Last week at a journalist outing, a colleague relayed how it wasn't too long ago that journalism students and interns were hesitant to do online-only work.
As far as they were concerned, it wasn't "really" published if it didn't appear in the paper.
That's when I got a twinge in my stomach.
As a web editor, I pride myself on working online. Live-blogging, tweeting, Googling, I can do it all and bring it together in a nice package. I love working in the digital world and think I'd find print a very different place to navigate now — even though I've just been working online for four months.
But when a story I've written gets published in the paper, I get really excited.
I don't want to say it's because my stories are "really" published when they're in the paper, because I know they're "really" published once they appear on thestar.com. But having them in the paper means I can bring them to show my nana, who doesn't have the Internet.
It's just a small minority of the stories I've written so far that have appeared in print, which is likely a good thing. After all, my hope chest is only so big, and it already contains dozens of newspapers from over the years that I've had some small part in creating — whether it be an article I wrote, a picture I took, a headline I crafted or a page I designed.
After I came home with my second article published in the newspaper, my boyfriend looked at me and then to the two copies of the entire Toronto Star from that day I held in my hand.
"Are you going to do that everytime this happens?" he asked.
"What if I just keep the section?" I bargained.
He agreed and hasn't brought it up since. (Though, truth be told, I haven't shown him what I've brought home since.)
When I saw my latest story published in the paper this week, before doing a little happy dance inside, I wondered if getting excited really did make the worst web editor in the world.
But here's the thing: I don't think it does.
If anything, I think my reaction to getting published in the paper illustrates why newspapers won't vanish completely, no matter what the Internet throws their way.
Not only because of people like me that like to read them, but because newspapers offer something the Internet can't. Keeping hold of a moment in time.
For example, I have the a copy of the Ottawa Citizen from the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 — before the World Trade Center was hit. I bought the paper that day because I happened to have an article in it. Now, I have a piece of time of what the world was like pre-9/11. It's really neat to leaf through and see what was "news" before the tragedy. (Remember Chandra Levy? The shark attacks?)
Then the world changed. When the afternoon extra edition of the Citizen came out, I grabbed one of those. I still have that copy, too. I also have the Star from the one-year anniversary of the attacks.
I just can't see keeping a website favourited or in my bookmarks to remember an event that happened in the world that I lived through. It's not the same as keeping a copy of a newspaper, seeing it age and remembering how you felt the first time you heard about what happened, or read the words in the paper.
The web may be able to allow me to do almost whatever I want it to, but it can't do that. And I don't think it ever will.
Thinking that doesn't make me a bad web editor, it makes me a hopeful journalist.