Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Finally Breaking Free of Newsprint

I have been a newspaper reader for many years. If I had it to do over again, I would have read the daily papers during my mission to Australia, even though it’s against mission rules—after all, what better way is there to understand local culture and concerns? After my mission, I went to college in Boston and got into the habit of reading the Boston Globe every day, as well as the Boston Phoenix most weeks. And since I’ve lived in Utah as an adult, I’ve always subscribed to the Salt Lake Tribune, which I trust more than the Church-owned Deseret News as a source of local news, especially news related to Mormonism—and that was true even when I put together the Ensign magazine's news section every month.

In recent times, however, I’ve been finding the printed newspaper more and more obnoxious and irrelevant, and I’ve secretly been wanting to cancel it. It’s a chore to retrieve it each morning from somewhere out on the lawn. It’s a chore to hold it up and turn the pages, and I find myself skimming faster and faster the older I get (usually while sitting on the john). Whereas with online news I can just sneak a peek at it here and there, with a newspaper you have to carve out a special reading time and place, which just doesn't fit into my life anymore. Plus, I’ve often read about particular news items online before I see them in the next morning’s paper. (My main online sources of news are the New York Times and the Deseret News because they both have good e-mail services that push daily headlines and breaking news right under my nose.)

So this past week I took the plunge and canceled the paper, and so far it’s been a relief. On this past Sunday, it felt really nice not to have to sort through the huge paper and set aside a half-hour to read through it. I’d much rather follow blogs and e-mails and websites on my iPhone and computers than handle an inky daily paper.

Don’t worry, I still love printed books and magazines, and I do have the decency to feel a little guilty about becoming a modern-day casualty of the electronic media. In fact, I feel bad about several traditional industries that the Internet has decimated, including the travel, music, and bookstore industries. I will still occasionally indulge myself in newspapers, especially when I visit foreign cities, because I love to get a flavor of local life through the papers. However, it feels great to be out from under the demands of keeping up with a daily newspaper! What took me so long to cancel it? (Oh, and it saves me $180 a year.)

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