Newspapers are a treat, not a tweet

It’s been a tough year for the newspaper industry in America. So tough that one major newspaper Newspaper has printed its own obituary (rest in peace, Rocky Mountain News), Humor Column another has ended its print edition (see you online, Seattle Post-Intelligencer) and a third is writing its last will and testament (you’re like family to me, San Francisco Chronicle).

Many other newspapers are taking drastic steps to prevent their demise, such as cutting their staff, publishing fewer times per week, and combining the “Sports” and “News” sections into a single section called “Spews.”

Yes, newspapers in America are in deep trouble. They’ve given President Obama so much love, but what does he do? He kisses the auto industry’s rear bumper.

I don’t know about you, but I really hope my local newspaper keeps arriving at my doorstep. My wife doesn’t like it when I take the computer into the bathroom. I don’t know why I bothered getting a computer desk with wheels.

Actually, I usually use a laptop, which is small and light, but still not bathroom-approved. Even if I used a Blackberry, it probably wouldn’t give me the same satisfaction as turning actual pages –- or sticking an editorial onto the toilet roll.

There’s something special about a newspaper that laptops or Blackberries or iPhones will never replace. When Obama won the presidency, millions of Americans saved the next day’s newspaper, realizing that it was a copy of history that their grandchildren or great-grandchildren would one day be able to auction off.

I like the printed newspaper, but I admittedly get most of my news online. I love being able to read the latest news just by turning my laptop on. I love being able to find out, at any minute of the day, what Michelle Obama is wearing.

While the “new media” give me most of my news, I also rely on the “old media,” not just the printed newspaper, but also television, radio and, to a lesser extent, smoke signals.

The smoke signals usually give me the most urgent news: something on the stove is burning. Either that or my wife doesn’t like my latest column.

If everyone was like me, perhaps the printed newspaper would survive, if not the entire paper, then at least the comics page. But the younger generation has taken to electronic media like Mike Tyson to chocolate doughnuts.

They get their news online and they get it for free. They use all sorts of electronic devices, not just iPhones and Blackberries, but also BlackPhones and iBerries. They keep informed through Yahoo!, Google and various social networking sites. They know how to Digg it, Tweet it and tell everyone that they’ve Reddit.

The younger generation has little use for the printed newspaper. I realized this when I handed a newspaper to a teen-ager and watched him turn the pages, look puzzled and ask, “How do I get to YouTube?”

While people like me are still trying to figure out Twitter, youngsters are sharing all sorts of news with their friends, sending out tweets like these:

—“I did it! I finally did it! I got rid of that pimple on my nose!”

—“This is the absolute worst day of my life. I can’t believe they voted Megan off AI!”

—“OMG! Did you see what Michelle Obama is wearing?”

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If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

Comments

  1. I have to be honest, I bought a newspaper on Sunday to look at the job
    listings. The same stuff and a lot more is listed on the newspaper website.
    I might as well get if for free on-line, instead of paying 75 cents and
    having to go out to get it. Bad me.

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