Remember when our world was divided between readers of the morning Inquire and the evening Bulletin? Everyone was solidly one or the other. Readers of the Daily News did not admit it.
The Bulletin, my family’s tradition, came out in several daily editions. The first (as I remember) was the “Bulldog edition” in early afternoon. Then came the Two-Star, Three-Star, and, finally, the Four-Star, or “Sports Final” edition late in the evening. People would actually wait at a newsstand for the next edition to arrive.
A few days ago, I was shivering in my garage calculating whether it was more responsible to cart a growing stack of newspapers to a recycle bin or conserve gasoline and throw them in the trash. I concluded the best may be to save them for a future Antiques Roadshow.
Newspapers are dying. Neither of my sons have newspapers delivered and no one anymore routinely picks up a newspaper on their daily commute. I suspect my grandchildren do not even know what a newspaper is.
Judy Young pointed out in an e-mail that the proper way of folding a newspaper to read on a crowded commuter train is a lost art. I noticed this on a recent flight from Florida as a passenger tried to read his newspaper by holding it out in the aisle. In my day, everyone knew how to go through an entire newspaper folding and unfolding it so it was never more than a quarter of its full size.
I am between technologies. Each morning, I read our local newspaper, but backwards, starting with the comics, then the local section, and the front last. The sad fact is, the comics are the most interesting part and I already know the national news on the front page. I then read the Wall Street Journal online and quickly check the online Pensacola newspaper where my grandchildren live.
Reading a newspaper on a computer screen no where nearly matches the pleasant tactile experience of reading the printed version. But it does have its advantages. The online Wall Street Journal is much cheaper than the printed version, saves me from walking out in rain and snow to get it, and is ecologically preferable. I can also read a newspaper published anywhere in the country.
But the biggest online advantage is in saving articles. I have always been a clipper of articles, even having a small plastic device called a “Clipit,” which is about the size of a nail clipper only with an imbedded knife blade that neatly slices out an article. But clipping is not the problem. What can you do with dozens of oddly shaped, flimsy pieces of newspaper? With an online article, I can quickly download and index it. Even years later, I can find and instantly view it.
All this is very efficient, but there is something appealing about a drawer full of scattered clippings. You usually end up finding something more interesting than what you were looking for, sort of how most of us found our spouses.