Do people read newspapers on New Year’s Day?

January 1, 2013 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon 

I always wonder about this question in Guyana particularly? With the rise of the internet, it has become even more pressing. Based on observation and certainly not actual experience, (only attended one Old Year’s Night party in my life and that was the WPA’s in 1978) I find that Old Year’s Night escapism to be an all consuming affair. When I was studying in Canada, I found the excessive enthusiasm of the Old Year’s Night fete to be the same as it was in Guyana.
It must be the same for most countries. People look forward to the night of December 31. You could be wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, single, student, lonely drifter or anything else, the night of December 31 beckons you to an abandonment. You sleep late and wake late. Do newspapers matter by then? Do you want to read the papers at all? Don’t you make the decision that on New Year’s Day you are going to do absolutely nothing but maybe sleep again or go out clubbing or sporting again or continue your abandonment?
Before the internet, the radio and newspapers were all there were by way of knowing what went on during the daytime of December 31 so newspapers still mattered in those days. You get up late and you just glanced at the headlines or tune into the radio.
When television came on the scene, newspaper took some competition on the first day in January because you could lie in bed and look at the idiot box before you fell asleep or go out again.
In any case unless you were a subscriber you would not have been able to get a copy because by afternoon when you would have risen from bed, the kiosk may be empty. It never occurred to me to ask the people at the Catholic Standard, the Stabroek News and the Kaieteur News if they print fewer copies of the New Year’s edition. Maybe I should ask.
I doubt if there is any educated person out there that would argue that the rise of the internet is not a threat to the daily newspaper, weekly or monthly magazine. The New York Times said that it had to lay off staff because of shrinking sales due to online news sites. And Newsweek has closed down operating only an online edition.
One of the world’s really great, fantastic newspapers was closed because of the internet. Don’t let the name fool you but at one time The Christian Science Monitor was the leading newspaper in the US. It was the first newspaper I read when I was in Canada. Today it operates as an online media.
Do you know that the political community in Washington D.C. reads online newspapers with the same curiosity as it does the Washington Post and the New York Times? The list includes Politico, the Daily Beast and the Huffington Post. I am not sure how much longer TIME magazine has. TIME is a weekly publication and by the time it comes out you know everything you need to know about an event in any part of the world because of the internet. Not necessarily so.
TIME can use angles and get photographs that other media houses missed. But that does not seem to be the case. Whatever TIME can get CNN, BBC, Guardian, New York Times and other media giants, including the Murdoch Empire, can.
So what happens today in Guyana? Will the newspapers on this day in this country be read widely as if it was a normal working day as just another routine holiday? My opinion is that it will not. I haven’t done the research. I don’t know if the circulation is the same. But even if it is what about the return copies?
I seriously doubt that on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day in this country and others around the world, the same numbers that put their eyes on a newspaper during a normal working day will be the same. I would need to see the statistics to believe it.
Of course more persons per capita will read the newspapers on this day compared with more developed societies simply because the use of the internet is not as widespread here as say Trinidad, Singapore, Malaysia, Barbados etc much less Europe and North America.
Guyana, comparatively speaking, is a very poor country. I don’t have the statistics but social networking exists among a slim percentage of the population in Guyana. So for a substantial amount of Guyanese, a newspaper is the only avenue for knowing about the news.

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