I have a Blackberry, get countless e-mail newsletters, RSS feeds, Twitter posts, information aggregated in Google Reader and My Yahoo — needless to say, there are plenty of places where I can get my news. And one of the last places I turn for breaking news is The Boston Globe.
However, I remain a near 30-year subscriber for home delivery. Prior to that, I was the home delivery, spending 7th and 8th grade trudging up and down hilly streets in Somerville to deliver The Globe (and Herald and New York Times).
The prospect of not having a Globe, or any region losing its daily newspaper, saddens me. They’ve apparently worked out some of their problems for now, but it’s not like subscribership is going to spike anytime soon, or ever again.
Is it the tactile sensation of opening a newspaper and flipping pages? Getting newsprint on your fingertips? Simple muscle memory? I do think it’s some of that, coupled with my generation (mid-40s).
But the web doesn’t do it for me as a replacement for a newspaper. You can find exactly what you want online — search for it, tag it, rate it, save it, share it. Those are great virtues, but what are non-newspaper readers missing?
First of all, it’s reading the articles you are not looking for that make a paper worthwhile — the little surprises you may find in a lifestyle column, or the big revelations you may discover while reading a detailed current events analysis. And there’s the pictures, and flow, and ads and everything else you don’t get from a website.
It’s no surprise that the most popular “news” sites are Huffington Post or TMZ. There’s a drop in “weightiness” on the web. There are still great stories, but you won’t find them if you’re not looking for them.
A newspaper gives you luxuries. You can skim when you’re busy, immerse when you have, discover new writers and opinions.
And don’t forget the watchdog element. The Globe’s Spotlight team has brought to light critical issues that people need to hear about. If The Globe fails, so does this effort.
News media is changing all around us. TV news struggles to hit big numbers during sweeps, and builds hardly usable online sites to serve as companions to “extend” the news. In most cases, these sites fail.
Adaptation is the path the Globe, NECN, WBZ and more follow in an attempt to keep rapidly diminishing ad dollars and readers/viewers.
The true path is innovation, and there’s far too little of that in traditional media.
I look forward to a future where I can recline in an easy chair in my senior years and open the Globe, read it and still enjoy it. I know I need it. And I think our community needs it — for instilling regional pride, showing geographic identification, tackling tough societal issues and giving a home to good stories written well.