There are places I remember all my life,
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain –Lennon/McCartney
The daily newspaper is a shell of its former self. If you hold the Star Tribune up to your ear you can almost hear the ocean. I have clearly not gotten smarter, but I can finish the morning paper before a cup of tea. A friend suggests that she is paying 50 cents a day for a hand delivered sudoku. The paper has become an advertisement for its website. The few stories I am interested in are teased in print but only available on-line which means going into the other room and wresting the computer from JoAnne. Invariably she is doing something important with megapixels that makes my curiosity about Alex Rodriguez and Kate Hudson’s relationship seem almost trivial.
Smart, literate, young people of my acquaintence look at me as if I still have a telephone landline (which I do) when I suggest subscribing to the paper. My generation is the boorish guest, finally herded to the front door but still in search of their keys and fiddling with their galoshes. There may only be 87 of us, but we want our newspaper (by cracky)!
I will miss the daily paper if it goes before I do. I am nostalgic for the days of a morning and evening newspaper with actual news in it. I even miss the printers ink that in my youth found its way up my elbows and face while I pored over the sports section. As a kid, I was a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies. The morning Philadelphia Inquirer went to press before the conclusion of night games played on the west coast. There would be a hint, “After three innings the Phiilies trailed the Dodgers 5-1.” It did not look good for the “Fightin‘ Phils”, but they did not lose until The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin arrived at 2:30 PM.
It was summer and no school and the wait was somehow enjoyable. If I finished my chores and walked Smokey (the first in a long line of insane boxers) perhaps the Phils would rally. In hindsight the Phillies were by far the worst team in the National league when I was growing up and they lost a lot, but I believe the wait helped me learn to delay gratification which came in handy when I got my first thirty year mortgage.
In those days, some news stories were slow to develop and filter down to us. If a celebrity had a satanic navel ring collection or was involved in a steamy affair with a notary public we were blissfully unaware. If there was a problem in Borneo or Tierra del Fuego eventually the local paper might pick it up it from the New York Times, or the AP, or UPI. As it turns out the “Fightin‘ Phils” fought mostly with each other. They were a racially polarized, hard drinking carousers. Fortunately the stories of my heroes heartlessly taunting Jackie Robinson did not become common knowledge until my illusions had been shattered in other places.
There was a not so benign paternalism at work in my youth and it is good that there is no returning. I do not want that country back. We are exposed to much more information in a seemingly instantaneous manner and that ought to render us not only better informed, but somehow smarter. Speaking only for myself, I find the drumbeat of a 24/7 newscycle more overwhelming than helpful. I have more “news” than I have places to put it. I am also troubled that a decent web design can almost mask quackery, and those prone to illogic and xenophobia seem to be able to access “information” that allows them to get crazier, faster. I am not sure this is progress.
Tom H. Cook would like to remind everone that the last day to wish someone a Happy New Year and men it is January 27th.