The death of the reporter’s notebook?

Originally uploaded by Brenderous.

Long before social media and smart phones, the humble notebook was the reporter’s best friend. And for most of us it still is.

But not just any old notebook for the majority of print journalists it has to be spiral bound at the top of the pages making it easier to flick over the page. Anything else just won’t cut it when writing at speed.

In fact, the “reporter’s notebook” or “shorthand notebook” almost sets journalists that work with words apart from their counterparts who work in the media of television and radio.

Shorthand or not, most print journalists will prefer this kind of notebook. Yet this is not the case throughout journalism. Go into a television studio and you might see a different kind of notebook – hard backed notebooks with a traditional spine or spiral bound at the side.

But there are signs that this more sophisticated type of notebook is starting to take over – in the shops at least. Until recently, my local supermarket stocked reporter’s notebooks. You could find them in most post offices and even the smallest newsagent.

Now, my local supermarket stocks all sorts of other notebooks; glittery ones for teenagers, Justin Bieber ones for kids and numerous hard-backed ones for television reporters. You can also get accounts ones too for book keeping.

But despite this menagerie of notebooks, there was not a bog standard reporter’s notebook to be seen. It was the same story at the local post office – lots of fancy hard backed notebooks but nothing that would work for my hasty scrawl.

Perhaps fewer of us have a need for this kind of notebook now. Journalism is becoming more multi-skilled and I expect the secretarial trade is going the same way. I still have a need for reporter’s notebooks though.

Back in school notebooks had to look good, but still became a home for graffiti, doodles and stickers. Yet the pages themselves were invariably empty.

Now every page in my notebook is filled and sometimes the reverse side too. An empty notebook makes me feel sad. A full one makes me feel satisfied. Does that make me strange?

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