I’ve officially turned into the person my former newspaper colleagues dreaded: I get all my news from the web. I know. I had a subscription to my local newspaper for several years and I am not kidding when I say that I haven’t actually read any of the issues from my 3-times-a-week delivery since at least May or June. I would pick it up and toss it in my backseat on my way to work just to get it off the front lawn. Then I would promptly forget about them until they had completely filled the feet space and spilled onto the seat itself. At that point, I would grab them up in big armfuls and take them to the recycling bin. Maybe that was my first sign that I was officially done with the field and ready to move on to another. Or maybe it was more indicative of the fact that I had so little free time that I couldn’t justify spending it reading the news, especially when it was my job to read the news on a daily basis.
I kept the subscription after I quit for many reasons. I wanted the lifeline to my previous life. I enjoyed making fun of grammatical and spelling errors or poorly designed pages (and I still do). I had the pie-in-the-sky dream of saving tons of money with coupons (I didn’t have the time to read. What made me think I had time to clip coupons?!?). But yesterday I officially cancelled my subscription. It took 10 minutes, which was way more time than I wanted to spend on the task, especially since I had to spend it arguing with a rep about why I was cancelling it and, no, there was nothing she could do to change my mind. In the end, she asked, “Well, ma’am, where are you going to get your news if you don’t keep your subscription with us?” I gave her the answer they’ve probably heard hundreds of times: The Internet. And I wasn’t lying. I spend a great deal of time browsing my Google News page, which I have customized to my preferences, including which sources I would not like to read and the addition of categories highlighting Chelsea F.C., Newport News and library news. And my local paper never carried news about Chelsea anyway, so this works better for me, since I can get all my news in one place. Which is really the failing of the hyperlocal papers: When you only do local stuff, it gets annoying having to go to several sources to get all the news I find important.
So that ends my era of reading print newspapers. I still check out the local front pages while at work, mostly to appreciate good designs and make fun of poor designs. I now get all my news online and I don’t feel like I’m missing out, which kind of makes me feel guilty, especially since I know so many people whose livelihoods depend on people reading print newspapers. But like my profession, journalists have seen this coming and are working to stay relevant as the world changes around them. So, I guess I do still have something in common with my former colleagues.