bear your name for the rest of your life; it forces the reader to slow down and appreciate prose rather than serving up another slice of clickbait. Along with this is the tangible feel of an artefact that has been created from the sweat and tears (we are saving the blood for May Week) of a tightly knit team of strangers united against the deadline makes it far more special. Furthermore, dozens of professional journalists got their first taste of print media within the doors of TCS towers; crafting a print edition provides invaluable experience for everyone involved.

In some ways, yes, the genie is already out of the bottle. We will never return to the golden age of the newspaper, and the thrill of being first to an online scoop is undeniable. But for as long as it is feasible, I hope that TCS will be putting out a print edition. Until May Week then, I hope that we can continue to provide the best of both online and offline worlds. Hopefully, see you on the other side.