There was a time in life when the daily newspaper was so important. In a bygone era it reported the happenings of the recent past, and promoted current and future events. Newspapers were inhaled, savored and the news was shared with everyone in the family. Newspapers were saved, or at least stories and pictures if nothing more. I remember that you could wrap frozen stuff in newspaper, put it on ice, and supposedly it would stay frozen longer. All the more reason to have plenty of newspaper around. I learned from someone (my mind draws a blank) that the best way to clean glass (auto or home) was with Windex and Newspaper… Something about the style of paper and the ink. Of course, the bottom of the bird cage always welcomes the paper. I always want to make sure it’s arranged properly so that the the bird can read the latest news.
When living in the Houston area some 30 years ago, we were blessed with two mainstream newspapers. I subscribed to both. One came in the morning and the other came in the afternoon. As early as 4:30, the paper would be on the driveway – being that I’m a very early morning person, this has set the stage for my paper desire. The Houston Post and the Houston Chronicle. Personally, the Post was my favorite. Not being a huge followers of sports, this section was good for auto and outdoor advertisements – always a favorite place to turn to. Another reason for both papers were the comics – there were some in each that I really enjoyed following. Eventually the both switched to the morning format and I chose the Post over the Chronicle. Then the Post went belly-up and the Chronicle became the only mainstream newspaper in Houston.
When living in Anchorage, Alaska, we too enjoyed two mainstream newspapers – The Anchorage Times and The Anchorage Daily News. When we first moved there I subscribed to both to determine which one I would keep. My kids were pictured in the papers several times while playing at the Valley of the Moon park, or walking the downtown streets in a parade.
I determined that having two newspapers in one city generally meant each had a niche, maybe one would be considered liberal and the other would be conservative – or – one would focus on statewide events and the other focused on local events. My memory is faint conscerning the differences between the papers in Anchorage and Houston, but the thing that really drew me to one over the other – the aesthetics and style of the paper, and which one was easier to read. If a paper is like the Wall Street Journal, then I am unlikely to choose it. If it comes across like a textbook then I reject it – it comes across like work and school. Even as I complete an advanced degree I have determined this is my personal view of textbooks also – give me one that is pleasing to the eye and makes me want to move my eyes down and through the pages.
Today, I live in Washington State, near the tricity area of Lacey (where I pastor), Olympia (state capital/capitol – I always get these two words confused) and Tumwater. The daily paper here is called The Olympian. Over the past 7 years I have tried to keep The Olympian in business by giving it my support. Repeatedly, the paper gains a new carrier and the paper starts showing up later and later. If it’s not here by 6am, then I don’t have time to read it. When it comes by 7-7:30, then many times I’m gone from the house and it’s a beacon to thieves that no one is at home. So, I quit the paper and have struggled with out to replace this Daily News habit with something else. I’ve communicated several times with the Editor and really there is nothing they can do to speed up delivery in the rural area.
My other paper choice is like the one I grew up with in Channelview, The Sentinel – owned and operated by the Benson Printing Company. When in High School, I worked for the paper – cleaning the offices, emptying trash, becoming good friends with the manager – Jim Stokes, and the mother/son team that represented the owners. The print press room was fascinating – large, noisy, smelling of ink and paper, and an enjoyable place to be as the presses were running. The room where they laid out each page of the paper was fun – mostly women worked here who were good at typing, writing, cutting and pasting. Then the other interesting room was where they took the pages from the layout room, made images of them on metal plates to send to the printing press. It was always dark because of the developing process of making the images. I even wrote some articles for the paper about the Channelview Falcons – seeing that I was a photographer at school and was going to many of the games.
So, my present day local paper is The Nisqually Valley News. Like The Sentinel, it is a weekly paper, and even comes out on the same day – Wednesday. Being that I’m still a little rural from the city it is published in, Yelm, I get it mailed to me and it arrives on Friday – so I read it every Saturday morning. For about 25.00 I get a 2 year subscription of all the local news and events that are important to the local residents. It covers an area larger than Channelview – Bucoda, Tenino, Rainier, Yelm, McKenna and Roy. It recaps last weeks events and tells me what’s happening in the next two weeks.
I read it cover to cover in about 30-45 minutes.
This constitutes my Daily News, a habit that was two newspapers, twice a day – down to a single paper in the morning, and now once a week – this is such a different habit than I started in my teenage years.
So many things have changed. I have Breaking News from a Seattle news conglomerate to tell me when something important happens in the region. The Olympian and The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) sends me daily digest emails with their important features, and with a click I can go straight to their web report of the story. All the national and world news sites are reporting on the web and with my phone, laptop or desktop, I can find out what’s happening.There is a lot of news missing from my prior habit – the personal stories, pictures and school events.
So, I am saddened by the disappearance of the habit of my youth. Seldom do I have ink stained fingers from pouring over the paper. When I do pick up a Sunday paper (so I can get the circulars), it is a disappointing experience because of the smaller size they have become. When I travel I enjoy the hotel giving me a USA Today or a local paper while I drink my morning coffee.
My cousin sent me an email this morning that showed a lot of pictures of historical places and sites in and around the Houston area. Some I recognized and immediately reminisced about, others had already moved off the scene and I remember nothing about them.
I wonder… Will someday someone send around a similar email (or whatever will replace email) around and one of the holographic images will be of a newspaper and the next generation will say, “O, yeah, I seem to remember my gramps reading one of those!”