"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hold and fold

How great it is to sit on the couch on a raining morning, reading the New York Times, page by page thumbing through it.
A cup of coffee on the table and the cat in your lap as you watch the rain coming down on the front walk. Should have started a fire in the fireplace and put on some music, but even without that, the feel of newsprint between my fingers.
My friend Jim Watson lights up with a smile and laugh when I tell him this at Panera bread church this morning. It's great--you can't get that experience looking at a computer screen.

Every time we meet he asks me about the future of the newspaper industry. He expects me to know, and if I did, I'd be rich. But I do tell him there is no on e "newspaper industry. I bought a copy of Harper's at the bookstore last night, because of the lead story: "Final Edition--Twilight of the American Newspaper." It talks about big cities losing their metropolitan papers--San Francisco and Philadelphia for example. It too makes a mistake--there are only 60 or so newspapers of that size, out of more than 1,400 daily newspapers in American, and 5,000 weeklies, not counting free circulation newspapers. Many of them are very healthy financially and are holding on to readers, and adapting to the new technologies.

But nobody denies many newspapers are in trouble financially because of loss of ad revenue, technology, debt, and corporate profit demands. That does not mean they're going to disappear...they may change, as they always have with technology--we journalists are children of technology--but like education, it's not the technology.
People will pay for reliable information. But where will they get it?
one disturbing note from the Harper's article--when a newspapers dies, people under 30 won't even notice.

As a newspaperman, even I get most of my news online, because it's quick. Yes, you have to always verify sources, but that's true of any medium. But like one of my students, Vista editor Laura Hoffert, said recently, "I bleed ink." Picking up the Times every day, and getting it on the driveway Sundays is a sensual experience, a reward you only get with "hold and fold."

1 comment:

  1. Reading the newspaper with the cat in my lap! One of my favorite things. It's just not the same at a computer. Cats know these things!

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