An Old Friend, On His Way Out

Being a newspaper subscriber is kind of like owning a 15-year-old dog. You don’t know exactly when the experience is going to end, but you might want to hold off on buying another bag of kibble.

I am by no means a Luddite. I’m an avid Internet enthusiast and, in fact, earn much of my living writing for the Web. But I’m also a lifelong newspaper reader. You know, print newspapers. So when I hear talk of several cities possibly going “without a daily print paper by 2010” – and that the New York Times could respond to its financial struggles by shuttering my beloved Boston Globe – I get a little teary.

Now I’ll admit, the “newspaper-industry-is-dying” angle has been done to, well, death in recent years. As’s Jack Shafer points out, “The only reason we’re so well-informed about journalists’ suffering is they have easy access to a megaphone.”

Nonetheless, I’m going to miss the old dinosaur. And my seven-month-old daughter has helped drive home this point by waking up at 5:30 each morning. I trudge down two flights of stairs, cranky baby in my arms, in the slim hope that my Globe will be resting on my front porch. It never is – not at that hour.

My only solution is to plop my laptop on the breakfast table and call up But it’s just not the same. It’s no fun reading the comics. I can’t divvy up the reading with my wife – me, the sports; her, the front page. And every session is a dance with disaster, with my mug of coffee on one side of the laptop and a bowl of baby cereal on the other. (Not to mention the ever-present threat of baby spit-up.)

Yeah, I’m sounding like an old man. But I’m a loyal guy. And if that means going down with the sinking ship that is print newspapers, so be it.

Are you going to miss the ritual of the daily newspaper? Share your thoughts.

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8 replies
  1. Michael Flint says:

    Hey Dan, Personally, I never liked the newspaper. It made my fingers and the couch black, and the page size was too big for me to handle. But I do like the “magazine sections” that come with the Sunday paper. And the ads…

    Instead of missing the old format, you should really embrace the new. I have an RSS reader on my Blackberry and I sneak in reading the news all the time. (I read your article before I got out of bed this morning – do that with the paper in your driveway!) I catch up on articles while waiting for my excruciatingly slow children to brush their teeth, get their coats on for school, find their socks. And all the content is exactly what I’ve asked for. Make Blackberry your new best friend.

    Coincidentally, I just posted an article last night called “Print Isn’t Dead — Its Just Got A New Name“.

  2. Jeff Stern says:

    This is a thoughtful reflection and more or less captures how I feel. Although, I think I would probably WOULD call myself a Luddite. It’s hard to separate what is nostalgia (this reminds me of happy times), what is momentum (this is what I’m used to), and what is a reasonable objection (the screen gives me a headache and bloggers are stupid). Of course, all of this is somewhat challenged and refuted by the fact that Dan’s very nice article was, in fact, published online, and that we are able to have this open forum discussing it in a way not possible in a newspaper.

    Fearing the day when all news is deciminated via Facebook status updates,


  3. Dan says:

    You never liked the newspaper? We come from different planets… I love the concept of sneaking peeks via Blackberry — esp. while waiting on kids — but I’m anti-Blackberry. My semi-Luddite nature means I crave disconnecting from the digital world after being connected during the work day. But a good suggestion nonetheless…

  4. Dan says:

    Interesting point about nostalgia vs. momentum vs. reasonable objections. Does online dissemination of news qualify as “momentum”? Certainly, esp. in terms of opening up discussions like these to the reader. But in my ideal world, I’d be able to maintain a healthy balance b/w the online (for my work day) and print (for my breakfast, at least). Of course, I fear my online world will soon be trampled by the economic reality.

  5. Barb Wright says:

    Let’s talk about economic reality, shall we? I lost my job as an editorial assistant for a busy community newspaper company almost a year ago. The reason was due to a decline in newspaper sales and ad revenue. It goes like this: people stop buying newspapers, so the real estate brokers and other business people stop advertising in the newspaper and switch to online and television advertising. The budget for the newspaper decreases and they have to cut costs, like letting people go.
    Maybe I’m in serious denial here, but I don’t think the printed newspaper will ever completely disapear. Not everyone has a computer and/or Internet access 24/7. And, what about power outages? We once lost power for almost a week. I did a lot of reading during that time. Because I work on the computer, I refuse to bring one with me when I go on vacation, so I read the newspaper instead.
    Am I indulging myself in wishful thinking? I sure hope not! I’d like to see newspapers continue for many years to come. I like the smell of fresh ink on paper, the sound it makes when you open it and fold it back and doing the crossword puzzle with a real pen.

  6. Johnny Mac says:

    Against all odds, it looks like the newspapers are fighting back!

    Are you secretly behind this effort?

    How this plays out will be interesting to watch, though like every Three’s Company episode, the ending isn’t in doubt. That’s bad news for us newspaper-philes, I’m afraid. I’ll see you over at

  7. Ted Villa says:

    Well said. We’re on the same page, pardon the pun. Life without the ink-stained hands will be somewhat cleaner, but definitely more boring. Also, having spent years in NYC, it’s much easier to fold a paper in thirds lengthwise and read wedged between others than it is to pull out a laptop (though maybe not a BB/iPhone)onto which you’ve downloaded an article.

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  1. […] I don’t mean that I have a newspaper bag taped to my office wall. (Yeah, we at The Hired Pens still read the newspaper.) Don’t see it? Okay, here’s a hint: This landed on my stoop three days ago. May 2010. […]

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