We arrived home last night from a weekend away and I immediately got started doing the odds and ends that always await us after a trip, however brief. There were the suitcases to empty, of course, and the phone messages to listen to, and the mail to sort.
And the four newspapers piled at the bottom of our driveway.
But we were gone for only two days — not four. Rolling up the driveway, my tires crunching over the plastic-wrapped bundles, I realized I had never gotten around to picking up — much less reading — the papers from the two days before our trip, either.
I had simply been too busy — and more to the point, I had gotten my “news fix” online during that time. I hadn’t needed the newspaper to stay on top of the world, my state or even my little town. Everything I needed had come from the Internet.
Now, this trend is not news. Newspapers have been in decline for quite a few years for this very reason. Almost everyone consumes their news online these days, even if they supplement it with a newspaper or two. So why does it distress me to realize I no longer need my newspaper?
Because newspapers used to be my home. I not only wrote for the one gracing the bottom of my driveway, but a smaller daily paper before that. As a writer, I cut my teeth on newspapers, and the pace and camaraderie of the newsroom is something I will never forget. I had vowed that nothing could duplicate the feel of newsprint between my fingers or the relaxation of reading the paper with a cozy cup of tea beside me.
I saw the freight train of change, and I thought I would push it aside. But I hopped aboard just like everyone else. And you know what? I like it just as much. My laptop is my personal mini-heater as well as my information portal, and there is a certain coziness to scrolling through my favorite websites with a cup of tea beside me.
And the speed? Could never be duplicated by a newspaper. By the time the paper is printed, in fact, the news inside it is old. Online, in many cases, those same stories have been updated several times by the next morning. There’s really no comparison — or contest — between the two anymore. Maybe newspapers will adapt or specialize in a way that keeps them afloat, but I don’t think they’ll ever be the force in American society they once were.
Still, there’s a pang of sadness, of nostalgia, in understanding that. There’s resignation, but also eager acceptance. Either way, I guess the old saying really is true: You can never go home again.
- New Study Shows Newspapers Don’t Have to Sue to get Pirated Content Removed (readwriteweb.com)
- ‘US News’ Exits the Print Business (dailyfinance.com)