WIY, I agree with you that secular newspapers or magazines are sources of tumah. THEY ARE TUMAH. Who would want to bring tumah into their house?
The above quote is from a thread over in the Yeshiva World Coffeeroom. And the above quote irked me. Not because the poster thinks that newspapers or magazines are unclean. Nor is it because they want to keep their houses "pure." Nor is it because the poster is using "tumah" in an incorrect manner to refer to something that should be avoided hashkafically rather than the correct, halachic definition of tumah. The reason why this post irks me is because the poster doesn't know how to use the words tumah or tamei.
To be fair, it's not the poster's fault. I know lots of people who do the same thing and, no doubt s/he simply picked it up from his/her environment. And, again, to be fair, there are lots of worse things that one can do than mix up the terms tumah and tamei. But still, every time I hear it it grates on my nerves.
It's really fairly simple. Tumah is the "contamination" (yes, it's a horrible translation, but it's the best one I can think of off the top of my head) that is caused by various sources such as a dead body, certain bodily emissions, some dead animals, etc. The rules regarding which items transmit tumah and which items can become tamei are complicated and beyond the scope of this post. The point, however, is this: tumah is a noun. Tamei is an adjective. An item or a person can become tamei. Things that are tamei can transmit tumah. They cannot, however, become tumah. Tumah cannot be touched or felt -- it's strictly a spiritual, halachic construct. Saying that something is "tumah" is akin to saying that a light bulb is light (in the photonic, not massive, sense) or that a loudspeaker is noise.
Yeah, I know it's a nit-picky issue, but it's a long-standing pet peeve of mine.