For the first time in 45-plus years, I’m not getting a printed newspaper delivered. I subscribed when I was in college, when I taught junior high school, when I worked construction, when I was UNEMPLOYED, and when I worked for a newspaper and could get it for free.
It’s an odd feeling not to walk outside in the dark and pick up the paper, to turn the pages as I drink coffee and be surprised by a story.
I write this as layoffs, furloughs, pay reductions and elimination of delivery days are slamming the industry. The good folks at CJR refer to it as “America’s local newspapers confront an apocalyse.”
Now, I haven’t abandoned journalism. I subscribe to four papers online because I’m a news junkie, I can afford it, and I believe that journalism is one of the few things that keeps democracy rolling along. And I put the journalism produced by newspaper writers at the top of the list.
I subscribed to the New York Times and the Washington Post beginning in 2017 because I needed complete coverage of what President Trump and weak-willed Congress was doing to my country.
I subscribe to the News & Observer because it covers state government and statewide issues well, and I want to support its watchdog role.
I subscribe to the News & Record because it is my local paper and, even short-staffed, keeps me in touch with my city.
And this doesn’t even count my financial contributions to the Daily Tar Heel, which helps turn many of my students into “real” journalists.
So, yes, I’m paying more for four digital papers than I would be for one home-delivered one. But I like to think I’m helping to support four staffs of journalists. Besides, I’m not paying for them. I have asked for the subscriptions as birthday and Christmas gifts, and I have a generous wife.