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Monday, May 03, 2010

The Conversion of a Newspaper Fanatic

When I arrived in Evanston, Illinois on September 8, 1976, the first thing I purchased was a copy of the Chicago Tribune. That was how I got my bearings in the sprawling Chicago metropolis. I was a dedicated newspaper reader - grew up on three local papers in the San Franciso Bay Area, and I believed the Chicago Trib was a superior rag to any of the papers I read (although the San Franciso Chronicle came close at times). I tracked world events, followed the local news, read music reviews, enjoyed the columnists and kept up with sports via the Trib.

I am now done with the Chicago Tribune.

With its bankruptcy and the horrific changes made to save money and attract folks with limited attention spans, the Tribune is no longer worth the paper it is printed on. It makes USA Today look good. Local news is avaliable on-line and on the tube. The only reason to buy the Trib was to read the funnies - which have been cut, too. So after 30+ years, I have let my subscription expire.

Of course, the entire newspaper industry is in free-fall. Those of us who grew up non-digital are fading/dying, or converting to new media. The generations that follow us see newspapers as anachronisms. Advertisers are migrating, subscribers are bolting. The reporters are gradually finding different outlets. Some oldsters are wringing their hands and moaning about how our nation will be damaged by the fall of newspapers.


We are flooded with news and opinion, the news cycle has accelerated beyond belief and a few dead newspapers won't matter at all. Local sources of information are still doing OK (I get my free local paper on my porch once a week, and it is pretty good - oh, and local businesses advertise aggressively in its pages).

I am still subscribing to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal; this allows me to keep getting my fingers dirty every day. But I am thinking about going digital with these papers, too. My recycling bin will be lighter, as will my briefcase.