College Students are Mobile, so Our Newspapers Should be, Too
As a college student in this ever changing, modern, digital-driven world, I felt the need to explore the different ways people get their information from the New York Times. I read the Times in print, on my iPhone, and on my laptop to gauge the affects the different viewings had on my comprehension, annotation techniques, and overall ease of access.
I began with the mobile version since my phone is just about glued to my hand. The iPhone has an app specifically for newspapers and magazines which allows the reader to move throughout the newspaper with ease. I opened my app and immediately went to the "Sunday Review" section with just a swipe of my forefinger and chose the article "Pompom Girl for Feminism" by Maureen Dowd. I read the article on the CTA train while making my way to the DePaul Loop Campus, and found the app to be extremely beneficial; it allows you to save the article so you can read it later, and even links it to your account so you can access the saved article from any media source. You can also highlight certain text to copy it, which is how I annotated the article. I would copy and paste the phrase into the notes app and then just continue on my way through the article. Obviously this was a very accessible way to read the Times, I did not have to flip through the whole paper, or worry about folding it over and over so that I did not give any other CTA rider a paper cut! As for comprehension, I felt I could understand the article a better since the layout of the mobile version is much less distracting than that of the print version. The print tends to be very distracting, ads pop out at you, and the titles of other articles often cause me to stray from the original piece, which ultimatley causes a lack of comprehension!
I then went to the online version which was actually turned out to be more distracting and incomprehensible than the print version! Th
ere are even more ads, and instead of recommended articles being at the bottom of the page -like the mobile version- they stand at the sides with eye-catching graphics that makes it hard to focus. This, and the glaring computer screen, resulted in a lack of thorough comprehension with the online version of the Times. As for annotating, I will admit that it was far easier than having to switch back and forth between iPhone apps. Instead, I used the sticky notes program where I could make notes about the article as I went through it. Though it is not directly attached to the article itself, I did find it to be far more feasible.
[NYT web site and my notes via MS Notepad]
And the print, oh the print version. Now, apart from having to lug it around-yes a newspaper does get heavy- you also have to be the obnoxious person making all the crinkling noises as you fold and unfold the paper. I have always found its size to be uncomfortable to handle since I do not have arms long enough to easily hold up the whole paper at once. As for comprehension, I am obviously a child of the technology age, because the second I attempt to read an article, my mind tells me that it is a book and I must stop. Then to top it off, the way the article is positioned in the paper just makes my brain sputter. I find scrolling through and seeing it in a sort of list format rather than staggered and more often than not, split between multiple other pages, helps me more. Admittedly, this version is the best for annotating; all you do is grab a pen and voila! all your notes are in one place.
Through these experiences, I have decided that the mobile version is the best one, at least for my own use. Other people will probably have different views on this. I will most likely keep my membership with the Times, except I will limit it to strictly online use rather than receiving the newspaper every Sunday. I think that it would be best to use the digital versions in the WRD classes, mainly because we are a digital class; all of our assignments are online and most all communication is through online portals. It seems silly not to use the digital version when the whole class has gone digital already.