Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Newspapers just an old habit?

Before I retired, I usually read four newspapers every morning. It was part of my job for years and years. Decades.

And now, no matter where I live, I always subscribe to at least two newspapers: the local rag and the NY Times. Before you heat the tar and fluff up some feathers, I don’t read the NYT solely for hard news.

Rather, I fancy the NYT opinion writers plus the paper’s coverage of arts, science, book reviews and features of all sorts. Some of the best writing in America (unlike this sentence fragment). Besides, I rather like having ink on my fingers.

Today, there was a new dawn. I accepted that I had gone over to the dark side. Without realizing it, I have become part of the news consumption future.

For years my morning routine has been to make coffee, turn on some classical music and read the newspapers. Period. I’m a hardcore news junkie. Gotta have it to get my pacemaker pumping. Anticipation.

This morning, I realized I made coffee and turned not to my newspaper but to my computer so I could scan various news aggregators. Whew. Nothing much happened overnight.

Then, before sunup, I sat down with the first newspaper of the day. Twice while reading the StarTrib, I got up to check the computer. Plus a quick peek at CNBC to see how the stock market opened. Back to the newspaper. On deck -- The NY Times.

Then it dawned on me – the newspaper was not current enough for today’s 24-hour news cycle. My newspaper, not even a day old, was filled with old news.

The new reality is that the newspaper industry must come up with a vigorous new business model if they are losing old junkies like me. And they better hurry. I've watched the delivery guys and only four people on our block have home subscriptions.

Excuse me, I’ve got to check CraigsList for a new minivan.

That’s a cruel inside joke. Craigslist has hurt newspapers more than any other electronic innovation. When is the last time you looked for a car in the classifieds?

What? You say this is old news?


Anonymous said...

I still get a print newspaper - USA Today plus I pick up the Statesman on Sunday. But I get the NYT, CSM, McClatchy & USA Today enews every day. And I check Huffington Post, Reuters, and (now maybe) Topix every day or several times a day.


Anonymous said...

Now that I live in the middle of lily white suburbia, I, too have noticed that I am one of the
few that takes the newspaper. I go out in the morning and look around and see maybe only one. They are all young families. Used to be you would go out and get the paper and nod to your neighbors who were doing the same thing, hurridly in their jammies.



sph said...

Talk about synchronicity. We have a similar routine as you but throw in a hike up a hill to get the paper, ducks in the front and back to feed and various feeders and birdbaths to fill. Like you, we sit on the lakeside deck to read the paper and drink coffee. And then today that all changed….

Last night I checked the AP news before I went to bed, and in today’s paper I had already read most of the top stories. The porch discussion this morning was about our small town newspapers and the role they play vs. our subscription to the Statesman.

Don’t think we’ll cancel the American Statesman subscription though, what do you do with your hands while you drink coffee?

Ken Martin said...

Maybe this is reaching but in some ways the trends you keep pointing out remind me of the old, old days when there were three TV networks
to watch and Americans were by and large informed more or less universally by these three, plus a newspaper industry that was more robust, with more than one daily in most good-sized cities.

Now we've got a gazillion TV choices and a lot of folks are doing what you're doing, George, turning to news aggregators to slice and dice
the news and pick just what we want to know about and a lot of folks pretty much ignore the rest. The news media that formed the glue of society are rapidly dissolving and, as a result, society is becoming ever more fragmented. The country is being Balkanized. Pretty soon maybe we won't know much of anything that we didn't purposely set out
to find out about. And that national glue? Gone, baby, gone.

Best regards,


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