The decline of the print newspaper


I’ve always been in love with the written word, don’t even remember when I learned to read or who taught me. The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner this past weekend, according to AP’s Amiri Farnoush, “took a more solemn tone this year as President Joe Biden acknowledged the several America journalists under siege in authoritarian countries around the world.”

Apart from the issue of a free press is the concern I have of access to our regional and local newspapers in print. Back to my early childhood. I can still see my maternal grandmother, Viva Moore Adams, working the daily crossword puzzle in the “Louisville Courier Journal,” sitting at her oak table in her kitchen with a sharpened pencil in hand and a cup of hot tea to fortify her. She took obvious delight in putting letters into the little squares and had rules: no dictionary and no asking one of her four adult children to provide an answer to what I learned much later was a plethora of knowledge required to respond to the clues.

Let’s put aside for a minute the issue of conservation of natural resources by providing news in electronic formats as well as the American demands to have a moment-by-moment account pf what’s going on in the world.

I’ve always subscribed to regional newspaper as well as area ones as I’ve moved across the country from Kentucky/Ohio to California and back and still can hear a newsman on the streets of Toledo- where I attended high school and the university – yelling, “Blade! Blade!”

And I still subscribe, now to “The Dayton Daily” and “Miami Valley Today,” the former going to six print issues a week and the latter already at two per week.

I want and need both, and I don’t want to go to my computer or phone to access all the news. I want to be curled up in an easy chair or sitting in my yard or anywhere or at any time when I’m ready to learn what’s going on in the world or in my local community, holding that familiar print in my hands. Wonder if the Toledo Blade still has the peach section? Of course, I could research that.

I subscribe to news magazines and have recently become a big fan of “The Week.” I also watch television news and go to my computer when I’m impatient with a lack of info on a developing event. And when I suggested recently to one of my college students that I felt he could learn more about humanity writ large if he would read newspapers about the dilemmas in which human beings find themselves, I received a resounding “No” from him with an argument about how unreliable news sources are. No use in arguing with him about the responsibility that readers have,

Some arguments in addition to the ones I’ve already presented. At times our computers don’t work, so accessing these newspapers online can be iffy. Our population continues to age and not everyone has access to a computer because of the financial issues associated with that monthly bill we get or they just are not interested in developing any skills with technology. I’m fast with “hunting and pecking” because in my high school and college days, I had no intention of ever being a secretary. And I know, of course, that everyone still working must have at least basic computer skills.

I will ask you: Where can you get information about the Kiwanis pancake breakfast or the local high school play or even who died without having a local paper? Their staffs are now stretched thin as their budgets are cut , and editors find themselves taking on tasks that at one time were delegated. And without the contributions of these local papers to our communities with information and opinions, we become more and more isolated. Dangerous.

And we know with the regional papers, there are stories and features we might miss altogether on a computer screen, but when that paper is in print in our hands, we can educate ourselves in areas which we would have scrolled on by in an online version.

So how to deal with this dilemma? And feel free to shout at me, “Vivian, times are ranging with warp speed, and you need to quit whining and get on board.”

Subscribe to your print papers; share them with persons who can’t afford the prices; recycle them; embrace the good they bring to your life, including expanding your sense of this world that seems incredibly difficult to manage. And send an email of appreciation to an editor or a reporter if you know how to boot or reboot your computer or use your cell phone to send a text.

Vivian B. Blevins. Ph.D., teaches telecommunication employees from around the country and students at Edison State Community College and works with veterans. You may reach her at 937-778-3815 or [email protected].

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