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.