Paper Chase


As if it’s not dire enough here in Detroit, looks like we’re about to lose daily home delivery of our two city newspapers the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. Those of us who dart out jammie-clad in the early morning for our daily dose of news and mayhem will only have to make that trip thrice weekly now — Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Abbreviated versions of the papers will still be available on newsstands but for who knows how long. Readers are expected and encouraged to go online for the web version.

Except I don’t want to read an entire newspaper on my computer first thing in the morning. It’s one thing to dribble an errant a spoonful of milk on the front page of the Freep. No way I’ll risk short-circuiting my keyboard. And besides, I’m online enough. I don’t particularly want more face time with my computer screen. You and I are at least digitally comfortable. Those who aren’t will likely be sidelined altogether. And I won’t even get into the deeper staff cuts this move presages.

Newspaper. How many years before the word itself is relegated to that dustbin of archaic phrases, destined to keep company with “dialing the phone,” “rolling down the window” and “pension”?

“Grandma!” my grandchild will one day exclaim. “Were you really alive when the news was printed on paper? Wasn’t that a waste of natural resources? Didn’t it bug you not to be able to link right away to what you really wanted to read?”

How will I explain the langorous pleasure of moseying from page to page? Or the rustling give and take my husband and I used to share as we traded sections with each other? I will befuddle my Gen-Net grandchild with tales of dashing out to the driveway to “get the paper” and how I used to cut out and mail articles that I thought would interest her mom, away at college.

This grandchild will never understand that the phrase “newspaper chains” not only referred to print media conglomerates but was the unsung metaphor for the way we readers once maintained links to our community.

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6 thoughts on “Paper Chase

  1. Cindy L

    Great post, Debra … I’m in process of writing about this too, right now. It’s just plain sad. There’s SO much free content (both good and bad) on the Internet, that readers aren’t bothering to renew their subscriptions anymore.

    Generation Jones — and older folks — will miss the scent and feel of newsprint and the luster of magazine pages … but the younger ones? Not so much. They cut their teeth on computer keyboards, and they don’t miss the feel of good reading material. Why purchase what they can get for free on their computers — and not even have to recycle?

    Sadly, I have many, many editor friends, newspaper staffers, and magazine journalists whose jobs are obsolete or in peril. Markets are shrinking for freelancers like us, too. Christian Science Monitor — one of my favorite markets — is going paperless in April of 2009. And on it goes.

  2. Only the Half of It

    I am torn. My first response is how sad it is to lose the hard copies but my eco-conscience says it’s a good move.
    That said, I do worry about those less technologically inclined losing their daily read. I wonder if the paper will gain the number of readers that they will for sure lose by going on line. Hard to say.
    I also wonder if they care about losing those readers. It all seems so dog-eat-dog in the world today. It’s all about the bottom line and who advertisers can reach. So many are marginalized for that reason.

  3. Barney

    Hi All…….Just heard about this TRAVESTY (albeit not a totally surprising one) from my partner. I’m 47, and most definitely a proud part of the “Generation Jones”…and LOVE with a PASSION my Detroit Free Press. I can only see thousands, if not TENS of thousands of people being left out in the literal cold with this move. Everyone does NOT yet have a pc, and as Only the Half of it wrote, I feel for them, and I MOST definitely don’t want to have to spend yet MORE time on the computer just to read the damn newspaper!!! Right now, I feel one whole HELLUVA’ lot older than my 47 years with this bad news….the world is changing TOO much and TOO fast. As Debra put it, she loves the actual physical paper itself, as I do. It’s literally a huge part of the foundation of our daily life, no less. And to lose any of it, EVEN if it is replaced with an “abbreviated” (BARF YUCK) version, which I’m positive will most likely be clearly inferior to me & all those like me, my beloved Free Press will have a Very Tough Time retaining my readership……SIGH….stop the world…..I wanna’ get off :-(((

  4. Cindy La Ferle

    Debra —
    I think I told you that I am a syndicated blogger on 50-something Moms, part of the Silicon Valley Moms group. I’ve written a very personal rant/blog post on this topic — newspapers in peril — which should appear on 50-somethings on Thursday this week. Here’s the link, in the meanwhile:
    I’ll also link to the post, when it appears, on my Facebook page.

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