Friday, 14 November 2008

Local News

My parents have lived in the same house in the same town for more than 30 years. They have subscribed to our local newspaper during this entire time. You could say that they are loyal customers. But they are even more loyal Democrats. I think that they would only vote for a Republican if their children’s lives depended on it. Thus, they were beside themselves when their local paper, which has represented a progressive community for hundreds of years, endorsed John McCain.

I asked my mom whether they would cancel their subscription. She looked at me as though I had horns. Or worse, I had turned into a Republican. She said that they needed to know what was going on in their community. I tried to make an analogy: imagine the publisher of the newspaper pushing cigarettes on ten year olds but too no avail. They felt that strongly about staying connected to their community.

They also love the short paper format. The big city papers with their 30 plus page count are tough to get through in any reasonable amount of time in the morning. You have to get up at 5 am to get through everything. They truly appreciate the short, succinct and clear format.

In a world where we can access billions, if not trilllions of free stories, images and other multimedia on the internet in seconds, many people still find meaning in their local papers. And in simplicity. I am not a diehard supporter of the newspaper industry. I do think that it is a dying business. But humans need to be connected to those around them in a simple, essential way. They will find a way, even if it means sacrificing their political ideals.


Ben Maritz said...

I think I might actually be a die-hard supporter of the newspaper industry -- for exactly the reason you mention, connection to a community. Real print newspapers, which you an imagine being read by thousands of people just like you, somehow draw you into the news and the collective response in a way that other more virtual media outlets cannot.

I don't have a "local" paper because I don't really have a local community. I live outside the US and have no home for more than a month or two. I am one of those business men you see hanging about hotel breakfast buffets, sipping coffee, absent-mindedly picking at muffins, and... reading the International Herald Tribune. It's the "overseas edition of the New York Times", and I've recently noted is superior to its parent because it has the brevity you note is lacking in big-city dailies and carries with it what little magic of community my guild of road-warriors can summon.

Jenna said...

I also have to confess that I love the physical paper. The soft, crumpled feel of newsprint, especially after you have turned a few pages. The way you fold it so you can read a column or two at a time without taking up lots of space - a practice gleaned from riding the New York subway with the Wall Street commuters. I am glad that the Tribune can satisfy this need and provide a bit of community for you as you are halfway around the globe from home.