Photo by Emily Branson/Collegian: Vinyl records are making a comeback, outselling CDs for the first time in 30 years. Many fashionable trends from the 1980s and 1990s are popular among college students. Newspapers, however, are struggling to latch on to the retro comeback.

By Brooke Greene / Special to the Collegian

As the year 2020 gets underway, many see the varying forms of vintage pastimes or retro fashion being inverted back into society.

While walking through the Hutchinson Community College campus, one can easily spot scrunchies, overalls, bell-bottom jeans, round-lensed glasses, Game Boys, glass pop bottles, and even 90s hairstyles such as the love-it-or-hate-it mullet. Activities such as seeing a movie at a drive-in theater, ice skating, and going to the arcade to play games like “Donkey Kong” and “Pac-Man” are also growing more popular among younger generations.

Photo by Emily Branson/Collegian

With all of these retro habits making a comeback, the question is, what makes these styles or objects so much more appealing than things such as cassette tapes, black-and-white films, or the daily newspaper?

The newspaper is used more often in paper mache projects, or as a layer between the new puppy and the hardwood floors, than being flipped through by a reader in class.

The newspaper has a war to wage against the throwbacks of the 80s and 90s. With many pros and cons to the remaining presence of newspapers, society will soon have to choose whether to keep integrating it into our daily lives or to cut it and keep the newspaper strictly digital.

Interviews from students around campus and middle-aged citizens have helped demonstrate what opinions exist on what to do with the newspaper and why the print industry is struggling.

“It’s too retro, you have to sign up for it, or pay monthly subscription fees. It’s just easier to do it online,” said Jace Losew, Hutchinson freshman, about the unessential cost of the paper.

Print newspaper subscriptions can be high cost with annual fees, while online subscriptions are significantly cheaper due to the lack of the necessity of paper. For example, The Hutchinson News charges $7.95 a month for an online subscription while the monthly print subscription fee is $13 a month. In comparison with a larger town’s newspaper, The Wichita Eagle charges $9.99 a month for its unlimited digital newspaper access, and $23.97 per month for its daily newspaper. 

One of those media forms is more adjusted to the youthful generations, as online is far cheaper with less of a daily commitment to reading the paper.

Hunter Spoon, Yates Center freshman, said, “Newspapers are lame, totally not convenient and not cool.”

This opinion is aimed at how the comparison of retro fashion coming back versus battling the dying print newspaper comes into play.

Photo by Emily Branson/Collegian: A publication rack in Shears Technology Center holds many newspapers and magazines waiting to be picked up

Younger generations didn’t grow up reading the newspaper so they typically don’t see much worth fighting for.

“Vinyl records are cool because they are retro, newspapers are just old,” Spoon said.

With the idea that newspapers simply aren’t cool enough for the kids to worry about, it is clear that it is widely agreed that the older generations are the ones interested in keeping print newspapers around, and they are typically the ones paying those higher subscription fees. However, some are starting to see the trend of the struggling paper as well and have opened their wallets to the internet’s news instead.

Samantha Alleshouse, Hutchinson sophomore, said, “Social media has taken over the newspaper industry. The print paper just is not as instant.”

Alleshouse said social media is winning the battle in the fight for more loyal newspaper subscribers.

The online newspaper offers more convenience, efficiency, instant updates, is inexpensive and produces less waste, as many of the print papers just end up in the trashcan or the recycling bin.

Print papers are proving more and more to be an unnecessary aspect of life. However, they hold just as much history and stories to tell as any quick read on the internet does. The first American newspaper, known as “Publick Occurrences,” was introduced in 1689. It was four pages long, with one page left half blank so that people could add to it and pass it on. Unfortunately, this style of the newspaper was shut down after one issue after it exposed the French king’s love affair.

The newspaper has evolved greatly since its first publication. It was one of America’s greatest pastimes when working men returned home for the night, waiting for dinner, or an early read in the morning at the coffee shop while waiting in line.

Before the radio, the newspaper was “cool,” and it connected the readers with what was happening in the world. Nowadays, one would hear about any major event long before it would make it to the print industries. Television, radio, podcasts, broadcasts, and social media tell most of what there is to know in the world, all being quick ways to obtain news, leaving the print paper at the bottom of the list of ways to learn about what is going on around them.

The future of newspapers

While reading the paper is not necessarily an exciting throwback, it is an important one with a lot of educational value. Many of these current trends will eventually die out once again as the new fashion era takes over. This leaves plenty of room for change as society finalizes that decision on what to do about a form of news that we have known for dozens of generations. Whether the paper is kept or not, the possibilities are endless when it comes to what will be the newest and most improved ways to absorb information.

Just because the newspaper does not match up to scrunchies or leg warmers, doesn’t mean if it recovers from this downward slump that it won’t be a major victory for journalists and news reporters around the world, not to mention the nostalgic and sentimental value it holds dear to our older generations.

“Vinyl records and bell-bottomed jeans offer fun elements of nostalgia and comfort. Newspapers that were published 20 to 100 years ago offer similar appeal.  Newspapers currently owned and operated by Gatehouse don’t provide any compelling reason for people to subscribe to them or advertise in them,” said Dan Naccarato, HutchCC Business Instructor and longtime newspaper fan.

As he appealed to the population that does enjoy and collect older newspapers, he also managed to offer a comparison between these spunky and retro comebacks and the newspaper in their aspect of relevance to our society.

Whether society keeps the newspaper as is and works to improve it, it has the potential to be an important factor in daily life. If not, the print industry will slowly die off. From there, technology will further advance, which can be lead any which way as we encourage online consumption of news and information. The decision of the matter falls in the hands of younger Americans.

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