I ran past a man in his bathrobe this morning. He was strolling down his driveway to pick up the newspaper. Not an uncommon sight in my neighborhood, which is filled with retirees and empty nesters.
But picking up the morning paper in the driveway is about to go the way of horse drawn carriages, glass milk bottles and beehive hairdos if U.S. newspaper circulations continue their steady decline.
As the debate rages on about the rapid demise of the printed newspaper, I thought it was time to toss in my two cents. My position may surprise you: I think the printed newspaper in some form, is here to stay.
Why? I look to my 22-year old son, a digital native. His need for the sports section is equal to breathing oxygen upon rising in the morning. While he’s moved on to his own apartment now, whenever he visits, I can find him situated on the kitchen barstool, hovering over his beloved stats while slurping down his Wheaties. Heaven help me if I speak a word until all 6-10 pages have been consumed.
When I’ve asked him if he envisions a day when he would only get the stats delivered to his Smartphone or other digital device, he looks crestfallen. It would seem that for our son, just as it is for me and others around the world, the morning newspaper – the smell, feel, touch, idea of it – is a cherished ritual. For a very modest amount of money – what we toss in tolls or leave between the car seats – we get not only daily news, weather, sports, gossip and other important (and not so) information to stimulate our thinking, but also a dose of normalcy in our fast-paced lives.
My son and I agree that the need for such rituals is generation-neutral, so as long as he can read a printed newspaper and model that for his children, papers will endure, even if in a significantly condensed version.
Sure, it might be professional wishful thinking on my part. But without printed newspapers, we have nothing but countertops upon which to slurp our bowl of Wheaties, and can’t look silly to our neighbors as we stroll down the driveway in a bathrobe.