Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On Publishing

Recently I've noticed a disturbing tendency around our house.

It's the newspaper -- the print version, the one the paper-person delivers to our house every morning, sometimes in the yard, sometimes in the flower bed, sometimes, even, neatly wrapped and placed symmetrically on the doorstep.

We bring it into the house, undo it from the rubber band or plastic wrapper, and bring it into the living room with our morning coffee. We put it on the coffee table, settle in, and open our computers.

We're a household of nerds. My husband has a tablet, while I still have a laptop. Sometimes we trade off, but it doesn't really matter, because we are both reading the news, but we are reading it online, even while the printed newspaper sits right there on the coffee table.

After a few minutes, one of us goes offline and picks up the paper, peruses it, finishes the coffee in our cup. Sometimes we even read an item or two out loud. Then we put the paper down, and go back online.


It occurred to me that our daily newspaper is much smaller than it used to be -- smaller in a physical sense, as the actual pages themselves seem to have shrunk, and smaller in the number of pages and sections. Smaller, too, in what is covered, in the scope of what newsprints brings into our range of awareness.

There used to be whole sections devoted to "Home and Garden," where we could read about what's new in housekeeping, in yard care, in home maintenance, in decorating trends. There were whole sections devoted to food and shopping, and frequent articles about child care and family life. Some were locally written, others by regional or national columnists with impressive credentials.

We could find pieces about local houses of architectural or historical interest. We could see photographs of local gardens, read about people who knew how to do things like upholstery, or wallpapering, or laying tile.

There used to be sections about "Business" that covered local business news as well as national and international business stories, and didn't just replay stories we saw online yesterday. There were travel features, in-depth analyses of world news, and a selection of opinion pieces that offered differing viewpoints about current events.

There were local interest stories that didn't fit into any specific categories, but that informed us of what friends and neighbors were doing. 

I miss those things. Their absence is what keeps me from spending much time with newsprint these days -- our local paper tries to keep those kinds of stories alive, but staff and budget cuts make it more and more difficult for them to offer them. And diminishing subscriptions in turn make it more difficult to maintain staff and budgets that allow for creativity and  excellence.

What would draw me back to newsprint? Or is it becoming obsolete as we all move to different sources of information and entertainment?

What would draw you?