In the last few weeks, I have been spending more time in the building of the newspaper that I write for. I love the job, but being in the office is a little sad. The walls are lined with awards and pictures of the celebration that happened when the newspaper won its two Pulitzer Prizes, yet more than half of the cubicles sit empty. It's hard not to walk the long halls and think how different it would have been to work at the publication fifteen or twenty-years ago, in the hay day of printed news.
Last week, a group of high school students came in for a tour. One chaperone had her daughter with her, a girl who was about three. "We're going to see where the newspapers are printed!" the mother told the girl, before pausing. She looked down at her daughter. "Do you know what a newspaper is?" The girl looked at her quizzically. "It's like a book," the Mom floundered. "But not really, because you throw it away everyday."
At first I was shocked. Newspapers are such an institution in our society. How could this child whose parent is a teacher at a prestigious school not know what a newspaper was? Then, I realized that I cannot name anyone who subscribes to the paper. It made me wonder - will my kids know what a newspaper is? By the time they have kids, will there by newspapers?
Although I wasn't willing to subscribe to a print paper, I did enter the twenty-first century and get a digital subscription to The New York Times this week. For months (maybe years), I have been pulling up the homepage simply to read the headlines. I would carefully select which articles I wanted to read, and pull up the site on different devices to get the most out of my ten free articles each month. Now, I can access the whole newspaper on my phone, and I am loving immersing myself in all the articles I can. As a journalist, I feel better that I am paying for what I am reading. I would not produce content for free, so why should I consume it for free? I, for one, know what a newspaper is, and have found a way to make newspapers work for me.
What about you? Where do you get most of your news? Blogs, The Colbert Report or from a newspaper? In the digital age, what do you still read in print?
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