Saturday, February 20, 2010

Reading The Paper

Do you read the newspaper anymore?

Does anyone?

It's a question I often ask myself. As a member of the print media for more than a decade, I have more than just a passing interest in the matter. I have many, many friends and acquaintances who are in or were part of the newspaper industry. It's actually quite sad to see the state of said industry, and sad to think that the future of newspapers is bleak.

At our house, we are loyal newspaper readers. Our local paper might not always have the types of investigative or thought-provoking stories the LATs or NYTs of the world have, but it's got plenty to keep us informed. Now, I do get a lot of my news online, as many others do. I have some e-mail alerts set up for some topics I enjoy plus I'm always checking my blackberry for different things, news updates one of them. Mrs. LB, though, prefers to get informed via the 'paper.

While it's a bit pricey sometimes, the newspaper is a fixture in our house and not just because my picture appears in there once a week.

As a newspaper reader, I like to peruse other newspapers. When I was in college, one of my favorite things to do was to get copies of the PE, the LA Times and the USA Today, and I'd read them all in between classes. Things have changed of course with the advent of blogs, news Web sites and the like.

While the newspaper industry isn't what it once was, the net can provide us some glimpses of things in various newspapers we couldn't see before.

This is one of my favorite Web sites. This site has the front pages of hundreds of newspapers across the country and the world. It's fun sometimes to peruse papers in other states and see what makes headlines. For instance, after Alabama won the college football championship earlier this season, I checked out the Alabama papers and saw how much coverage they gave the event (quite a bit of it). After Tennesssee college football coach Lane Kiffin quit and joined USC, the Tennessee papers had front-page coverage of the happenings. College football is a big deal in the South, and the papers reflect it.

It's also interesting to check out papers from around the world. I'm a big soccer fan, so whenever there is a big game I'll check out the papers from the respective country where the game took place and usually without fail it's on the front page. Sometimes I can't understand what is being written but it's still cool to check out the headlines.

It's also interesting to see what passes as societal norms in some countries. England's newspapers tend to have huge headlines, like SCANDAL BREAKS OUT IN PARLIAMENT or something, but in like a huge, huge type. Not sure how that reflects on the UK or whatever, but the papers look a bit tabloidish sometimes, more than the papers here (though New York papers can be like that). Also, German paper Bild usually publishes some sort of racy picture - typically a topless woman - on the front page. I think that might be a way to sell more papers here, to have a similar display on the front page. I kid, of course. I didn't realize Bild did that until I was scanning the German papers for something and then I was like "Whoa there, what's that?" I took German in college and can understand it a bit, so I like to check out the German papers because I can actually tell what's going on sometimes, unlike say papers in Russia or the Netherlands or the Middle East.

Sometimes it's depressing to see papers elsewhere. Sometimes there are some horrible headlines, like murder or some other mayhem, and that is usually a downer. But still, perusing papers from across the country and the world is always an interesting experience.

Usually the news is of course different in different places. What's front-page news in one county might not even make the A section in another. Sometimes I'll try to see if some big event in the US attracts interest overseas, but there was only one news story in the last eight or nine months or so that I saw made every single front page, and that was Michael Jackson's death. Some papers had their entire front page dedicated to that while others had just a picture and a few words. Most of the foreign papers had a picture or two or three and a story to go with.

Anyway, just some observations I felt like sharing. If you check out the site, you might not see a high number of papers today or Sunday, since some papers don't apparently publish on Saturday and/or Sunday.


Julie Schuler said...

I do still read the paper. Our little local paper. We live in a retired man's town, and many of our friends and neighbors are elderly. So I always scan the obituaries first.

ChristineM said...

We are still big newspaper people - my husband used to buy three newspapers a day, plus a couple of bi-weekly or monthly local publications, but now it's more like two a day - our regional paper and one of the Boston ones. My parents were big newspaper readers, and I just like the feeling of sitting at the table with a cup of coffee catching up on all the events. Sometimes there are stories I wish I hadn't seen - like the Georgia mother who forced her kid to bludgeon his pet hamster to death because he got bad grades? Yeah, I don't need to know there are losers like that in the world...but I still love newspapers.

Jephy's Mom said...

Although I do not have your passion for newspapers, I wouldn't like to see the industry disappear.

It would be interesting to compare headlines from around the world. I often compare television news coverage from Canada and the U.S. I like to see the differences in interpretation.

A few weeks back we learned that Canada might be getting an Al Jazeera English channel. I wonder if/how this new perspective will change our country's views on world events.

Lisa said...

Alas... I do not read the paper, nor have I for several years. I try. I get a subscription, have it delivered, and then end up having unopened papers in my recycle bin. At least I am still supporting the industry, right?

This post got me thinking. Maybe I'll actually read the paper that will be sitting in my driveway tomorrow morning. I think I am going to change it to the OC Register, though. The LA Times is just too big.

Kerrie T. said...

At my friend's birthday dinner two nights ago, five women (and T Junior) gathered around the table. We all became friends in the newsroom of the medium-sized local paper in King County (3rd behind the Seattle Times and the Seattle P-I). The King County Journal is gone now, of course, (as is the P-I), and I pointed out that the birthday girl is the ONLY remaining friend at the table still in news media -- she's the editor/writer for a Real Estate section produced in the advertising department (and in our wider/bigger group of "newspaper" friends, there are only a couple left in print at all).


But I don't get the paper. I'm holding a grudge -- the Seattle Times is part of the reason the little KCJ and the P-I no longer exist.

And, this may be blasphemy, but I'm not much of a news reader. I was a features editor, so I never was that interested in the top "news" headlines. I usually used to get all the info I needed about the top stories in our evening news meeting! I do miss that. And I miss having the wires at my fingertips. It's not the same as the Internet.

And I miss working in a newsroom.

Oh, one more thing. My husband is a news reader, but he does it all online. But he's a M'soft geeky geek, so that's to be expected.

Lisa said...

We take the paper but I'm seriously considering cancelling it or just taking the weekend subscription. I get all my news online and most of the stuff I read in the newspaper I've already read about online.

I do like having something to read while I eat breakfast and honestly that really the only reason I haven't cancelled.

Times have definitely changed.

Gracey said...

I don't read the paper. I used to buy the Sunday edition because it had a lot of cool magazines and add-ons inside, but I don't any more. I rarely watch the news too. I guess all my info on what's happening around the world comes from the net.

Willoughby said...

I read our local small town newspaper every week. As for the larger newspapers, I read them online. We used to have them delivered, but I got tired of them piling up. It just seems easier to read them online.