The Old Coot can’t live without the newspaper

The newspaper is under attack. It’s been going on for a long time. First, it was radio that took a crack, and then TV joined in the siege. The newsprint industry survived. 

Even so, a ton of daily and weekly papers went out of business, small town and big cities alike. The demise really began over 60 years ago, after the Kennedy assassination. It made our thirst for INSTANT news insatiable. 

The baton was passed to TV. Now it’s the Internet, teamed up with smart phones. If you’re part of the hip, with-it crowd and someone asks you what’s going on or what the weather is going to be, you don’t reach for the paper; you get the answer from your phone. 

Prognosticators say the end is near. The newspaper is finished. The days of in depth, investigative reporting is over. I hope not. TV network news organizations thrive on the “30-second” report. Cable channels concentrate on 24/7 coverage of sensational news, boring us to death as they focus on the minutia. Magazines, loaded with ads, get a quick skim and retire to doctors’ waiting rooms. Newspapers get the story behind the story better than any form of media, but most of that is national in nature. We’re lucky; we have newspaper coverage in our local area, but much of the country doesn’t.

How will it end? Nobody knows. But, even if you don’t read the paper for news, or use it to clip out sale coupons for “Oreos,” or don’t care about the critical role that newspapers play in a democracy; you still have a stake in the battle. Life without newspapers would be devastating. What would you wrap smelly fish in?

And, how would you get your windows to sparkle, or start a fire? Old coots like me thrived and prospered because of newspapers. Paper routes put a jingle in our pockets when we were kids. Newspapers were an essential element in our world: stuffed into the toes of our oversized, hand-me-down shoes and as temporary umbrellas when dashing through a downpour. 

Is there anything better than a snooze under a newspaper in a recliner chair or on a park bench on a sleepy summer afternoon? There is nothing that gives privacy like a newspaper draped over your head. How would we move without newspapers? What would we wrap the dishes in? How would we paper-train a puppy or line a birdcage? 

A paperless society would be a messy society. No more paper hats! No more paper sail boats, paper mâché figurines or blankets for the homeless on a cold night. 

I first wrote about this ten years ago, and things have only gotten worse. Now, we have another demise on our hands, plastic Bags are in the death throes. We have a bag of bags on hand in the kitchen and garage; most people have a similar stash. The bags come in real handy when you have a mess to clean up, need to store things, tote stuff around and a slew of other uses. No newspapers! No plastic bags! What’s the world coming to?

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The Old Coot can’t live without the newspaper"

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