Today is Sunday. Many of us love reading our Sunday papers while enjoying a cuppa. It's such a comforting ritual.
We have had newspapers around us for as long as we have lived. If that is about to change soon, are you ready?
The history of newspapers dates back to the 16th century when the use of the term 'newspapers' became common. Comparatively, Singapore has a shorter history of less than two centuries. About 180 years ago, The Singapore Chronicle, the first newspapers in Singapore, was first issued on 1 Jan 1824. It later folded up in Sep 1837.
The Straits Times is the oldest and leading newspaper in circulation today in Singapore. According to the latest Nielsen Media Index, it is leading with daily readership of 39%. That is followed by TODAY with 17%.
Everyday, 3 sets of newspapers will be delivered to my house: The Straits Times, TODAY and MyPaper. The latter two are free papers. These papers get their glory for a day before they retire into a dim corner in the yard. Some of these dailies are still in mint condition when they become irrelevant as no one has read them at all.
Typically, each household will subscribe to at least one major newspapers. It is either The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao, Berita Harian and for some, Tamil Murasu or The New Paper. Some would add evening papers such as Lianhe Wanbao and Sin Min Daily on to their daily 'collections'.
As if what we have subscribed at home is not enough, some very eager hired distributors will shove a copy of TODAY or MyPaper on our way to work. When we reach our office, another copy of Business Times will be there waiting.
Most of these papers are eventually discarded within the same day. This is repeated daily in my house and in about 1 million other households in Singapore and millions more around the world. So much paper is thrown away like that every day.
Such a waste!
In the Nielsen survey, it was observed that despite the increased the Internet usage, newspapers continued to be a "staple in the news diet for three quarters of the population". It is not difficult to imagine the mountain heap of papers we discard every day. It is really not a very green thing to do.
How long is this going to go on and how many more trees are we going to kill? Perhaps not very long (I hope...)
The plastic electronic newspaper will be hitting the street in UK next year. The device looks just like a table mat and it is as light as a magazine. With every part of the product, from the screen to the electronics, made of plastic, the newspaper is said to be "very robust".
It has similar visual appeal as your paper newspapers and you can download onto it hundreds of newspapers. At the touch of a button, you get to browse through articles with ease without elbowing the guy next to you in a sardine-packed morning train.
The main point here is that, the devise is reusable. This could potential help to address the ever-pressing waste problems associated with the traditional paper-medium newspapers.
Will the readers warm up to the new way of reading newspapers? Will the plastic electronic newspapers be seen as too bizarre to be acceptable? Will we stick to the conventional newspapers simply because we like the smell and feel of papers?
I would expect some initial resistance to the new way of reading newspapers. Beyond that, it will be hard to gauge if this is going to be just another fad or a 'no turning back' phenomenon.
Only time will tell.
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