“Print media is dead” is a popular phrase that can be heard in the public discourse about communication. Without a doubt, the availability of the electronic written word continues to escalate. We have digital news sources, twitter, webzines and e-books. We carry around a variety of handheld devices, including phones, tablets and e-readers. In the industrialized world there are almost as many personal computers as there are people. Yet despite all this, there are types of print media that continue to thrive. While people may be buying less newspapers than they once did, there is no shortage of magazines, journals and books. This shows that although the face of writing is changing, people still yearn for the stories writers tell.
Essentially, writers are in the storytelling business. These raconteurs reach the public to challenge ideas and societal norms, to record history, to enlighten, entertain, and educate. Such has always been the case. But will this change in the fast paced world of texting and status updates? I say no. If anything, this may make it easier for the public to access and relate to writing in ways that weren’t possible at any other time. Take e-readers for instance. Before the technology surge, if I desperately needed to read a book I would have to drive out to the nearest Barnes & Noble and purchase it, then drive back home to read it, assuming I wasn’t planning on sitting in the bookstore reading for the rest of the day. However, with the new convenience of technology I could locate it in the virtual store, read the synopsis, browse reviews, and have it delivered to me within three minutes of my deciding to buy it. This is why the face of writing seems to be changing so drastically. Everything needs to be faster and easier to keep up with the demands of the public.
Writers are able to reach audiences more quickly now and readers are able to rapidly respond. On the book blog I write I’m able to reach people from places like Australia, the United Kingdom, and South Korea every day, which is something I as an average Central Pennsylvanian girl never expected to do. Readers are able to respond instantaneously, making a literary conversation across oceans an everyday concept. Writers can share their thoughts and opinions with each other, and get ideas and suggestions instantly from different continents; hereto an idea that only existed in the pages of science fiction books. This is another example of how the way writers communicate has drastically changed.
But when you get down to it, the writing is still the same. Despite the different forms they take, stories are constant in every period of our history. Shakespeare, the most famous writer ever, released his stories in the form of plays that people had to go see. Charles Dickens’s serialized writing meant his readers had to wait a week or even a month for a new installment of the story. A modern writer like Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, has a completely different style of writing, with a bold raw narrative voice and a changing point of view delivered in novel form. Each author in their time developed unprecedented ideas, and all are valuable to us. We have no reason to suppose that a different mode of telling a story would change the role of writers. We will always have the need for a story “to take us lands away”, as Emily Dickinson would say. We will always have the need for someone to sympathize with our problems and help us sort out our tangled emotions. We will always need to burrow down in one of our favorite books and find a haven in Pemberley, Green Gables or even Hogwarts. This is why the role of writers will never really change.
Some might argue that in the new world of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, writers are becoming increasingly obsolete. Now that everyone has the opportunity to write whatever comes to their mind whenever they want to, the importance of writers may be thought to be dwindling. I disagree with that statement. People will always need the written word, but the form it takes may change. We will always need someone to capture our thoughts and emotions and put them into words, and in this way, the role of many writers may be unchanged. The main thing that will change is how these stories will be delivered to us.