williamallenpepper

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WHAT’S BLACK AND WHITE AND NOT READ ALL OVER

The Pew Research Center says newspaper circulation has dropped some twenty percent since 1990. No, really. It says so here.

Well, make that twenty-percent plus, uh, one percent or whatever fraction of one-percent equals one household.

My house is now officially off the grid. Well, we still have electricity. Running water. Heat. Internet. The BBC America channel because I gotta watch my Doctor Who.

BUT…

And this is big for me…

BUT…

…we cancelled our daily print newspaper subscription.

We held out for a long time. It just seemed wrong. We haven’t cancelled our landline phone service. We still pay a lot of bills OFF-line with envelopes and stamps and crap.

Giving up the daily paper, though, just seems wrong. I’ve always been a newspaper fan, even occasionally wrote for them. I like holding the paper in my hands, seeing the layout, flipping open to the funnies, spreading them out on table or living room floor and reading “Pearls Before Swine” with a cup of coffee.

BUT…

The decision to end our subscription was only partly financial. We pay twenty bucks per month for a daily local paper subscription we only ever actually read maybe a couple days a week. But it was also about the paper itself. Ever read your local paper these days? There’s a not a whole lot of news there anymore. “It’s hot outside” is a weather report, not an above-the-fold headline, unless maybe buildings are melting. A full page spread on the new restaurant in town is an ad, not news.

Yet, it’s those things that fill the paper these days, along with Associated Press articles I can read anywhere else.

And that’s the problem. There’s nothing in most local papers you can’t get off TV news or the Internet. As circulation drops, ad revenues decline and newspaper budgets tighten, papers inexplicably respond by cutting the one thing that people want from a newspaper: NEWS.

Yeah, today you can get news anywhere. Everywhere. It oozes in from all over the place, dripping down the walls. You can’t get away from news. It’s there, ready to inform you. Hell, news will make you sandwich and fluff your pillow at night if you want.

So, news is not hard to find. It wasn’t that hard of a decision to drop the local paper, though I do still feel bad. If I want “Pearls” or an obituary, or stats for the local high school football games, I can still get them online, of course, but giving up on the local paper still feels like a…loss somehow.

R.I.P., daily delivery.

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