Many people don’t understand why I still read the daily newspaper. I get both Chicago papers delivered to my doorstep each morning and on some Sundays I even add The New York Times to my pile. People are often boggled by the fact that I pay for this service. (I’m sure they’d be appalled to learn I tip the delivery driver too!) The biggest argument I hear is, “You know Fred, all of this is free on this thing called the Internet.” Well, there are a few reasons I still read the physical newspaper, which I’ll share with you:
1. BREAK: I need a break from the electronic age. I am a huge fan of technology, like so many of us are, but I also know that my eyes, hands and brain need a break from the smartphone and tablet from time to time. I am as glued to my phone as many teenagers (a hypothesis proven when my teenage niece visited us this summer), but at least I realize I need to take a break every so often. Reading the paper is one activity that allows me to do it.
2. NOSTALGIA: For many years I was a paperboy for the San Jose Mercury News (the San Francisco Chronicle route in my neighborhood was locked up by one person, who drove a LeCar, for years). I got up every morning and slung papers at houses before the sun came up while blasting my Walkman and riding my cruiser with a huge metal basket on front. I would often check the MLB box scores during the baseball season before the first delivery. And since this was before the Internet, I could remember waking up to breaking news (US invades Grenada, Reagan wins reelection, Tigers win the World Series). Almost every house received the paper—now, most on my block do not.
3. GOOD NEWS: In a world of bad news filling up broadcasts and front pages of CNN.com, the newspaper is also filled with so many positive in-depth stories. I am a sucker for a good human interest story, a full page of gardening tips, or even commentary on why Chicago should get rid of red light cameras. In the past year I have read wonderful stories about the last remaining drive-in movie theaters, about what happens when guide dogs need to retire (what a tearjerker) and the resurgence of vinyl records. Without hesitation, the main obituary articles are always the first place I start so I can learn about the life of someone famous, or someone that made an impact in the community. I know, it sounds morbid, but it celebrates life in such a wonderful way. There are so many people with fascinating narratives to learn about whom never had Warhol-labeled “15 minutes of fame.”
4. MORE THAN A TWEET: Right now people want everything right now—and they often just want to know the headlines. Traffic on the Ike. Joan Rivers dies. Two shot in Humboldt Park. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high of 70 degrees. I understand that, but I often want more than just the headline or tweet. Sure, online news sources have longer articles, but many of them can be found in longer form in the printed paper. And if I want to read that much, I do not want to stare at a screen (see reason No. 1).
5. PHOTOS & ART: I enjoy the larger-than-life images on the big pages. I enjoy the art of photojournalism and political cartoons. On the printed pages there are breaks in stories, which are found as images or ads where they are not there to interrupt the reader. In short, with newspapers I do not have to deal with pop-ups and terrible flashing banner ads that are going to give me a stroke some day.
I am in no way against online news; I am hooked on it. I seem to check my phone for weather updates every 10 minutes, which really makes little sense, especially on a warm, sunny day. To me, the printed newspaper is about turning off technology and learning a little bit more about something that is not breaking news. Try it. You might enjoy it. (This can be especially pleasant during your next hurried trip on the L.)
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