Even the most resolutely stubborn baby boomer knows that newspapers in general, as a species, are facing troubled times and shaky futures.  Long gone is the paradigm of newspaper journalism as the preeminent way to get fresh news “hot off the presses.”   In fact, every gimmick under the sun has been used to boost real, tangible hard copy newspapers from extinction.  Grocery stores have even offered discount grocery shopping under the provision that one will sign up for a year of the Washington Post delivery.  Free lottery tickets are offered at other places along with a half or full years subscription.

As for me, I find myself only occasionally, selectively buying a newspaper in a public place when the urge to read about a new sports story strikes me or some local or weather information for my students.  The mornings of waking up blearily eyed, and stumbling outside in my bathrobe to get the morning paper on the driveway is long gone.

And when I do go to the Starbucks or 7-11 or a grocery store, I am always amazed and bewildered at the state of the newspaper.  For if you go on a Friday morning, you will be quite put out to notice that not only did Friday get swept aside, it was added in with Sunday to make a big fat enchilada of a newspaper that costs a whopping 3 dollars and 50 cents.

I suppose the marketing scheme work likes this: “why bother going one day at a time when you can combine everything in ONE humongous SUNDAY section for a whopping 3 dollars and 50 cents?

Surely when you carry that much mega Sunday paper home with you, you might be forgiven for feeling a bit power mad and giddy, thinking that armed with HIS much information and weekend THINGS TO DO options, you naturally have an edge in being well connected and capable of having the kind of weekend that will make your co-workers jealous and your face book hits HIGH!

The comical thing about all this, is that on the eve of your BIGGEST weekend yet, you might conceivably be greeted by up to 3 choices of newspapers for 3 different dates.  Take it from me.  I have witnessed this.

You might have a thinned down Friday paper on one rack, a thinner Saturday paper in another, and the aforementioned big kahuna Sunday spectacular.  And within those 3 options, you might find the attention to your big sports game—that you so badly crave, is either A) too late for this edition B) only has a photo and caption up till half-time or most maddeningly of all, C) is now too late on Sunday to bother being covered at all as there is NEW sports news.

One does feel a bit used at times to discover that the 3 dollar and 50 cent Sunday spectacular that they paid for, actually has reprinted articles from Friday and Saturday that are just carried over and hidden in the GLITZ of the catalogs and grocery flyers.

Of course dear reader, I am sure you know the cautionary tale of USA Today newspaper.  The Friday edition serves as the Saturday and Sunday one too.  How many times have I been burned at motels, thinking that I am about to get the latest updates on Saturday only to discover yet again, that the newspaper only has ONE issue for the weekend from Friday to Sunday!

And as the used, early afternoon newspapers at Starbucks attest, the value and relevancy of a newspaper truly has a very limited shelf life with diminishing returns coming any second!

What does this do to the space time continuum one might ask?  For now, instead of reading directly of last night’s sporting event in a streamlined fashion, with front page, style, metro neatly tucked in with sports, I practically need to hail a clerk down for extra help in carting out my gigantic, super deluxe Sunday edition paper.  Flyers and coupons threaten to spill out and become unruly.  Every classified under the sun is crammed in too, as well as superfluous amounts of travel and arts and entertainment features.

It kind of reminds me of the old TV show “Early Edition” in which a character named Gary Hobson has the heavy burden of privately getting tomorrow’s edition of the newspaper a day ahead of the world which means he has to frantically prioritize who to save before some horrific accident happens.  It also makes him a person of suspicion in the eyes of the police of course too!

And for the conspiracy folks, seeing newspapers for sale with TOMORROW’S date TODAY might actually confirm the suspicion that ALL the news is prearranged anyway.  Liberal and conservative columnists always approach their news scoop with their own agenda and spin.  Perhaps all the tragedies are choreographed so as to bring about bigger ratings?  Perhaps the newspaper editors are paying people off to start fires or precipitate terrible crimes?

Perhaps nothing is real or true once it becomes put down in newspaper print?

Ha ha—just kidding.  Let’s all calm down here.  I am just being silly of course.

Don’t ever get too jaded like that.  And remember–It’s just that we live in the information age where ONE THING is always making SOME OTHER THING outmoded and irrelevant.  It’s all symptomatic.

We should just feel grateful for all the TIME TRAVELING we can do nowadays.  We can have Tomorrow’s news TODAY and breaking news RIGHT NOW on our wrist watch.  We can RECORD yesterday’s show TONIGHT and watch it tomorrow!–Wait a minute I am getting confused.

At any rate we are queasily in the driver’s seat.  We can skip the experts and the editors and the ticker tape news print outs and decide what news is for ourselves.

We are like Early Edition’s GARY HOBSON except we aren’t expected to save anyone’s life!

It’s just a little hard to process on the nervous system is all right?  So we can be forgiven by asking our 7-11 clerk if we can LOITER for a few tasteful minutes as we delicately GUT and dissect the Friday, Saturday, and “War and Peace” sized Sunday paper in pursuit of the indulgently LONG sports article we crave that covers our team in loving detail.  Surely when they see sad looking guys around my age; they should realize it is vitally therapeutic for us to actually hold and touch real newspaper pages (and it sure beats learning new passwords on the computer any day!).

So we better NOT be rushed or told to move along.

After all, aren’t they desperate to sell newspapers anyway?  They should be paying us right?


About John Watts

I like to write transcendental community based essays and stories along with photo journalism pieces.
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