I read the news today oh boy…
I recently read an article about the impending death of the daily newspaper in America, a fact I was already well aware of. It’s no secret that the once mighty newspaper industry has been shaken to the core by advancement in technology, digital access to the news and digital advertising. In the first decade of the new Millenium over 4o% of the daily newspaper industry was forced to stop their presses and close their doors forever. Since then others have fallen the big and the small alike. Others have gone to or a weekly or digital subscription format. They’ve been forced to lay off employees and run by skeleton crews. Currently there are only 1400 daily’s left in the U.S. Sadly the printed newspaper is going the way of the dinosaur victim of Wi-Fi and lightning fast internet.
We currently subscribe to two daily papers, the Los Angeles Times for me and a local rag, the Daily Bulletin for my wife so she can keep up with local and hometown news and events. I read the Times pretty much everyday. Well, actually I don’t read the newspaper anymore at least not the one that’s on newsprint. That one ends up in the recycle bin everyday except for Sunday. On Sundays I still enjoy going through the printed advertisements. Everything else I now prefer to read online which my current subscription gives me access to. As soon as my subscription expires I’m going to Sunday only delivery which will still give me digital access.
Making the transition from the paper page to digital wasn’t easy, I had to do it slowly. It must have taken me nearly a year or so to make the change but since June of last year I’ve crossed over to the digital side and read my newspaper on my tablet or phone. Yeah breaking old habits is hard, especially when you’ve done them everyday for 40 plus years! When we do something for that long it becomes more than just a routine, it becomes a way of life.
Do I miss reading the physical newspaper, actually holding it in my hands as I pour over the columns? Not a bit. And I don’t miss those annoying half page advertisements that they place over the front page. Those were really beginning to irritate me. I don’t care how much money advertisers pay to do that. Ads should never be placed ahead of the front page! Scatter them throughout the paper or put them in a supplemental section where they belong. Definitely don’t miss that. What I do miss however is the ritual involved in reading the newspaper and believe me there is a ritual. Preparing to read the paper is a ceremony made up of a number of actions we go through before reading.
The ritual begins long before we begin to read the newspaper, it starts with our quest for the paper. We venture out into the great outdoors to retrieve the object of our desires. With paper in hand we come back in, pour ourselves a fresh cup of coffee and seat ourselves at the breakfast table or in our favorite chair or recliner. We may even take the paper and sit outside or maybe the toilet. Once settled our ritual continues as we pull away the string, rubber band, or thin plastic wrap that holds the paper together and makes it deliverable. I have a lot of experience in this area having been a delivery boy for the Azusa Herald, Daily Tribune and later as an adult the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper has to hold together so it can be thrown from a bike or a moving car. It’s actually kind of a fun experience.
Once the paper is freed we flip it open and begin our news journey. I used to love the fresh smell of newsprint in the morning, the feel of the pages, and the mild bit of exercise I got as I extended my arms and held the paper up to turn and fold back the pages. It was a very comforting experience. Not quite the same on my tablet, not at all. But there’s no turning back now, It still feels a little strange but I’ve gone digital and eventually the process will grow on me. I’ve even been reading novels digitally. I can do it anywhere with no heavy book to lug around. I’ve got every book I want to read at my fingertips, on my tablet and my phone. Damn you Kindle Store!
We all know that thing’s change and many of us don’t like change, but you can’t hold back progress, don’t make the mistake of trying to hang on to what was, and accept what is. There are a lot more changes coming our way as what we once thought of as science fiction becomes reality. The times they are a changing.