Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Online, schmonline ... I'll still take my daily newspaper

Yeah, I know we're in the age of instant news ... all anybody could ever want (and far too much more) ... online ... for free.

And you know what? I still don't know how anybody who really cares about his/her community -- and by that I mean city, county, state, country and world -- can go without reading that relic from a bygone era: the daily newspaper. I know: I'm so 1990s!

I tried giving it up, believe me.

I went without a newspaper for a spell and tried catching up on all the news online. Hated it.

There was no rhythm to the search. I'd see a headline, click on it and read a little. Then I'd see another headline and click some more. An hour later, my eyes were tired, my neck was sore and I felt as if I had read hardly anything noteworthy. As for the ads ... well, I never even considered clicking on one.

So I started having my local daily newspaper, the Charlotte Observer, delivered Friday through Sunday. Filling in the gaps with a couple of weeklies as well as online news, this was passable but ultimately unsatisfying. I had all this stuff to read on weekends but scant little to read during the week. I felt I was missing too much.

Taking advantage of a deal offered by an airline frequent flyer program, I traded in a few points for three months of a 7-day-a-week Observer subscription. It didn't take long for me to realize how much I had missed having a newspaper every day.

So when my subscription came up for renewal this week, I picked up the phone, called the Observer, made the best deal I possibly could -- $116 for the year -- and signed up.

It will be 31.9 cents per day very well spent.

I don't read every story, but I read a lot of them. I like how a newspaper organizes stories and lays out the narrative for readers. I like having the baseball box scores on one page. I like having coupons to clip on Sundays and supermarket ads to peruse on Wednesdays (my wife being the main breadwinner, the least I can do is the shopping!). I like the funnies. I like having weekend fun options summarized every Friday.

I like the opinion pages. I like having a daily editorial or two to read. I like letters from fellow readers, opinion pieces from my fellow citizens of the area and national columns from talented, interesting writers I probably wouldn't have stumbled upon online.

Oh, and I like that, despite what so many people say, newspapers still matter. If they didn't why would politicians and athletes always be whining about what's printed in them? I shudder to think where we'd be as a society without our newspapers keep tabs on our elected officials and regulatory agencies.

When my daughter was a high school athlete, she and I would get a real charge out of seeing her name in the Chicago Tribune and/or Sun-Times. We clipped those stories and saved them; we never saved the online equivalent. To this day, Moms and Dads everywhere put newspaper clips on their fridges and send them (the clips, not the fridges) to the grandparents.

Yes, it's "yesterday's news today." Yes, when I want to know what's going on today, I have to look online. Even this lifelong newspaper junkie admits that.

Nevertheless, I like having important news stories and columns presented in a logical, readable form. The national deficit isn't going away tomorrow -- and neither, unfortunately, is Newt Gingrich -- so if I don't read George Will or Paul Krugman for a day or two, it doesn't really matter. I ultimately am getting diverging opinions on important subjects and can choose to agree or disagree.

And I can do it all at my leisure -- sitting comfortably on the glider in our screen porch, on my La-Z-Boy in our rec room or while chilling on our sofa.

If that makes me as obsolete as the newspaper itself, I can live with that.

Now leave me alone. I gotta see what those goofy Zits teenagers are up to today.


  1. Well done and so right. I read three papers every day, The Chicgao Tribune, Joliet Herald and Wall Street Journal. On Thursday, we get the print edition of Tribocal. Like you I don't read every story, but a lot of them. Even manage to get my kids softball travel team in the print editon of TribLocal in the sports section.

    Learning how to be a sports writer. And yes it is hard. I have a new appreciation for your craft.

  2. funny but true...my paper did not come today (state journal register) and it left a huge hole in my morning...power outage in peoria they claim...

  3. If only there were more people like us, the newspaper business wouldn't be in trouble!