By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT — Steve Eggleston wrote earlier this week on this blog about the fast approaching death of newsprint and reported on several media spin-off deals. It’s an interesting read.
The fall of the newspaper is sad to me. With it comes the fall of the old-fashioned journalist. The newspaper guy. The shoe-leather-journalist is the guy with the steno pad in his hand, or a note pad in his shirt pocket along with a couple of pens. He’s probably got a tape recorder in his other hand, or maybe an app downloaded on his phone that records. True journalism is a dying art.
Some, like Stacy McCain, continue to plug away at it and are willing to jump in the car and go wherever the story takes them. It’s a dying art.
With the fall of the newspaper we rely now on digital media for our news, for the most part. The internet has replaced the thick newspaper that used to lie at your curb every morning. Remember paper boys? They rode bikes with canvas bags over their handlebars; the bags were loaded down with newspapers they had picked up at a drop-off point somewhere. Eventually, as America spread out into suburbs, the paperboy on a bike was replace with a paperboy in a car. I was nearly decapitated one morning as our delivery guy whizzed my Sunday edition over the roof of his car with lethal accuracy.
I loved settling down to a real newspaper every morning with a cup of coffee, the ink smearing my fingertips black. I used to read three papers a day – I subscribed to our local paper, the USA Today, and The New York Times. That’s back when they were all worth reading. I’m dating myself.
A couple of weeks ago I bought my first local paper in probably three years. It was smaller than I remember – much smaller. It was thinner, too. In fact, I did a double take through the paper to be sure it was all there. Once I removed the grocery store circulars and the box store ads, there wasn’t much left to see. Even worse, the whole thing cost three times more than it did three years ago.
From a practical perspective, it makes perfect sense why the physical newspaper is fast becoming a relic from the past. In a world where news breaks on Twitter in 140-characters, where Drudge plays with our perception of the news, and where Facebook makes sharing stories instantaneous, how in the world could a lowly newspaper compete?
Be that as it may, I still miss the paper and ink.