Why I Still Subsribe to the Print Newspaper

Every morning as I’m heading out the door to work, I quickly grab a strange non-electronic information transmitter from my front driveway and carry it with me to the office. It’s my local newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman. Why do I insist on subscribing to the paper even though my husband thinks it’s a waste of money? Maybe it’s sentimental. I did get my degree in news/editorial journalism and one of my high school jobs was reporting on my school’s sports for the parish (as in county, if you live anywhere but Louisiana) newspaper.

I’ve been thinking about it more lately as I see Stowe Boyd declare that newspapers are dead already, but just don’t know it. I could jump in on that meme that some say Jeff Jarvis started. I’m a new media type person after all, so I could talk about all how the internet will kill the newspaper (yeah, like video killed the radio star).

But, then I see Ryan Sholin, who blogs about future of newspapers, online news and journalism education, talk about how he has historically used the print edition, and I begin to think that’s more of my take on the subject. This is my personal blog after all, so I’ll take the personal look at why I still like the newspaper:

The Sunday comics – I read the comics every day, but there’s nothing I like better than a quiet Sunday morning lying around in my PJs full of homemade blueberry pancakes reading the full-color version. Don’t get to do it nearly as much as I used to since my daughter talked me into teaching her Sunday School class, but it’s still nice to have them there.

The local news – while I get a lot of my national and international news from the internet and the newspaper is usually a day late with a lot of that, I always seem to know local things my husband doesn’t and it’s usually stuff I read in the paper. Like the fact the one of the roads near us in dire need of repair is on a list to get improved in 2009. Or, the review of the newest restaurant that we should check out on our next date night. Which leads to…

The food section – sure I surf the web for recipes and get a lot of inspiration from hours of Food Network (the only non-animated shows my daughter and I can agree on), but there’s something about anticipating that weekly special focus in the paper. Long ago I started pasting newspaper clipping recipes to create my own cookbook and while the book also contains recipes I got via e-mail, ripped out of magazines or printed from the web, it’s often those newspaper clippings I seem to go back to the most.

Local advertising – and into this category I’m lumping those ads for local festivals, the circus coming to town and the arts openings, as well as the cool furniture store’s twice-a-year sales. Sure most of that I could also get from the free weekly Austin Chronicle, but that’s still a paper vs. online.

So, I guess as I look at the things I like about the print newspaper, a lot of my attachment is sentimental and might not be shared by generations to come. But, I don’t think that means internet will kill the newspaper. Instead, I think I align more with Mark Glaser at MediShift who envisions a future tense for newspapers; and, with Kevin Maney at Conde Nast Portfolio.com that problems in today’s newspaper biz are about more than just the internet.

And, I’ll keep subscribing. Thus, doing my part to keep their business going until they figure out just how to fix those problems and move forward into a new phase for the Fourth Estate.

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One comment

  1. Mukund Mohan · June 2, 2008

    I think the commute is a great time to catch up on news. The problem the “newspapers are dead” camp is up in arms is that the trends point to less time and ubiquitous wireless access. You can get your local news and information on the web then you’d do it is their perspective.


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