Monday, July 18, 2011

The End is Nigh - Read all About it!


We've blogged a lot about the challenges and changes in the publishing industry but this week I came to the sad realization that I am going to have to put a stop to an institution I have enjoyed since high school - the daily newspaper delivery. Call it another casualty of the digital age, but I have finally succumbed to grim reality: I don't read the newspaper like I used to...Not that I don't read the newspaper, I just don't physically turn the paper pages anymore.

Since moving to Australia I tried to hold on to the past joys of paper, I really did, but then events conspired to finally make me realize that, yes, even for this home delivery stalwart...the end was nigh.

It came in increments - first was the cling wrap they use to entomb the newspapers here (it requires a Ph.D and more patience than I own to unwrap), then it was the endless rain that still managed to make said entombed paper soggy as mush. Then it was the fact that the newspaper was never delivered until 7:30am, sometimes even 8am, which rendered it utterly useless (I had already read the news online, had breakfast and got the kids ready for school
by then). We also have one of the steepest, longest driveways in the world (see photo - mailbox it over the rise in the upper right hand corner!) - not something you want to trek up in the wee hours of the morning only to discover the newspaper hasn't come.

Finally there was the content...now, I know many of my Melbournian friends will be in up in arms, but truly, the local newspapers here are pathetic. Filled with tawdry details of scandals involving local footballers and schoolgirls, it was hard to find any decent international news or any opinion that doesn't sound like it was written by an elementary school kid. We tried changing papers but to no avail. I had to accept the fact that I found Australian news boring.

And so the guillotine fell...

Of course the real reason for the demise of the physical newspaper in our house has been the rise of the digital newspaper equivalent. I subscribe to the New York Times on my iPad and its crossword (one of my obsessions). I can read all the local newspapers online as well as the San Francisco Chronicle (for what that's worth). I can even indulge my love of low-brow gossip by reading London's Daily Mail on the web. I also have apps on my iPad for the local ABC and SBS news services, the BBC, CNN, and PBS. Every morning I open the NPR app and listen to the hourly news. I follow that up by opening the BBC app and listening to the BBC world service. So, as you can see, the digital age we live in can cater for all my news-hungry ways!

So why would I keep having the newspaper delivered?Sadly, for many years I have been one of the last holdouts as newspaper circulation has dropped precipitously. Although I love sitting down and thumbing through a fresh newspaper every morning, even I have admitted defeat. Though I cannot forget that there was something visceral about the reading experience that I loved. Unlike reading a newspaper online, there was a sense of a slow, leisurely absorption of the news of the day, rather than the frenetic click and skim approach I now have to many news items. I loved how I used to stumble upon articles that I would have otherwise ignored. That doesn't happen nearly as often online.

So this week marks the end of an era for me. I just can't hang on to my newspaper anymore. What about you? Have you cast off the shackles of paper delivered news? Do you have any regrets? Any longings for the old days when you could sit down on a Sunday with a cup of coffee and take your time lifting and turning page after page?

16 comments:

  1. Actually, I never read the newspaper, even when print was the only option. But the digital revolution has even affected magazines for me.

    After my recent move, which included a great many heavy boxes full of books, I swore off paper books. I was in Barnes & Noble Friday night and was not even tempted to look at print books, but I *almost* bought a paper copy of Writers Digest magazine. But then I put it back. It would just be more cluter for my already over-stuffed shelves.

    I don't know if WD has a digital equivalent, I haven't yet checked, but Kindle is now the means through which my world is now filtered.

    BK Jackson

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  2. Fun post. Clare. Reading a newspaper with my husband has always been "a thing" we do. We discuss artickes we find interesting and I love the puzzles, he loves the cartoons, but the newspapers during the week are slim pickings for anything worthwhile. I get news from so many other sources online, that a paper version is only worth skimming. My husband orders it still, but I could do without it. He's the only reason I still get one.

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  3. Just think of how many trees you're saving!

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  4. Andrea, I know, but I still miss the paper somehow! As BK pointed out the digital revolution is making us swear off paper all together (and given how many e-books I have got now, I'd have to agree). Jordan, my husband and I use to read the paper together too - it was a morning ritual. I started with the front and then read the arts section. He started with the business section or property report. Then we would swap bits. Now he has no time to read the newspaper and gets all his news online. It's a bit sad as it means we certainly don't talk about the articles like we used to. That being said, since we had kids, we don't tend to be able to linger over anything anymore, let alone a conversation about the day's news!

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  5. Clare, My wife and I have separate computers in separate rooms, and will often ask each other during the day, "Did you see this or that article on your home page?" We occasionally glance at the newspaper, but its days are definitely numbered in our household.

    And do I miss the calmer days when we sat at the table and read the paper together? Definitely. To paraphrase, "The Internet is too much with us, late and soon."

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  6. I'm still holding out by reading the newspaper with my coffee each morning. And I like the mystery of walking down the end of the driveway to see if the guy threw the paper in the bushes, my neighbor's yard, or right where my sprinklers hit. The whole concept is on life support. Most news comes from the Internet and TV. Check back with me tomorrow.

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  7. I just had this conversation with my mother, Mimi, who lives in South Carolina. She said that if you live in a small market, the newspaper is the only way to find out about local news and events. She says you can't get that information easily online. Myself, I'm turning to online resources more frequently these days for national and international news. I've cut my subscription to the LA Times back to 4 days a week; even so, I seldom open the physical paper anymore. Over time I've gradually started depending on online resources for anything I need.

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  8. The paper news still comes to my house but only on weekends, and primarily for the adverts and comics. By the time I pick up the paper I have already seen the headlines via online news sources. But the comics can never be replaced.

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  9. Despite multiple requests to cancel the free ones that appear on my doorsteps (paid subscriptions were cancelled 10 yrs ago), they still appear there twice a week. Such thing goes directly (intact?) to the recycle bag.

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  10. Stopped getting the newspaper about 10 years ago because the "news" was awful. Sensationalism, crime and gossip just didn't make for the start of a good day. Don't watch the news much either, for the same reasons.

    I know. I must make a bad conversationalist at parties, but believe me, I get by because when I claim ignorance on current events, there's someone more disgusted than I ready and willing to fill us in.

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  11. Thanks to Basil for reminding me of the comics. My father still reads those first! Joe, our newspaper deliverer usually specializes in throwing the paper into puddles where it also has maximum chance of being run over - either that or we never find it for two weeks in the undergrowth! The joys of living in the country...ignorance may be bliss, Kathleen but I am too much of a news junkie...but the end of paper newspapers is definitely nigh!

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  12. I haven't subscribed in about 10 years, have been reading online for about 3. Don't miss the delivered paper at all -- unless I have something that needs soaking up. Most of my writer friends have stopped subscribing, too. Yeah, I'd say the days are numbered.

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  13. Funny, just today I canceled my SF Chronicle subscription, for many of the same reasons. I still get the NY Times on the weekends, but frequently it goes directly into to the recycling bin since I don't have time to devote to it. And the truth is that all newspapers are day old news by the time they arrive on your doorstep.

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  14. Clare - I just couldn't deprive my dog Tess of her "Fetch it!" ritual every morning!

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  15. I get our little local rag for $8/month to support a local business as much as for any other reason. I also like the local classifieds and garage sale listings.

    That said, for "big" news and international news, I go straight to the online versions of the papers and the networks. I have a CBS widget on my desktop and click through it when something interesting scrolls by.

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  16. And of course, don't forget that you can get the very most important part of the paper--the comics--by e-mail or RSS subscription, too! :-)

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