In England, during the World War, a lot of people had no access to something that is so necessary today, toilet paper.
Thus people improvised. As newspapers were still being published, they were cut into small pieces, and used for clean up.
That was not the only thing newspapers were used for. They were used by my grocer to package lettuce and other products. Even the butcher used newspapers as part of the packaging. Before more modern, plastic based padding, newspapers were also used as padding in packaging sent all over the place. With a great degree of efficiency.
Newspapers were also used to package garbage sent down the chute. To this day, we use to pad the cat litter box.
So, besides their usefulness as conveyors of information, newspapers served a host of other useful needs.
I hope no other World War comes our way, it will be very difficult to clean up after taking a dump using a computer screen.