Monday, March 16, 2009

The Day I Had Hoped Would Never Come

Unlike the average student, I don't normally block out topics of discussion intentionally. I find that even if I may not have much to offer to the conversation, I could still learn something especially since it's important enough to be brought up by an academic. When it comes to the newspaper industry, however, I unfortunately know too well of the cold hard facts, and so choose to refrain from discussion on it. Mostly it's because I know I am too much of an idealist and optimist on the topic. I would only be lying and fishing around aimlessly for reasons why the industry could stay afloat. The most cold and hard fact I know on this subject is simply this: very few people have a need or desire for print news.

While I knew the day was coming at a fast pace, it still didn't make it any easier for me to read the headlines everywhere proclaiming "Seattle Post-Intelligencer to Print Last Newspaper." The newspaper is moving solely to an online edition. Now, true the Post-Intelligencer is not Seattle's primary newspaper (that would be the Seattle Times). It's a domino effect though that starts with the smaller papers. I have seen the signs in my own city's newspaper The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The paper used to arrive in a large bundle that had the essential News, Metro, Business, Sports, and Entertainment sections along with other additional sections depending on the day of the week. Now you only get the bread and butter.

I realize that the newspaper industry has taken one of the biggest hits in this recessive economy, and they unfortunately had to make cuts somewhere. Long before this global struggle though, newspapers had been fighting one of their very own. Readership and subscription sales were down even in a healthy and at time, prosperous economy. The internet and its accessibility on such devices as the Blackberry, gave way to a new form of getting the news. I don't mean just electronically. The news started coming in short, get-to-the point formatting. A headline, a couple of facts, and possibly a quote thrown in now constitute as an article. For many people, it's apparently all they can handle too. Five minutes is much too long to read about breakthroughs in cancer research or the intense conflicts in Darfur, but God forbid most of us give up the half hour we spend watching E! News Daily.

While I admit, most of the news I receive now comes from my New York Times homepage, or CNN Headline News, I will most gladly spend a decent part of my morning with an actual newspaper. There is no denying the greater impact an actual physical interaction with a newspaper has on the mind. It is like anything else in life. If it is right there for you to feel, see, and spend time with in a personal situation, it's going to be more impressionable to you.

I know I better start getting used to these announcements as they are going to become more frequent. However, I dread the day when I won't even have the choice between the paper and my laptop. What I most worry about is the breakfast table. Gone will be the days of kids fighting for the comics, dads grumbling about the sports columnist, and moms frantically scanning every section for the best sales in town. Maybe since I've been in college I'm not aware that these breakfast tables don't exist anymore anyway. They should though, because while that may not be anyone's idea of a great way to start off their day, I can't imagine anything worse for the morning than listening to four different YouTube videos and iTunes libraries while getting the day's headlines. That is unless Barney came back to morning television.

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