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September 28, 2011

News that's Bruised

It may be a bit hypocritical to broadcast my love for the newspaper on a blog, but I checked the prices for newspaper announcements and they are more than a bit outside my budget (15 cents per word! How rich do they think I am?). The other obvious roadblock that detours me from detailing my love of the newspaper in the actual newspaper is the fact that editors only allow announcements for weddings and obituaries which makes one wonder, why is the newspaper so obsessed with the death of man? You'd think they would welcome something as happy as a 1,500 word ode to their product.

Chances are that you love the newspaper too, or at the very least, news in general. That is of course assuming that at one point you've used Facebook, kept up to date on a Twitter account, read an article, watched a news report, received an e-mail, or once said, "Did you hear about so-and-so?"

I don't usually speak in sweeping generalities, but I think it's safe to say we all love news. Every person that has ever been birthed. We like to hear it more than make it, and more than anything we like to spread it. For nothing is more satisfying than being the initial bearer of news. The phrase, "you heard it here first" has died off as of late (despite mine and Nathan's best efforts), but the proud sentiments that accompany the breaking of a story remain. Even the physical act of delivering the newspaper to a porch is universally enjoyed. Why else would anyone wake up earlier than the sun to go toss papers, never having a day off, all for the Little Caesars' price of $5.00 an hour?

Recognizing our non-stop lust for tidings (good or bad), it should be no surprise that the original conveyor of news -- the newspaper -- is considered one of the greatest inventions of all time (other candidates up for greatest invention of all time, in case you were wondering: the toaster, the automobile, and Uncharted 3-Drake's Deception). However, the monopoly that was once the sole deliver of a day's comings and goings has been broken up by a wave of new news bearers. That fact, along with a host of other blows has led to the death of various presses. Some even speculate as to whether the mighty New York Times can continue to print every day. It's a thought that strikes fear in the hearts of many, and reverses the old adage into a more appropriate message: No news, is good bad news.

A newspaper disciple at study

As one who loves the paper more than the humans who create it, I find it my responsibility to ensure that the newspaper never dies. I've tossed around various ideas on how make the product more appealing. Maybe perforating the main sections for easy tearing and use as toilet paper, or perhaps including scratch-and-win prizes like the McDonald's cups of old might increase sales. Renovating the distribution format might be a means of increasing profitability, as would possibly the lowering of costs associated with placing obituaries, weddings, and -- ahem -- notes of praise. 

For the purposes of this article we will not outline the entire process needed to complete one of these value-adding measures to the paper, but rather simply remind the reader of what they are missing out on when they turn to the digital form of the news.

The Christmas Present Effect: A subscriber to the newspaper enjoys a daily gift, hand-delivered to their home, which they can unwrap at a time of their choosing. The physical act of removing the rain protector or loosening the rubber band sparks memories in the mind of opening gifts on a revered holiday. Likewise the surprise of what awaits inside the paper mirrors the anticipation felt when unwrapping a conventional present. Who's going to be on the front cover? How hard will today's crossword be? Will Dr. Pepper be on sale this week? Such excitement is found only in the printed word.

Food Consumption Dilemma: My biggest problem with absorbing news from sources other than the paper, be it website, podcast, blog or tweet is that while consuming the info I can't consume food in the care-free manner I would like to. For example, can you eat a bowl of cereal while reading the morning news on your laptop? You can, so long as you don't mind Lucky Charms crumbs in your keyboard. Meanwhile the newspaper can sit flat on a surface, acting as a place mat for your fallen food while you consume chips and salsa in as Pearspanic a manner you please.

The Multi-Purpose Matrix: A newspaper is more than just a newspaper, even without being re-engineered to form a suitable toilet paper substitute. Fly swatter, fire starter, window cleaner, bird cage liner and science fair fodder all describe some of the many functions the paper can be used for. Gather enough of the material and you'll have means to make a Hall of Fame prank (I'm looking at you, Davis Wood), and let's not forget that the task of fetching the paper everyday is the only reason your dog has left to live. Don't take that from him.

Mr. Game and Watch: I have never seen a person do a crossword puzzle, or a Sudoku square, or any other newspaper sponsored game on their digital hardware. For that matter I have never read the comics online either. Additionally, receiving the paper every day allows you to play another game - How much can you recycle!?! You'll never out-recycle your Earth-day celebrating neighbors without a daily boost from the newspaper.

Commenting on Commentary: Perhaps the greatest of all newspaper-related benefits comes from the absence of inane reader comments. Read through any religious, political, or sports related article online and you're guaranteed to be greeted with bundles of insight from such renowned geniuses as BigRedBird and Whats4_dinner. As a brief reminder of what great info these contributors bring, here's a comment from one cpt.climps on the Deseret News following the BYU-Utah game: "My dead grandma has more balls than Jordan Wynn."

Whoops, that was something I posted. Please forget I mentioned this.

The Teacher Deception Benefit: You'll have to trust me and my five years of collegiate experience on this one. As a student who has taken many, many, many boring classes (I'm looking at you, Professor Sadler), I've turned to the paper as means of in-class entertainment many times over. Never once was I called out by a teacher for not paying attention. Why? Because teachers seem to think that the only students who are bored and not learning are those who are texting, Facebooking, or of course sleeping. For some reason educators believe that a student reading the paper in class is a scholar, a phenom capable of both analyzing box scores and financial statements at the same time.

Experts Only, Please: Here we come to the crux of the matter. Part of the assault on newspapers has come courtesy of a world in which everyone is an expert on the topic at hand. Personal websites, YouTube, Twitter and other electronic sources have made it so everyone thinks he or she can go and report news. It's absurd. CNN's iReporter allows anyone to go out and share "their story" with the world. I repeat, it's absurd. You want experts, you turn to the newspaper. I mean, really, who in their right mind would listen to the opinion of some inexperienced, journalist-wannabe whose blog has a mere 22 followers?

Count me out.


  1. I do enjoy reading the Statesman cover to cover three times a week. Gotta love those op-ed pieces.

  2. Once again, you provide a pleasing read. Though may I request your blog be delivered to me in paper form? The idea of eating Lucky Charms while reading sounds pleasant.

  3. As a former newspaper boy myself, I will tell you that it's not something you do for the money. No amount of money can top the feeling of delivering news. And yes I did have a framed photo of Paul Revere next to my basket of rubber bands.