where the writers are

I MISS NEWSPAPERS!Posted on February 12, 2013 by Linda Lange

I miss newspapers. Not the piddly thing I read this morning—the one that didn’t last through breakfast—but newspapers like they used to be.

Recently, in search of Packers history, I unearthed some Green Bay Press-Gazettes from the ‘60s. I was amazed at how much thicker and wider they were than the Cincinnati Enquirer, my current hometown paper. The Enquirer keeps talking about going even smaller. The “new, easy-to-hold and easy-to-read size” sounds like an old-style tabloid, but supposedly isn’t. They keep pushing back the date when we’ll get it. Meanwhile, something about the retooling makes the printing take longer. The paper shows up in my driveway an hour later than it used to, which means some mornings I can’t read it before I leave. This is progress?

There was a romance to newspapers when I was a child. I’d wait impatiently for the neighbor boy to drop the P-G on the stoop. Then I’d bring it in and—hands too small to hold it comfortably—would spread it out on the sofa, with the right-hand page on the cushions and the left-hand page running up the back. Although I mostly read the “funnies” and school news then, I related to the urgency of the newsroom, the clacking of the presses I’d seen in movies. I dreamed of becoming a “spunky girl reporter” like Lois Lane or Brenda Starr.

I was features editor, then news editor of my high school newspaper. The type fonts we used were the same ones utilized by The New York Times. How cool was that?

When my husband and I were newly married, it seemed incredibly glamorous to score a copy of the Sunday Times—especially if we were actually visiting New York—and luxuriate in bed with its profusion of sections. The entertainment section was best. We’d read about the latest films and Broadway shows. We’d search the Al Hirschfeld caricatures for the hidden name of his daughter, Nina. Everything we read seemed more important because it was in the Times.

I’ve saved newspapers from Packers championships, the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, and Pete Rose’s 4192nd base hit. Perusing them, I relive those events in context, reveling in the ads and sidebars. Those papers are time capsules. The crumbling, yellowing pages add drama to the words.

Today, the Enquirer and Press-Gazette are both owned by Gannett, which means they read very much the same, and the same as USA Today. Some of that hometown vibe is gone. I read the Enquirer daily and occasionally the P-G online. They both keep urging me to buy their online editions. I get it. Digital transmission is economical. It saves labor, time, fuel, trees. But  t’s not the same. I still love the smell of newsprint. There’s something about spreading that printed page out on my kitchen table to start a Sunday morning … I mean, how can you have this experience with a tablet or laptop?          

And as a cat owner, I have another consideration. How can you do this?

  You know, since the paper’s shrinking, it takes eight sections instead of six?

I miss my big, old newspaper!