Tuesday, November 03, 2009

If Newspapers Died, Would You Care?

I know a lot of people who love newspapers. For some reason, they insist on maintaining a newspaper subscription. They like reading the paper.

Just like professional sports, I don't get it.

I hate newspapers. I don't read them. I don't subscribe to them. I take the booths they set up at trade shows offering "$50 in free gifts for trying the paper" as a sign of desperation. Any time I end up in a discussion with somebody trying to sell me a subscription, I usually tell them "No, thank you. I am not paying you to pile up a paper on my floor, which is what happened every time I've had a subscription."

Am I saying I hate journalism and journalists and the entire news profession? No, and please don't read that into what I'm writing here. I simply don't get the point to newspapers, and if newspapers went away, I would not miss them.

Newspapers are huge and cumbersome. I never got the point to the format. In order to read the paper, you have to spread it out farther than your arms, legs, and head were meant to go. Then you have to fold it back. For some reason, the fold never goes right, causing crinkling. You have to lay the darn thing down and FORCE the fold where you want it, then pick it back up to read it.

I also can't stand that format of stories continuing from one page to another section. I hate it when a story continues on through 3 different sections of a paper. "Oh, look, right here on the front page, an interesting story... oh, continued on page A34... Oh, now I have to go to D18 to follow it..."

Maybe I'm just spoiled by the Internet, but I don't even like magazines that do that. Just put the entire story in one place, editor. Don't make me flip around and try to remember where I left off in the first place. I don't understand where this came from, and why it persists to this day. I find it annoying.

I like things to be sequential. I like to pick up a magazine or newsletter and read it like a book. I start at page 1, and read through to the end. I went through a "Choose Your Own Adventure" phase for a while (about the time I was 8), and it was fun while it lasted, but I'd rather just read sequentially.

Another thing I don't like about newspapers is that I can usually tell when a journalist has run out of useful information to give but still has a word count to maintain. Of course, I can tell this on CNN.com or WorldNetDaily, so it's not exclusive to newspapers. Journalists should be able to just stop when all the useful info is given out, rather than just babbling on for paragraph after paragraph with nothing to say.

Also, newspapers are broken up into sections. Some are useful, and some are not. I'll NEVER, EVER, under ANY circumstance, read the Sports section, for instance. I just don't care about it. Why should I pay for it? Why waste the paper and energy to deliver it to me, considering that it is useless to me? I'm not sure about the other sections. If I were looking for a house, I'd probably benefit from that section, but right now it does me little good. The Society section doesn't help me much. Newspapers try to be everything to everybody and result in overkill, especially in an age when you can get what you need, no more, no less online at any given momemt.

So there, I said it. I don't like newspapers. I won't miss newspapers when they go. I also don't like sports. Maybe I'll make that my next post.

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