I cannot remember a time when my family did not subscribe to a print newspaper. My parents took both the morning and evening papers in Wilmington, Delaware — where I grew up. I learned about work, responsibility, and earning money as a paper boy delivering the morning edition.
I went to college with the intention of becoming a journalist. I became one.
I went to graduate school with the idea of escaping journalism, but in the end I could not. I became a journalism professor.
Last week my wife and I stopped subscribing to the print edition of the Springfield News-Leader. We became digital subscribers.
Two things kicked us into this 21st century decision:
- Between delivery problems and theft, we just could not count on picking up the paper in front of our loft building each morning — especially annoying on Sunday given our additional subscription to The New York Times .
- It’s frustrating to open a morning paper (that you paid for) and realize you read everything the day before by following links on Facebook and Twitter.
That second reason is particularly interesting in terms of journalism. It raises questions about what the content of a print edition ought to be. If it merely reproduces what we read online, it seems to me a recipe for failure of the print product. We can certainly discuss that in terms of sustainability, i.e. perhaps print ought to be re-imagined as a medium problematic to the needs of a society that must begin managing resource limits.
We have a new Sunday morning routine now. We stroll to the Bistro Market to buy the Sunday papers — the only print we will have in the loft (and can be sure will make it to the loft).