February 13, 2014

I Miss a Good Morning Newspaper






Like many folks in my generation, a morning paper in the driveway was part of my life for as long as I can remember. My parents subscribed for all the time they lived independently and I developed the same habit. Except while away at college, I started my mornings with a paper and a cup of coffee. At one point I actually subscribed to two daily papers: the local one and the New York Times.  

I grew up reading the Boston Globe, considered one of the best papers in the country for decades. Later, daily papers in Cedar Rapids, Salt Lake City, Tucson, and Phoenix started my days. I never gave it much thought: papers were just part of the fabric of life. 

Obviously, that is no longer the case. Print newspapers are an endangered species. Each year produces a growing list of cities and towns without a printed paper. For many cities that still have a physical paper, it may be delivered only a few days a week. The paper has gotten thinner, the ink smudges more easily, and the desperation of subscription telemarketers increases with each call.

Aware that many people get their news and information from the Internet, most newspapers have made a valiant effort to develop and promote a digital version of the paper. Some, like the New York Times, have seen strong growth in this area. In fact, one report I saw noted the Times added over 600,000 digital subscribers last year alone.    


As anyone who has tried to access the digital version of their local or national newspaper knows, there are problems. Reading a story on a tablet or even a laptop isn’t the same as turning pages. It just isn’t. Ads in the print version are more easily avoidable than videos that suddenly start up on line, or ads that crawl across the screen and pop up in the middle of a story. 

Most sites now have pay walls, so you can get a little of the paper’s content but after a point you must subscribe to be able to read the rest. If you subscribe to the print version the digital version is either added in or comes for a small premium, but a digital subscription alone costs about as much as having the paper end up in your driveway. 

Besides the physical decline in virtually all newspapers is the serious drop in quality. In Phoenix, the 6th largest city in the country, our only major newspaper has local news restricted to two or three pages. Business news? Two pages. The arts?  Today that means movies and pop music. Interested in books, paintings and dance, or other forms of artistic expression? Don’t look for much in the newspaper.  

I am quite aware that the Internet and all the forms of social connection and information exchange makes the traditional form of newspaper news delivery obsolete and much too expensive to produce.  

That doesn’t mean I can’t be sad I don’t have a high quality, entertaining, and informative alternative waiting for me each morning. Reading a good morning newspaper allowed me to start the day slowly and at my own pace.


I miss it.


33 comments:

  1. Same with books. My husband keeps trying to get me to buy a Kindle, but I really like the feel and smell of a good book in my hands! I, too, like to read a newspaper. You find so many little tucked away articles and tidbits.

    Ann M

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    1. I have a Kindle but still prefer hard copy books when I can get them from the library. We are on an RV trip at the moment so a Kindle does have an advantage: less to carry!

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    2. I agree. I also have a Kindle but oftentimes prefer hardcopies as well. But when you are traveling and space is a premium, that Kindle can be a God send.

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  2. For my mother, and many folks her age who have no computer (and no interest in getting one!) the loss of the print paper is especially hard. She still has a print paper 3 times a week, but the content is thin. It won't be long before this is gone too.

    Our digital paper is OK, but I miss the ability to visually scan a couple of pages at a time.The experience is not the same. The other thing that happened with the local paper's switch to digital was the lost of good editing skills. I have come to believe that the articles are not edited at all! Poor spelling, poor grammar, stories that do not flow, incomplete information. You get the picture. When the local newspaper went digital, it sold to a new company. It seems they downgraded the quality as well. It's free, so I guess that means we should not expect much!

    I love the NY Times, but I resist paying for their digital service. This limits me to the 10 free articles a month. Same with Washington Post. Al Jazeera and Huffington Post are my sources for national and international news. Both free! Al Jazeera is especially well written and balanced.

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    1. I wonder what the future of journalism schools will be. You are so right; the quality and proofing have suffered badly from the erosion of print.

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    2. As a former inhabitant of the Middle East, I never thought I would hear the words "Al Jazeera" as being balanced. It is delightful if the paper, that referred to Israel as "occupied Jerusalem and Palestine". has changed for their American interests.
      I still get my local paper. I grit my teeth and pay the price, because I think it is important. Since we do not have a local news station, the paper is the only way to know what is happening.

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  3. Me,too,Bob.Used to love my morning paper.The Az. republic just lost so much quality and of course, I can get more timely news online. The columnists and arts section are so awful.. just not worth it. I love it when we are on vacation and stop in at a Starbucks or Panera for breakfast and I can read their copy of the NEW YORK TIMES or WALL STREET JOURNAL.. bliss!! Ahh.. life's small pleasures. I AM thinking of getting the SUNDAY paper back again when we move..the coupons I off set the price of the paper..

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    1. My daughter gets two copies of the Sunday paper just for the coupons. Her family doesn't read the actual paper. She is such a master coupon-user she saves $40-$50 a trip to the store with double values and BOGO deals.

      Since Gannett bought the AZ Republic several years ago, the quality and local feel has disappeared.

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    2. When I did a paper route as a young boy, my biggest thrill (after making $, of course) was being the first to read the Sunday paper. Sitting out back on a nice summer morn, with no one else up or around, was a great way to start the day. Even now I look forward to the Sunday paper, the Knoxville edition, since our local community is small and has a 3 day/week edition with no Sunday printing.

      Your daughter is after my own heart, Bob. I oftentimes buy extra Sunday papers for the coupons alone. If you use them it is worth the extra $.

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    3. The local Dollar Tree stores sell the Sunday paper for $1 instead of the regular $2...she has even figured out how to save money on buying the paper!

      I had an afternoon paper route while living in Cambridge, Ohio. The route started at least a mile from my home, down a big hill from where we lived. Either I was a budding businessman or lazy, but on snowy days I would pay other boys to deliver the paper for me. I made a little money but stayed dry and warm.

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  4. I start my morning slowly and at my own pace with my digital newspapers. My small town newspaper even has a digital version. I now get so many different versions of the news that was impossible with only one printed newspaper. The newspaper for most of central Indiana has always been the Indianapolis Star/News. It is owned by the Quayle family and therefore very conservative in its views.

    High Tech/High Touch is a theory that when things become higher technology we still need things that are high touch to counterbalance them. I do still get a handful of paper magazines to fufill that need and admit that when we are on vacation on the road I usually pick up the room delivered copy of USA today before turning on my laptop.

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    1. Yes, USA Today is a special treat when we go out to breakfast or are traveling. There is something about a cup of coffee and a morning paper that will always be special for me.

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  5. I was not a morning paper reader until I retired a couple of years ago. I heard folks talk about it,but knew that if I sat down to read (or watch the morning news) in the morning, I'd never get to work. I find that I really enjoy it, although my small paper isn't all that fancy. I read blogs, the daily paper from the larger town 30 miles away (where I worked for 28 years) & the twice weekly papers from the two small towns, one where I live & one 10 miles away. It's like hard copy books; I'm aware that they will probably go away, but I'm enjoying them today.

    pam

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    1. My favorite TV news and feature program is the long-running Sunday Morning on CBS. Charles Osgood and his bow tie have just the right feel to start the morning. Most weeks I miss it because of church, but during the summer or when one of us is sick and we stay home, we really enjoy the mix of hard news and features, without the political spin.

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  6. Ah, the newspaper. A remnant of a more leisurely lifestyle. We still get the New York Times on Saturday and Sunday -- the "weekender" edition, which is really the only time we have to read the paper.

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    1. I received the Friday-Sunday NYT package until the price was set to double. I notice an offer in my inbox this morning offering a good rate for "former subscribers." Maybe I'll sign up again.

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  7. Love my morning papers. We take three. The Wall Street Journal, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution and a small paper for the small town (suburb) in which we live. Still get my more timely hard news via internet but like local stuff, events, profiles, lifestyle from local papers. The AJC has certainly declined in quality and volume over the years. Still like WSJ as it has great non-political articles (as well as political) especially when it devotes sections to seniors. Small local paper is sort of quirky but give me insight into the thinking of the people around me.. though I seldom agree with them, they mean well. And if a neighborhood kid gets an academic honor or gets the winning touchdown, I know about it. One great thing about retirement is getting to spend an hour over breakfast with a real paper (or three) in hand.

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    1. Three papers: you are my hero! The one thing about a solid local paper I really miss is the section that details the things that Betty and I can do; festivals, art shows, free concerts in the park.....Yes, it is available on line but in a much less convenient manner and interrupted with pop up ads.

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  8. My favorite time of the day...mornings with coffee and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Even though I get news all day everyday from the internet, I love mornings with my paper! Unfortunately the Inquirer is going through a legal battle between the owners and I'm not sure how it's going to turn out. I do know they've made it less relevant recently, which pisses me off. There are reporters I enjoy reading, and that won't change. I subscribe to NYT, Washington Post, and a few other pubs online. It will never replace that relaxing morning read, tho. Ahhh...change is hard.

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    1. I remember the Inquirer being an excellent paper. I have read about the legal battle and wish all Philadelphia newspaper lovers good luck.

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  9. I found a way around the 10 articles per month before you have to pay for a subscription. If you are interested, you can email me.

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    1. Quality costs money. Newspapers or magazines must generate income to stay in business. I don't encourage ways to skirt the pay wall. To me that is no different than tapping into a neighbor's cable feed to get cable TV for free.

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  10. It's The Dallas Morning News for me with my coffee and crossword puzzle. Used to have to wait until I got home from work to read the paper but not now. The Times Herald folded over a decade ago so now I'm without a choice but the News does have the section about festivals, etc. that you mentioned. I'm also a "real book" person but understand the convenience of electronic reading for some folks. I know my newspaper will eventually go away but I'm hoping to have it around for a while.

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    1. Betty and I are reading a book together and working through the discussion section during our lunch hour. Sitting under a tree on this beautiful afternoon at our RV site near Cottonwood, AZ, the Kindle is a perfect choice. But, later I will pull out a paperback suggested by a reader (Thomas Perry) and find that very pleasant as well.

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  11. Yes I have to agree with you Bob. I'm one of those who has turned to the Internet. I have found, after much searching that real news, information, etc. The news is still there. I only wish more people would do the same
    And get themselves a better outlook on life and the world.
    I'm presently looking for information on City Beekeeping, and on how to set up a City Beekeeper's Co-Op.
    I'm amazed at the number of great people out there who want to be part of something real and meaningful
    Thank You for your post,
    Have a great day
    Paul

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    1. The one thing about the Internet that we now take for granted is no matter what your interest you can find all the information you will ever need only seconds away. You can connect with people anywhere in the world who share your passion. City Beekeeping is a good example. I venture to guess there are way more people who share your interest than any of us could possible imagine.

      Even so, give me an excellent newspaper and I'd be happy.

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  12. I live in a tiny town and subscribe to our local newsletter. In that newsletter, I can learn who is holding a fundraiser for a local family suffering through a tragedy, who has been arrested, what is playing at the local opera house (lovely old building), what artist will be featured on Art Friday, For other news, it's digital for me.

    I can offer insight into the question as to whether articles are proofread these days. I'm a writer for a website concerned with technical analysis of the financial markets. Writers who work for this newsletter must combine some knowledge of technical analysis of the markets with the ability to write in a conversational style. I write two articles a week. I can confirm your suspicions that articles are not proofed, at least for our publication.

    Many years ago, I submitted copy and images separately. Someone else added html codes, inserted the images in the appropriate places, and presumably performed at least cursory proofreading before uploading the article. Now, I'm expected to insert my own html codes and upload all material to the website. It's not edited. The longest of these two articles is a 4,000-5,000 word article discussing the developments on the bourses across the globe, also detailing the geopolitical and economic events that might have led to those developments. The article also includes eleven annotated charts. You can imagine that, after beginning work at about 5:00 am, my brain is addled by the time I'm proofreading the article twelve hours later, trying to meet deadline. When I proofread, I sometimes read what I think I wrote rather than what I actually typed. My pay--below the projected minimum wage--is the same as it was more than a decade ago, and my pay is sometimes delayed for several months in a row when my publisher experiences cash flow problems. This is not unusual in the writing world. A friend who is an educational writer spends much of her time wheedling pay for completed projects out of publishers and developers despite air-tight contracts that specify when she will be paid. She's also an attorney. Still, like you, I grow frustrated with writers who type "there" when they mean "their" or use a semi-colon incorrectly. I am frustrated, but I understand.

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    1. Obviously you love to write and communicate, otherwise you wouldn't put up with all the hassles!

      Proofing your own work is very difficult. As you noted, we tend to see what we expect to see, not necessarily what has been typed. I swear I found a typo every single time I proofed my last book, which probably was over forty times before publishing it.

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    2. As an example of how difficult it can be to edit one's own work when writing quickly, I edited my first paragraph in my comment to take out a phrase. As a result, I ended up with several phrases not joined with a final conjunction and a sentence ending with a comma!

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  13. I read our newspaper daily, it costs a bundle but I am from newspaper people and would never consider not having the daily newspaper to read and yes I do drink tea, have always been different that way, a big cup of green tea with mandarin orange and also some dark black tea to start my day and the paper..I read it from head to toe and my hubs gets it all put back together..It is just the way we are..We can't believe others don't get the paper, there is so much news in it that is vital..I read the seattle pi but get blocked from the seattle times daily, it is a shame, I would love to know what it going on in the biggest city in the state which trickles down to all the rest of the state, it is unfortunate that most citizens did not fight for their local newspapers to know what the heck was going on in their community, it is! I can tell what a person is like if they know about their local newspapers and what is going on, it is to me a sign of intelligence! The newspaper and my tea or for my hubs cocoa..what a good way to start the day!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Spoken with the passion of a true newspaper person!

      By the way, my wife has never had a cup of coffee in her life. She is a tea person, too.

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  14. Without a friend to help, the best way to do quality proofing of your writing is to read it out loud. Of course, there is a disadvantage. Anyone who observes you in action will think you've gone off the deep end.

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    1. Reading out loud does help, but for whatever reason my brain still "sees" words as it expects them to be rather than as they are.

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