Curmudgeon's Corner, Philosophy

Curmudgeon’s Corner: I Miss Newspapers

Written by Sanford Begley

I miss newspapers. Yeah I know, they still exist. In fact it was seeing one the other day that brought this on. There was an article on the drought this summer comparing it with historical norms and detailing local conditions. That type of article is what I miss. Well that and hometown news.

I used to read the paper daily after work. I’d stop at my local diner and have a bite and a cup of coffee. I read it cover to cover and saved the comics for last. Then I would whip out my pen and do the puzzles. Now, reading the entire paper kept me abreast of pop culture, sports, and social notes. While I never really cared about football or which celebrity was hanging out with which it let me understand the things others talked about. This helped me with socializing with normal people, something I never was.

I never intentionally quit reading the paper, it just happened. For a while I was too busy with things, then I started getting more and more in depth news that was important to me from the internet. One day I looked around and all the newspaper vending machines were gone. So were the diners for that matter. I’m sorry I killed both of those things. Oh, I know that social changes changed them, people in general preferred chain restaurants and TV news. I still killed them, me and all the other people who quit doing what I had done. Some of the changes that occurred during my lifetime have been very good things, others, not so much.  

I wouldn’t become a regular reader of the paper again even if they were still readily available and diners came back. I have changed and can’t afford an hour a day devoted to the paper. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss them, just that they are no longer a part of my routine. For the most part I get better news from a variety of internet sources. I don’t get stuck with the single source slanting of the news either. When all your news comes either from the local paper or major news outlets, which all use the same sources and tend to be politically in agreement with each other, you get travesties of the truth like the adulation of a socialist candidate for president. Note: I’m not just talking about Bernie, there have been a lot of socialist candidates for president in the last quarter century, some of them have won.

I still miss the paper. Reading it the way I did, at the counter of a diner, I had a little island of peace with the ebb and flow of people surrounding me. I was also informed of the local events, I always knew of the festivals and which High School team was going to be league champs. I knew whether the summer was really unusually hot or if it was just me being uncomfortable due to my circumstances. Yeah, I could feel the pulse of the community that way, though I didn’t realize it at the time.

The biggest reason I miss the local paper is that the information flow is so big today that we can only sip at it, sort of like trying to drink from an eight inch fire hose, the paper was a garden hose.  So now I am aware of events unfolding in the south seas, and what the Swiss are doing about middle eastern immigration. I don’t have a clue how many burglaries happened in my neighborhood last month. Even if I wanted to know, finding that bit of information about a tiny town in an urban area would be difficult. The police blotter in every local paper used to keep you informed. Now? Who knows?

I miss the paper, I know I won’t go back to reading it though, life doesn’t allow that. I wonder if someone soon will come up with a way for us to get back to local news?