Monday, April 6, 2009

Please Don't Take Our Newspapers Away

Last week the Chicago Sun-Times joined its only major rival the Chicago Tribune in declaring bankruptcy. The Sun-Times spokesperson assured the public that the paper will continue but we all know nothing good will come of this for the devoted newspaper reader. The Tribune promised not to compromise its quality either and look what happened. Now, major news stories sit next to humor pieces and the text is dwarfed by photographs instead of the other way around. And not that the Sun-Times is the bastion of quality and originality. I have a friend who calls it the "AP" paper because it seems all the articles have been purchased from the Associated Press instead of written by Sun-Times journalists, who, presumably have been laid off. Whatever their faults though, I still love these papers.

A newspaper is one of the greatest inventions of mankind, right up there with the wheel, fire and Spanx. Think about it. A group of incredibly smart people observe events occurring around the globe, choose the most important and write it up in short articles for you every single day. There it is - the world - and it's literally on your doorstep every morning. How could anything be more convenient?

As for depth and breadth of coverage, both papers cover local, national and international news. Throw in sports, business, entertainment and my favorite - the Wednesday Food section in the Trib. This is where cooking meets commerce - the recipes are as important as the grocery and wine store ads.

Most importantly, it's the journalists in newspaper that do the investigative reporting, not AP reporters. Without our local investigative reporters in Chicago, none of our politicians would be indicted or presently serving out their jail sentences.

How much does this wonder of information and convenience cost? - the change in your pocket.

Some of my friends argue that we still get the news, only the format has changed. They like the internet better and remind me that in cyberspace, the news is reported as it happens, not the next morning. And for most publications, news is free on the internet. But did you ever try to read an entire newspaper on the computer??? Did you ever try to find a specific article or ad that you had previously seen in the paper??? Did you ever try to balance your laptop and your cup of coffee in your bed on Sunday morning???

Which brings me to the real point of why I love newspapers: it's the ritual of the thing. The stealth moves on the back porch so my neighbors won't see me in my pajamas as I search for the paper; the wafting aroma of the fresh pot of coffee perfectly synchronized with its removal from the plastic wrap; the quiet interrupted only by the sound of a page turning; the thousands of conversations with friends and family starting with the phrase "Did you read in the Trib today?...." Make your Dell do that.

So please help me save the newspapers. Renew your subscription, or better yet, meet me on the third floor of the library to peruse our collection of local, national and international papers. Here's a sampling of what we have:

The Chicago Reader
Des Plaines Journal
Gujarat Times
Wall Street Journal
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Investors Business Daily
Washington Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Tribune
Daily Herald
USA Today
Washington Post
Philadelphia Inquirer
Tampa Review
Arizona Republic
New Russian Word
Los Angeles Times
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
New York Times
New York Post
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Financial Times
India Today
The Onion


Karen Mc. said...

Well, I don't want to rain on your parade, but...I can curl up in bed quite comfortably with laptop on lap, a drink by my side. And since the news became available online, I became a "newspaper" reader for the first time in my life - I never paid the least bit of attention to the news before that time. (Sadly. I can give the events of 9/11/01 credit for my news-reading habit - having no television that day, I was glued to my old iMac, and here I've stayed) I do agree with your comments that the quality of both major Chicago papers has plunged dramatically - the Tribune now devotes most of its home page to contests, cornball hokum disguised as "blogs," and untempered sarcasm masquerading as "political commentary" - not a lot of facts behind the bluster. The Sun-Times so resembles a tabloid, I often forget what I am reading when I thumb through it in the lunchroom. Since I'm always at church on a Sunday morning, there has never been a newspaper ritual in my life - well, there is, but it involves getting up every day, checking my email on my mobile phone, and then reading the news on it, from MSNBC and CNN, while I eat my cereal. Nevertheless -- I truly believe the world will be a lesser place without strong, vibrant, local sources of news. So come on, newspaper readers -- tell us why you've stopped subscribing?

BWChicago said...

I, too, have only started regularly reading papers other than the Journal thanks to Google Reader and Google Alerts - I hear a lot more about what I'm actually interested in this way. I do wish that the Journal would embrace the internet by putting all their content up, using RSS like every other paper, enabling comments, and maybe even scanning their microfilm - although I may be the only Des Plaines expatriate interested in these things.

Anonymous said...

While I love the newspaper and read it daily,I read a blog on the Tribune internet edition (yes, I read both)that said when you read the paper you often learn things you weren't looking for. That has been true so many times.

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