DEBORAH SALOMON: Our Existence Just Wouldn't Be the Same Without Newspapers
The thunder-rumbling and sword-rattling concerning the imminent demise of newspapers has shaken my confidence in what used to be called the American Way of Life, before this way fell by the wayside.
Doesn't anybody understand that newspapers cannot be replaced by the Internet and TV, any more than apples can be replaced by oranges? Try peeling an orange for mom's All-American pie.
It's the knuckleheads sounding the knell. Listen up -- and learn why newspapers will endure.
When Barack Obama was elected president, everybody rushed out to buy a paper. The Charlotte Observer, New York Times, Boston Globe and all those other bellyachers sold out. First editions became instant collectors' items for all the right reasons. Did you see anybody printing out a Web page for posterity?
Trust me, nobody ever will. Didn't you tuck away the extra your hometown daily rushed to press on 9/11?
Without newspapers, people might assume that a busy New York airport was named for just another mayor. Not true! It was named after the newspaper delivery drivers' strike of 1945, when Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia (of forgotten welfare reform) read the funny papers on the radio for kids and their voting parents. I remember it well, as I do the "newspaper fold" required for reading a broadsheet on a crowded subway without elbowing a fellow passenger.
Without newspapers, I'd never trudge LaGuardia or any other airport looking for a Wall Street Journal somebody else paid for.
Furthermore, without the funny papers, Peanuts would be for eating at ball games, Beetle Bailey would be 4F and an overstuffed sandwich would be called a skyscraper, not a Dagwood.
And I would have no cheap gift-wrapping.
Without newspapers, children couldn't construct papier mache giraffes or housebreak puppies; seniors couldn't measure their failing eyesight against stock quotes and box scores, and CEOs would have nothing to carry into the executive men's room. I've moved twice in the past three years -- impossible without newspaper. Who hasn't been fascinated by old news, old prices wrapped around long-stored dishes?
Copier paper doesn't yellow and crinkle like the front page my mother saved on the day I was born, so I would know how terribly fared the world I had just entered. Down the road, besides photo albums I want to leave my grandsons a sense of being there, in my world, in my time.
Everybody complains about the ads. Why, a Best Buy circular is a veritable electronics course. Department store ads illustrate our commitment to diversity/political correctness. Print advertising identifies trends. What's cosmetic dentistry, Rip Van Winkle might ask, or microdermabrasion? Explain a hybrid, a thong, a hoodie.
Finally, without the Sunday paper I would lose a favorite pastime -- and it's not the crossword puzzle. What wicked fun to cut out and rematch brides to grooms, sometimes brides to brides or grooms to grooms.
I've made the case. Salon.com is here today, gone today. The Drudge Report makes lousy packing material. Katie Couric bombed. I can't get by Brian Williams' ties or Wolf Blitzer's lawnmowered beard.
Sure, from them and others you can get the news electronically. But, my friends, you cannot get the newspaper.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org
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