Sunday, May 2, 2010

The demise of the American newspaper

Apparently, I'm a dinosaur.




Not this kind.








Not this kind (except maybe last week at work).









And definitely not this kind, since some adults like me.







I'm also not the type of dinosaur which many people believe Adam and Eve rode three thousand years ago.

Nope. I'm a Sunday-morning-newspaper-reading dinosaur. One of the greatest pleasures of the week, from my 47-year-old perspective, is pulling back the handle on the front door, gingerly bending over and lifting that dewy, cellophane-wrapped weekly rag into my waiting embrace.

The headline can always be read through the plastic and above the fold, so the perusal begins even before I pull up a chair at the dining room table and set a steaming cup of life-sustaining brown magic in front of me, thereby establishing a small reading and drinking command center.

First I read the front page, but usually just for the headlines and summaries; I don't normally delve past page A1, because the sports sections beckons far too strongly. After spending about fifteen minutes and the first cup of joe on the sports, it's time to move on to local news. By now, the caffeine has provided enough of a bump to sufficiently gird my loins for the the fires, murders, robberies and other unfortunate events which have happened overnight in my own backyard. Occasionally, someone famous has gotten a DUI, so that's always worth investigating.

And all of this before checking the Facebooks.

Last week I conducted an informal survey of my coworkers, regarding which of them indulges him- or herself in the Sunday paper. I was surprised, yet not surprised. Since the closest person to my age is nine years my junior, they are technically of a different generation, one which doesn't read newspapers.

It's no coincidence why local papers are folding (pun intended) at such a rapid rate. Newspapers are expensive to print and distribute, and by the time they reach the reader, the news is often obsolete. The kids simply aren't reading them because they're joined at the hip by a personal data device 24/7.

Although the demise of the American newspaper is a natural consequence of technological advances, to this old guy, it's a sad harbinger. I'm a newspaper pack rat; I've saved front pages from many historical events, such as the moon landing, Nixon's resignation, the Seattle Supersonics 1979 NBA title, Barrack Obama's election.

It's hard to imagine seeing a historical headline on seattletimes.com, printing it out on 8.5" x 11" copier paper and filing it away in the basement with the other yellowing newsprint. There's something about a 96-point, Helevetica Bold headline that puts anything else to shame.

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