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.