How Physical Media Has Survived in the Digital Age

Whenever I think back to early Sunday morning breakfasts with my family, I always see my dad going through numerous flyers, magazines, and newspapers since that was essentially the only way to get the news. If you wanted to read the latest opinion on the Red Sox or a new proposal that Former Governor Charlie Baker had come up with, you waited for the latest copy of the paper to then get the opportunity. I understand that I sound like somebody in their 40s or 50s when I’m only 17 years old. However, I think that physical media has become a forgotten art that people have started to shy away from. 

Becoming a member of The Blue and Gold allowed me to appreciate the process of conducting interviews, taking photos, writing articles, then bringing all of that to life in a newspaper. Granted, companies such as The Boston Globe or The New York Times are publishing papers every single day compared to us. We publish once a month, but we still get the opportunity to learn how to do all of these things while also being full-time students with other classes. I remember the first time that I had seen one of my articles published on print. It was a football game recap when Malden took on Medford during my freshman year, which was the 2020-2021 school year, played in the spring. There was something so magical to me about seeing an article that I had worked so hard on and put a lot of thought and effort to be in my hands as something I could show off to everyone. 

Now, I understand that people can still see that same article online from the website, but it’s just not the same. Being able to have the physical article means you get to own that forever. If the internet isn’t working or the website is down, nobody can read that article.

Flipping sides to another form of media that we’ve seen change in the digital age has been music. Another thing I see a lot with my dad is the massive amount of CDs he owns since he’s been a DJ since the 90s. It’s incredible to sit down, start to go through them and he just instantly knows where a song is on one or multiple CDs and exactly how many tracks he needs to skip to get to it. I can’t say that I have the same thing with the mountains of CDs because, like everyone else, I have a Spotify playlist with an absurd amount of music in it. If I didn’t have a platform like Spotify, I wouldn’t have been able to discover all of these songs and appreciate the discography of my favorite artists. Even as I’m writing this I’m listening to a new album on Spotify. The fact I can jump from album to album is like magic and essentially impossible to do with cassettes, vinyl, or CDs. 

The only difference is, like with the newspaper articles, I don’t own any of my music because it’s all on a streaming service. If Spotify gets shut down, I have no music, which still makes those physical forms of media valuable. Another point to bring up is how people prefer the sound of an album on something like a vinyl, and sometimes, the artist includes additional content on those physical releases, which encourages their fans to pick up the album.

Another facet of media that has changed from just 20 to 30 years ago has been sports games. Simply put, if you wanted to see a game, you either had to sit down and watch the entire game or get the tickets and head over to the venue. If you wanted to be there to see the game-defining moments, you made sure to watch the whole game and never peel your eyes off the action in front of you. I’m not saying that all of a sudden people can’t watch sports games anymore, but the way that the digital age has changed how we consume sports has revolutionized the entire industry. Today, you could be scrolling through YouTube and find a multi-part documentary about the entire history of the Atlanta Falcons with episodes that are hours long and then the next video is a highlight reel from the Celtics game that you missed last night because you had too much homework. That’s the way I became such a sports nerd. I was able to use social media to learn and consume massive amounts of information and history so now I could tell you who the all-time best offensive lineman for the New England Patriots is. By the way, it’s John Hannah. 

From a more creative aspect, the digital age has helped create landmark careers for writers such as Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless, and Colin Cowherd. They’ve been given platforms on TV with their debate shows that put their opinions out for everyone, but then spread like wildfire across the internet. I still think that sitting down to read an informed sports article by these columnists provides a great perspective since you can appreciate their writing styles and the research behind them.

In my opinion, the best way to consume sports is to watch the games. Doing so, you get to see the smaller details and specific plays that an article or video may have missed. By watching it on your own, you get to make your interpretations instead of having to hear it from someone else first.

In a society that is largely dominated by technology and social media, it’s nice to detach yourself from everything and get the chance to appreciate life. Even though I know not everyone will get the chance to read this article or look through our newspapers, if you do, take the time to read every article and look at every photo. Our reporters put in a lot of hard work and to be able to show it off to everyone is special.

Related Posts