The Most Truthful Part of a Newspaper

“The advertisement is the most truthful part of a newspaper.”  Thomas Jefferson.

Need more TJ to start your morning?  He also said: “I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.”

With all respect for President Jefferson–in most matters not relating to slavery, anyway–I must disagree, if not with the first statement, with the second. I love my newspaper. Not only is it great inspiration for characters and plots, as I’ve mentioned before, but I can measure myself against the people I read about. Sometimes for the better, sometimes much for the worse. I can also pick up fabulous tidbits to ponder.

It seemed fitting after the death Friday of Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today, to talk about newspapers.

When I moved to Florida I was worried I’d be faced with a paper so different from my beloved Washington Post that I would never pick it up.  To the contrary. I devour the Sarasota Herald-Tribune every morning, in truth much more consistently and thoroughly than I devoured the Post. Our new paper is smaller and more accessible, and if I ever feel the need for long articles that explore every facet of an international or national issue, I have the Post on the Internet.

Do you get your local paper? My children can’t imagine reading one, even when it’s right beside them. They get their news from the internet or the television. Have you, too, decided there’s nothing you would learn in the paper you couldn’t pick up elsewhere? Well, here’s what I learned from the Herald Tribune just this morning.

Business section:  Did you know that shoppers’ perceptions on taste, calorie intake and value are changed by a product’s label? Shoppers faced with identical products labeled two ways, organic or regular, believed that the organic version had fewer calories and were willing to pay up to nearly 24% more for them. Remember that next time you shop.

Front section: So you thought that sequestration wasn’t going to affect you? This is the first week that airline traffic controllers have been furloughed accordingly. 400 domestic flights were delayed yesterday on the first day. Summer is coming, and with it tourism. Work this out for yourself.

Local news:  A boat parked in a driveway near South Sarasota Bay had an adventure. Overnight, as its owner slept soundly, two men and a 16 year old boy, hitched it to a trailer and drove away, to be stopped by a vigilant deputy who’d seen a report of an earlier attempted trailer theft. One of the men had already been arrested six times for burglary, theft and related incidents. The other had (take a deep breath) “approximately 25 prior arrests in Florida and Nevada.” The boy was one or the other’s son. The boat was returned before the owners knew it was gone. The men are in jail. For a while.

Health and Fitness:  And while most people believe that the rising use of emergency rooms for routine medical problems is due to people who can’t or won’t afford insurance , the largest increase is actually from middle-class patients with insurance who can’t reach or see their own doctors when they need care.

So chew on all that.  And while you’re at it, chew on this. Revenue from newspaper ads declined nearly in half between 2003 and 2011, from 46.2 billion to 23.9 billion dollars. A 2012 study from the Pew Research Center discovered that on the day surveyed only 23% of people read a print newspaper, although 38% said they do read a newspaper occasionally. That fell from 54%.

I know I would miss sitting outdoors on a lounge chair or at my kitchen table reading my newspaper in print. Even the best digital versions don’t show entire pages of stories to peruse. I love skimming, folding the paper, coming back to it when I have time. What will you miss if your local paper disappears, as so many have? Will you still be as well informed about this crazy world we live in?

What would you miss, if anything? Let us know.


  1. Evelyn Ferguson on April 23, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I read the Tennessean everyday and the Gallatin Examiner three times a week. It is the first thing I do in the morning and would miss the variety of articles on local and national news. After reading the local papers, I go online and read the Mesabi Daily News, my hometown paper.

    • Emilie Richards on April 23, 2013 at 11:09 am

      Love reading my hometown paper whenever I can. Brings up really nice memories, doesn’t it?

  2. Dee Winter on April 23, 2013 at 11:15 am

    I read the paper EVERY DAY! If I’m not home, I buy the paper in the place I am, or a USA Today. I need the touch and smell and the opportunity to read it when I want. I hate seeing something on the internet, go back and it’s gone. So the piece I wanted to quote, get a figure from has become inaccessible. And I read the funnies, even though they dropped my favorite “Mutts” so I get that online. I’d be lost without my newspaper. I also get the paper from my county.

    • Emilie Richards on April 23, 2013 at 11:52 am

      I forgot about those local weeklies. We get two delivered for free, and I find lots of goodies I wouldn’t find elsewhere. They’re also great for taking the temperature of a community and finding out what people think.

  3. Nancy Badertscher on April 23, 2013 at 11:56 am

    My husband and I both read the AJC daily, and not just because his sister, who has my same name since she is not married, is one of the staff writers. Because we subscribe to the print version we can also get the digital version – they will start charging for it next month. Unfortunately, they don’t cover much of what happens where we live – we are in McDonough, about 35 miles from the center of ATL, but still in the Metro ATL area. There is a local paper for Henry County that I will check more often online, as a result of your posting, but I don’t think it covers enough local news that I am really interested in to warrant a subscription to the paper edition. I also still read my former local paper from VA (where we lived for about 24 years) since it has a digital version as well. I will have to admit that I sometimes get behind with the AJC, but I read it more thoroughly than my husband does. I am all the time reading this or that to him that he missed in his quick “reading” of the paper. I also get headlines and breaking news from the AJC online. Even with all that, I still want to read the paper on paper. And I think the younger generation is less interested in the print newspaper; I think only one of our 4 kids gets the newspaper and I don’t know how much they actually read it.

    • Emilie Richards on April 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      Nancy, you sound majorly well-informed. And statistically, our kids read the newspaper MUCH less often than we do. It’s not surprising, but I do think they miss the fun of it.

  4. Pat Pollock on April 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    I have found that newspapers (like TV news shows) are becoming much less journalistic and much more opinionated. I miss reading the facts. But the slant toward one political party or another has caused me to stop my print subscription. I am not as informed as I used to be, and I do miss it.

    • Emilie Richards on April 24, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      I don’t think they’re as bad as TV news–where you know what you’ll get when you tune in. But you’re right, the slant can be obvious in papers, too, and I’m sure it’s contributing to the polarization of opinion, something we definitely don’t need more of.

  5. SueAnn Beer on April 27, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    I would miss our paper…..if news in….. print dies…that would be a sad sign of the times….Our son grew up reading the paper with me…of course he was comics first for a long, he reads every day too..he is in Chicago…the print does show the temperature of the people…in the area, the state, the Nation…slant or no…you can learn from that and see it it does not convolute too much….the little weeklies too…tells what is going on in the small business, and larger stores….I would miss the information..the net does not provide all the info..nor does it possess the human touch..Newspapers are so much more than just a collection of words….they are a collection of else are we to know….about the people…..and, we are the people!!!

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