Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Get Yer News Right Here!!!

By Deborah Sharp

I was reading the newspaper this morning ...

I'll pause here while you grab a bottle of milk from the ice-box and crank up the Victrola. Okay? All cozy in our time warp?

Right. The newspaper. You remember, that quaint artifact from the last century? I still read it most mornings, though it is vexing to turn the pages with my dinosaur claws. When I read in a public spot like Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts, I'm usually the only customer in the place perusing the paper old-school. That pains me, as a former newspaper reporter.

Full disclosure: This morning, with temperatures hovering in the un-Florida-like 30s, I was tempted to get on my fancy computer and get my news virtually. The cold snap is so unusual that officials had to put out press releases telling clueless Floridians what to wear: Dress in layers, and don a hat that covers the ears. I manned up, trading flip-flops for wool socks and closed-toe shoes, and hastened down the driveway. There were the three papers we subscribe to, faithfully delivered as always. (Often faithfully delivered into a puddle, but that's another post).

Maybe newspaper ink doesn't course through my veins anymore, but newsprint still stains my hands.

Everyone but me knows that printed newspapers have already lost the battle against newer technology. I'm like one of those old Japanese soldiers from World War II, marooned on a deserted island; still believing I'm fighting a war that's already been decided. I'm rooting for the newspapers.

My husband, Kerry Sanders, has to be up on the national news as a reporter for NBC. So we get the New York Times in addition to our two local papers, the Sun-Sentinel and Miami Herald. Yes, they're all skinnier than they used to be, and still shrinking. And, increasingly, the Herald and Sentinel run the same stories, thanks to a resource-sharing partnership that would have been unthinkable in the competitive environment that existed when I cut my news-gathering teeth.

Still, there's something about paging through actual pages, seeing headlines and photos as they're meant to be seen -- not postage-stamp sized on my I-phone or zoomed in and running off the screen of my laptop. Best of all, the paper still costs less than a cup of coffee. When I'm done reading it, I can use it to mulch my garden, line my trash can, or pack fragile contents into boxes.

Try that with your I-pads and Kindles, Internet hipsters!

So, all hail the venerable newspaper. I'm going to get back to mine later today, right after I light the wood stove and finish churning some butter.

How about you? Do you still read an honest-to-God newspaper? Do you get your news from online sources? From TV? Are you on strike against the news in general, until the world makes some better news?


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I must confess, I cannot remember the last time I read a real newspaper. I get most of my news from the internet, esp. (which I check several times a day and have on my iPhone) and my local news from TV in the evening.

Deb, you're not a dinosaur, you're a preservationist. BTW, I looked that word up via my dictionary app.

Lisa Bork said...

We got the newspaper for the Black Friday ads the day after Thanksgiving. Then we squirreled it away for future use: comes in handy for changing oil and carving pumpkins and stuff like that.

I did a signing at the library this weekend and the author next to me sat with the newspaper spread out in front of her the whole time--and only one copy of her book. Hard to tell what she was selling :)

Vicki Doudera said...

I love the look and feel of real newspapers, too. We buy the NYTimes on Sunday and it is such a treat, not to mention a good source of story ideas. In the winter, buying at least one paper a week is a necessity -- we use it to start fires in our two woodstoves. Bet one of those would feel toasty today in FL!

Deborah Sharp said...

Sue Ann: I like that, ''preservationist'' .. sounds better than dinosaur!
Lisa: Maybe that author was selling the newspaper ;-0 ?
Vicki: You actually have woodstoves? I thought that was something from Little House on the Prairie!

Julie Compton said...

I used to be like you. Even when it seemed no one else still read the paper, I continued to subscribe because I wanted to support the newspaper's continued existence. And reading the old-fashioned newspaper held a lot of good memories for me -- while I was growing up, it was a ritual for my dad and I to sip coffee and read the morning news together.
But then the paper stopped running book reviews or ANYTHING about local authors, relying instead on syndicated reviews from the Chicago Tribune, which were almost without exception reviews of books by extremely well-known authors. And then one day I counted the number of pages devoted to ads, compared to the number of pages devoted to real news (and by this, I don't count the "Ticked Off" feature). It wasn't even close. I finally caved and cancelled my subscription. It hurt to do it, but I couldn't justify supporting it anymore, especially when it didn't support area writers.
Thanks for a great post.

Alan Williamson said...

I still make a ritual out of the Sunday paper, my wife and I brewing gourmet coffee and setting aside quality time to read and reflect. The rest of the week, I must admit, I'm happy to get my updated doses of news and entertainment online.

Carol Grace said...

Love the newspaper, the kind that comes in your driveway every morning. The kind with the Styles Section on Sunday with the marriages etc. I'm speaking of the NYT of course. As Vicki said, it's chock full of plot and character ideas. And yesterday's paper does make ideal kindling for the wood stove.

Lois Winston said...

Deb, I love my iPhone and my computer, and I watch both the local and national news on TV, but I can't start my morning without the newspaper spread out in front of me at the kitchen table. We get both the NYT and the Star Ledger, and I shudder to think of life without newspapers. I hope the day never comes, but I fear it will be here sooner rather than later.

Vicky said...

Ironic that I read this on my IPod while waiting in line at Starbucks. At one point I wanted to cancel my subscription to our newspapers. Why spend all the money while I could read everything on line. But you don't relax with the online newspapers. You scan in a hurry rather than linger over stories, comics, advice columns and nuptials. I'm glad I changed my mind. I even blogged about this subject a while back. Thanks as always, Deborah, for your wit and writing.

G.M. Malliet said...

We get the Washington Post. It kick-starts my day, even though it is a ghost of its former self. The Book World expired a long time ago, along with much of my interest in the Sunday paper.

"Spot the typos" is a fun new game we play daily, the result of a devil-may-care spirit that seems to have invaded the traditional newsroom.

But I can't give up the habits of a lifetime. DH can't give up his crossword, even though he could print it out or do it online.

~ Gin, holding high the dinosaur flag.

Darrell James said...

Deb- I'm still drawn to newspapers whenever I see them in the lobby of a hotel,as an example. But I quit subscribing to them. They started to become mostly a pile of fire logs on my front stoop. I simply quit making time for them (sad).

Traditions are dropping to technology every day. I guess life moves on with us or without us.

Deborah Sharp said...

Thanks for all the thoughtful comments, folks. I thought I was being funny, but now I'm feeling sad. Poor newspapers.
Julie: I learned to read by sitting on my dad's knee, going over the newspaper comics together.
Alan: at least you're reading the real thing one day a week (Maybe papers should just publish old-school on weekends?)
Carol: You, too, with the woodstove? Are y'all putting this south Fla. girl on, or do they really exist?
Lois: ''I hope the day never comes'', AMEN.
Vicky: you've hit the difference on the head: You relax with the paper, you scan online.
GM: Knew I could count on you to carry the dinosaur banner. Hear us ROAR!
Darrell: Absolutely, life does move on.

Cricket McRae said...

Don't knock the butter churning, darlin'! And I was just pining last night for my old woodstove. But I've always been a lousy newspaper reader. For some reason I feel strangely obligated to read the whole thing rather than skimming the headlines. Takes forever, so I gave it up. But I am a throwback in that I watch the nightly news on television. Recorded so I can skip the commercials.
Hearth Cricket

Kathleen Ernst said...

My favorite local newspaper went to a primarily online format several years ago. I still lament its passing (even though as a greenie, I applaud the absence of dead trees). I find it difficult to read news on the paper's website--the ads I could avoid on paper seem much more distracting on screen, and it's more difficult to find the sections I want.

circuitmouse said...

I download articles aplenty, but I must, must, must get my hard copy of the daily for all the bits 7 pieces that never go on their website ... the SF Chronicle, for one, or the Herald & Sun-Sentinel (and even the Palm Beach Post when I can find it) when I'm in Florida.

Keith Raffel said...

Deb, If you are a dinosaur when it comes to newspaper reading, I must be a trilobite. I get 3 papers daily, the San Jose Mercury, the Wall St Journal, and the NY Times. I read them on an exercycle. If you have a chance tell the Merc that I get the Times too, so re-running NY Times pieces means I'm buying the same thing twice. The Mercury no longer does very many local book reviews. They reprint syndicated ones. In fact most of their non-local news comes from syndication. Friends who once worked there tell me the newsroom has been cut by 60% or more. But it's my local daily and I can't resist the stories by Mike Cassidy, Lisa Krieger, and Andrew Baggarly. Rupert Murdoch's quixotic quest to compete with the Times has led to vast improvements in the WSJ such as the new Saturday Review section which has to be one of the two best book review sections in the country. An added bonus: the Journal editorial page usually gets me mad enough to serve as a substitute for a wake-up cup of coffee. And the Times is still the Times, probably less affected by the Great Recession than any other metropolitan daily. And it does still use that ink that rubs off on your fingertips.

Alan Orloff said...

I read The Washington Post every single day. I can't imagine starting my day without first checking the headlines (and the Sports section). When we go away on vacation, I don't stop the paper; instead I have the neighbors collect it so I can read all the back issues. (Full disclosure: I worked for the Post briefly, on the business side, about twenty years ago). If it's not in the newspaper folks, it ain't news.

Now, where is my slide rule? I have some routes to plot on my road atlas.

Deborah Sharp said...

Ha! Alan O: Love that slide rule bit. You're a funny, funny guy. You should write something featuring a comedian ;-)
Keith: I agree completely about the paltry state of book reviews in most local papers. Thank God for the WSJ reviews.
CircuitMouse: I'm with you on the ''bits and pieces'' that never make the online version, found only in print.
Kathleen: I could never even find my OWN stories on the dotcom USA Today, so I agree that stuff is harder to find.
Cricket: I'd never knock the churn, honey! And when you watch the news on TV, I hope you're watching a certain someone on NBC! (My wonderful hubby, Kerry Sanders)

Barbara said...

Deb, I'm with you. I still get the Sun=Sentinel (OK, a few days a week now) and I enjoy the Sunday NYT all week--that is, when I'm not reaching for my smelling salts and loosening my corset after watching the strident TV news. And I still order real books; i like handling them, smelling the paper, admiring the covers. Yep, I'm a dinosaur. The Book page of the local paper is so thin that I'm now substituting it for wax paper. (It's cheaper and still lets me see what I've wrapped in it.) Also, if there's a glitch with my newspaper delivery, I don't have to call my high-priced tech to straighten it out!

Deborah Sharp said...

Barbara: A glitch with newspaper delivery? Never! (Seriously, I like to rag, but those delivery folks are unsung heroes).

Cricket McRae said...

Once upon a time I was the circulation manager for a newspaper in Washington State. The coordination of getting papers to everyone's doorstep can be quite a dance!

And I saw Kerry just the other night, shivering in a field of strawberries. Stay warm!

Barbara said...

I agree, Deb. In truth, there hasn't been a glitch with my newspaper deliveries in ages. They ARE unsung heroes, faithfully performing their tasks every morning at the crack of dawn. I always give them a little something at this time of year, even though I have no idea what my heroine looks like! (BTW, I don't like getting my news online. It feels like I'm still working. Also, by the time I click on the headline I want, the thing has moved on, and I'm stuck reading about Angelina's latest adoption.