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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

In Praise of Newsprint

Monday, November 17, 2008

Andrew Sullivan links today to a quote by Rupert Murdoch in which the global media tycoon assesses the prospects for the future of newspapers. The long-and-short of it is that newspapers are evolving to meet the demands of an information-hungry public, becoming less newspapers and more newsbrands. Assumed in this prognosis is the continued decline of actual subscriptions to actual newspapers. Nobody disputes this.

I've been subscribing to my local paper four days a week for almost two months now. It's the first time in years that I've paid for a paper. I justified the expense (which I incurred at the hands of a salesman in the grocery store) with a less-than-humble recognition that to be a subscriber to a major west coast daily confers upon one an inarguable aura of coolness. Still, my subscription to the paper is shaping up to be a very positive force on my life. I even mentioned to m'lady this morning that upgrading the subscription to every day might be worth it.

Here it is: the paper's website is set as my browser homepage, but I probably read one story for every 10 headlines I see there. With the printed version in my hand, it's much easier for me to begin to read a story with a headline I find less-than-captivating, then discover, two paragraphs in, that I'm hooked by a good story and end up reading the whole thing. When I arrive at the final sentence, I feel good: like I just learned something or flexed some otherwise atrophied muscle in my brain. I don't get that feeling from hypertext, even if I read the whole story.

Also, I can go back to a story in the paper that I passed over earlier. Maybe I was in a rush, or maybe I was just skimming to see what's in there, but I didn't read the story. I saw it, though, and now I remember it's there, and I'm gonna go find it and at least begin to read it. Online, that won't ever happen. If I skip the headline once, it's gone. I've clicked on something else or linked to another site, and I may never see that headline again. If I do see it again (say, the next time I open my browser) I'll hardly notice it.

Just saying, I like holding the paper in my hand. The little ritual of reading the paper is creeping its way into my routine, and, I must say, I quite like it.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 12:11 PM


Yes. Exactly.

I am, by all accounts, a cyberpunk, and I relish that designation. But when it comes to a daily newspaper in my hand, I'm so glad to know I'm not alone.
commented by Anonymous landon, 1:22 PM  

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