Reading the paper


The Morning Oregonian, July 4, 1917, page 16*

Where do you get your news?  What do you read?  Do you read your news?

Do you read your news on paper?

I still read the paper.  Every day?  No.  Certainly not like I used to.  I guess I’m like millions of others out there in the world.  I get most of my “real” news online via RSS feeds or as much as anything lately, from any number of Twitter feeds I watch in Tweetdeck.  But for some reason, and I’m sure it’s ingrained in me from childhood or something, I will from time to time chose to sit down with a cup of coffee and the daily paper and peruse.  What’s interesting to me is that I often find things in the paper that I haven’t run across online.  Not the big story of the day, certainly, but almost always there’s something I find in the pages of a local newspaper that hasn’t been covered by the not-so-local news agglomeration service that i read on my phone.

There is a value to holding the actual sheets of dried tree pulp in my hand.  It’s hard to explain, but I find that I read differently when I’m reading actual paper.  Goes for books too.  I’m kind of a Kindle addict, but that’s only for convenience sake.  From time to time I like to settle down with an actual bound paper book as well.  But when I’m sitting there with the paper and my coffee either at home or the local caffeine emporium, there seems to be a subtle mood or mind shift as I read.  It’s relaxing somehow.  There’s something about being able to skim your eyes over the whole of a broadsheet and pick out the next thing you want to look at.  You’re not swiping or tapping or fiddling with buttons or the like.  And I long ago mastered the basic technique of flipping the entirety of the paper over to the next page – kind of like fluffing a bed sheet to get it to settle on the mattress, you know?

The paper also doesn’t need to be continually tapped or stroked in order to stay awake and visible and you don’t need to worry about the battery dying or a text message popping up in the middle of an article.  Honestly, I think all of that other stuff is what makes reading news on a device, for me anyway, nerve jangling in a certain way.

We know that the traditional newspaper industry has been dying for a long while now.  It’s closely being followed by the traditional TV news business too.  The latter I don’t mind so much.  I mourn the former to a certain extent.

So for the moment, while I can, I’ll still grab a morning paper and a coffee and have a seat and spend some time just perusing what the editors chose to show me that day.  I’ll enjoy it and someday, in some future year, I’ll think back to a time when there was still a thing known as a “newspaper” that was a tangible, physical object with some level of permanence.




* The image in this post is page 16 of The Morning Oregonian from July 4, 1917.  The main article on the page is about the opening of Portland’s brand new $600,000 municipal auditorium.  It’s one of the places I work now – but today, it’s known as the Keller Auditorium.