Boy, did it stink. All that ink and paper, which would always shred at the edges. I remember sitting in the back seat of my dad’s car, rolling up the Hometown News, and rubber-banding them, and then tossing them in the front seat. We would cruise the neighborhood developments, him tossing the papers out the car window. We were canvassing, trying to pick up new subscribers. If it was raining, I had to fold and stuff the weekly newspaper into a plastic bag first. I also had to package up a quantity of 25 or so to drop off at each of the houses of our local paper boys or girls. Sometimes we dropped off stacks at a local convenience store. By the end of the day my hands would be black from the ink and my hair full of dust. I reeked of newsprint.
I “escaped” this chore when I went to art school, but I hadn’t escaped newsprint. My first year I was instructed to buy newsprint pads for life drawing class. I couldn’t believe that artists wanted to draw on the horrible stuff. But it was soon clear that the paper, and the drawings on them, were considered disposable by teachers and students alike.
That’s why I can’t get too choked up by the “death of newsprint.” I haven’t read a newspaper in its newsprint form in over a decade. As soon as the New York Times headlines went online, so did I. Apart from the sudoku craze of a year or so ago, there seems little reason for anyone to purchase a paper. They are annoying on public transportation. They are handy lining the litter box, I suppose.
Our country’s newspapers need a shock to their system. The quality of journalism has been tanking for years, but certainly reached it’s nadir with the so-called reporting, or more accurately, reprinting, of press releases from the last administration. If newspapers want to attract readers, online or elsewhere, then they better bring it up a notch. It’s time for a little integrity again and a lot of reporting, backed up by some good old-fashioned research. They all need to rent All the President’s Men or Deadline U.S.A. And a decent crossword or sudoku wouldn’t hurt, either.