Old Media: The Comeback Kid

My childhood can be summed up in two sounds: the theme songs of our Saturday morning cartoons, and the screech of our dial-up internet.

Although morning cartoons and annoying theme songs are still around, dial-up internet is — thankfully — a thing of the past. It’s amazing to think that children born in the last few years will probably never know what it was like to surf the internet back then, tying up your family’s phone line while you tried to keep your Neopets alive (RIP).

The internet has evolved into a faster, more efficient model. Unfortunately, in the name of progress, there are other types of media that have — especially over the last few years — been replaced by the ‘new media’ of the internet.

If internet is new media, then old media is what comes before it: newspapers, radio broadcasting, and print are just a few of the examples that come to mind. Although all of these examples are still in play today, they have evolved drastically in the past 20 years.

Newspapers, for instance, are slowly becoming obsolete. Why read a newspaper when you can check the news on your phone? Even reading articles is becoming a thing of the past — many people prefer to skim headlines instead of spending time on a multi-paragraph story.

There are some instances of old media, such as television and radio, that have managed to evolve without being eclipsed by new technology. Both, of course, have drastically changed. Televisions are now integrated with the internet and some radio stations have taken the form of podcasts.

But I’m not interested in old media becoming new. I’m interested in the types of old media that have withstood the passage of time, most of them in their original forms.

We can’t talk about old media rising from the dead without talking about the record player.

Record players were already on the decline when I was growing up. My parents had records, but never played them. To me, they were nothing but relics — something they would one day get rid of when the time was right.

Who would’ve thought that record players would surge back to the forefront? There’s a whole section of Barnes and Noble dedicated to them, and you can barely walk into a store without seeing a vinyl copy of the newest album.

Even though record players are my favorite kind of old media resurgence, you can also add books and traditional advertising to this list. Old-school, non-digital billboards are still everywhere, which means that, even after all this time, they still work. Although people will argue that books are being replaced by e-books, I’ve seen a lot of local bookstores make comebacks in the last few years. In a lot of ways, nostalgia for the past has allowed a lot of old media to rise back up.

But how long will this continue? This week it was announced that the once-reliable yellow pages would be pulled from printing in 2019. Could the same happen to record players? To books? Or will some aspects of old media continue to withstand the test of time?

I personally think that some things — like books — will never die. But even if they do, maybe one day I’ll be around to see them make their way back into society.

I mean, everybody loves a good comeback story, right?