Washing the Newsprint off.
I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it. I haven’t subscribed to a newspaper in my adult life, except for a brief trial with the Boulder Daily Camera.
Newspapers were a part of my everyday life from a young age, thanks to my mother’s thirst for reading and politics. I read first for the comics, then for the sports, eventually to national politics and world events by the time I was an early teenager – in both the major papers such as the Chicago Tribune and small dinky local papers like the Lake Country Reporter*.
Somewhere along the way between high school and real adult life, I stopped reading newspapers other than when I was home visiting my parents. A busy schedule, a mindful eye towards conserving natural resources, and something called “the internet” made it all possible. Why read a paper that kills trees in its mass production when I could get all my news online quickly?
And so, I understand why newspapers all over the country, large and small, are dying. Denver’s Rocky Mountain News will cease production tomorrow while several others have either folded or filed for bankruptcy protection. I can go to all of my favorite papers online, even though I don’t live in the Chicago area or Wisconsin anymore. There’s CNN.com and Yahoo news, too. I’m also a huge fan of alternative weeklies, like the Boulder Weekly and Westword.
I don’t want the great papers to vanish – the Trib, or the New York Times, or the Washington Post - but it’s apparent the smaller ones are facing almost certain extinction. It’s too late to start online subscriptions, as the public has gotten too used to getting the news for free. They either need to step up online advertising or fade away. I’m not sure whether to be sad or to accept it as a sign of the times.
*If you happen to know the Distorter and you’re not my parents, please leave a comment. :)
As an “older” reader, I love having a newspaper in my hands. Reading long articles on the computer screen makes me cross-eyed. I hope that true journalists can stand strong on the internet and not turn yellow. I worry about the blogosphere and younger readers not knowing the difference between true journalism and unsubstantiated stories that go viral too often. It scares me.