Mourning the Loss of the Newspaper

This morning I read the Dallas Morning News at breakfast. I’m on the road traveling for business, and I have the luxury of someone else preparing my breakfast and coffee, so I have time to read the paper. I don’t subscribe to the newspaper anymore. Shhhhhhhh…..please don’t tell my Daddy. I’d be disowned. We are a newspaper family. And, the newspapers are in trouble.

This week, my hometown Commercial Appeal laid off several newsroom employees. I read that, and it really depressed me. I know from talking to my first husband that the newspaper industry is really suffering. At retirement age, he’s having to consider another career for the last couple of years of his working life. All he’s ever known is the newspaper business. It is truly sad not only for those losing jobs, but it is the passing of an era.

Daddy was the sports editor and columnist for the Morning Advocate and the State Times in Baton Rouge. He started there at the age of 18 while he was at LSU. He never got his degree because he ended up having to support a family, but he worked there all his life. He even continued to write a column for awhile after he retired. In those days, because EVERYONE read the newspaper, he was a celebrity. If I ever met anybody from the area, no matter where I was, they knew Daddy. It was an instant connection.

It’s a reality that internet news is taking over the delivery of the news. It’s faster. The days of having to wait until the next morning to get commentary on an event or get news is long past over. So, the newspapers have had to change their function. It’s old news by the time the paper gets to your doorstep. I subscribed to the newspaper all my life. I even subscribed to it for the last 5 years when I never read it. It sat in my driveway or went straight to the recycle bin because I got my news over the internet, and I didn’t want to read bad news at all. But, it was certainly a habit. Not subscribing to the newspaper would have been a slap in the face to Daddy.

It was a Sunday morning ritual for me, Momma and Daddy to sit around on Sundays, pass the newspaper around and do the crossword puzzles. I remember it clear as day, and I so looked forward to it. At that time, I was the only child old enough to appreciate coffee and the newspaper, and I so loved it. We didn’t talk much, but it was a bonding time. I can’t imagine us sitting around with our laptops, looking at different stories on the internet. At least with the paper, we were reading the same things. It was like eating a meal of “information” together.

When I was in college, my Dad contacted one of his Sports Information Director friends, Larry, and got me connected for a job as an assistant in that department. That job and a stringing (freelance writing) job for the Hammond Daily News got me through college. I covered local high school football games, taking pictures from the sidelines and writing late night stories. It was a different sort of job, but it was the one I knew. I grew up with it. It was familiar.

This morning, I read the newspaper, and I thought about what I was missing in reading the newspaper. There was a story in the Dallas Morning News Metro section about the Texas Rangers’ loss last night in their playoff season. Wow, that was an immediate connection point with my training class this morning. In fact, I connected with someone on the elevator. This young man got on wearing his Texas Rangers shirt. He said, “It’s a rough morning for us here.” I immediately knew what he was talking about. “Especially if you are a Rangers fan. I’m sorry,” I said. If I hadn’t read the paper, he would have had to explain the whole thing.

I also found out that Texas passed a new law requiring breeders to provide basic veterinary care for their pups. Unsavory breeders are “dumping” their purebred dogs on the side of the road close to shelters, and Texas has in inordinate amount of purebred dogs up for adoption right now. If you are looking, you might get a good deal. If I was reading the news on the internet, I would have missed these stories. There’s just something leisurely about perusing the newspaper that’s just not present in reading the news on the net. On the computer, I’m much more focused and usually know what I’m searching for.

One day I’ll blog about being in a newspaper family because it is a different lifestyle,  a different rhythm. But, for today, I mourn the loss of the newspaper as I once knew it. I’ll talk a bit about the Rangers game with training participants this morning. They’ll have their sad, sleepy faces on, and I’ll know exactly why. And, when I return home, I’ll subscribe to the Commercial Appeal.

5 thoughts on “Mourning the Loss of the Newspaper

  1. I shall be sharing this post on Facebook, my dear, because it absolutely captures how I feel about the newspaper. Some of my sweetest, dearest memories of Don are of sitting at the kitchen table, especially on Sunday morning, drinking coffee, reading and commenting on articles in the paper. BTW, he always separated the sections of the paper and read Sports first…:-)

    In the future I wonder what social scientists will say about how the demise of the newspaper affected our culture(s). Also, so many of the Internet stories are lifted in whole or part from a newspaper. How will that evolve as newspapers disappear?

  2. Jerry and I attended a charity event this week and ran into another legend from The Advocate – Smiley Anders. Jerry quickly made it known that I was the neice of the great sports writer Sam King. That fact never fails to impress people. My one small claim to fame – thanks to your Dad.

    • Oh, how cool. So glad others benefit, too! I’ll bet Smiley’s family feels the same way. What a Baton Rouge icon!

  3. It makes me sad, too. I remember when we first moved away from Baton Rouge, I was distressed because we would quite possibly no longer be able to receive The Advocate. Fortunately, I made a few phone calls, and though it took some persuasion, the delivery person agreed to add a few miles to his trip to make sure I got to read my daddy’s story every day. As I recall, we learned to read by reading the newspaper. I remember sitting on Daddy’s lap and reading The State Times to him, with him helping with pronunciations. Those are cherished memories for me.

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