Friday, March 28, 2008

Newspapering


My world revolves around newspapers. A newspaper is delivered to my home every day. Not a day passes where I'm not up on the news in my corner of Indiana. Then there's a fact that my job is at a newspaper, writing stories for a legal paper published every other week. My name appears multiple times in the finished product. And in writing stories, I'm always combing through local and national papers, scouring news and reading the works others have put together to see how that might apply to my world.
But here I sit at 4 a.m. realizing how I've forgotten what newspapers feel like.

In a digital age, every newspaper is online. Local, state, national. What's happening the former stomping grounds, from lake levels to a text-messaging mayoral scandal in Detroit and beloved sports teams I grew up rooting for. CNN. Blogs. Email. Can find court documents, watch video. All with the click of a mouse. Convienence. Sure. A rushed world where you can quickly filter what you want and don't want.
It's not the same. You lose out on the newspaper-reading experience, though arguably you may be reading and being more informed with online searches and tailored reading. But there's everything else, too...

That feeling of holding thin paper in your hands, seeing the black ink headlines and focusing your eyesight ever so slightly to adjust to the smaller font size. That crinkling sound as you flip the pages. Then there's that smell - some swear the smell of a newspaper makes them feel better, and I'm one of them. A fresh coffee smell is often nearby, so that's a great compliment, but it's more. The fresh paper smell, even just the wood-like aroma, brings back images of working in newsrooms actually producing the copy that would eventually go into the publication. Back in college, I worked writing, editing, designing and early on had the joy of fresh ink and hot wax as we glued down the pages for our creation. It became computer-oriented, but you still had the thrill of creating what would eventually turn into that gray paper everyone would be reading.

It's a whole experience. You can find what you're looking for, because you always know where to look. You can rely on it being in the same place. From the front doorstep or driveway spot at first to where you want to see the editorial, obituaries, or comics. It's all there. Not like the changing Web world, where everything is different within minutes or an hour.

Once, I pulled myself out of bed pre-dawn to saturate my news craving. Getting that first glimpse of the paper. Catching the early newscast at the same time. That cup of coffee. Mmm. It all paved my way for getting into the newspaper business, being a part of the creation of moments like that for others. Helped energize me to create my own paper as a marriage roposal, a way to tell the most important story of my life.

But the experience I once had with newspaper reading has been diminshed. Don't look at the local daily paper in print as much as I once did, glancing at it usually in the evenings since I'd already read it online earlier in the day. The ones that stack up on my desk at work are simply that - work. Sure, I thumb through a Sunday paper most weeks - though I have to go buy one as it's so inadequate we don't want to waste the money. Of course, that's also a time the dog and I go for a Sunday morning "Car Ride" by ourselves to grab a paper, crank the music, and just drive for a bit before coming home.

It's sad, really. For anyone. But especially a newsman. Here's to the hope some of that newspaper nostalgia can be reclaimed.

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