Friday, May 25, 2012
Now I Know How the Dinosaurs and Buggy Whip Makers Felt
Everyday life as we know it in New Orleans will cease to be come autumn.
The grand old lady of print journalism, The Times-Picayune, will beef up its digital alter-ego and reduce the number of days it publishes a print version from everyday to Wednesday-Friday-Sunday only. The move will leave New Orleans as the largest city in the USA without a daily newspaper.
The staff was blindsided, but that's another issue.
After carefully monitoring the outpouring of confusion, grief, anger, and disbelief on social media following the announcement yesterday, the powers-that-be at the paper ratcheted up the spin machine. Today's headline screams, "NEWSPAPER TO MOVE FOCUS TO DIGITAL." The first paragraph lauds the upgrades to be made to NOLA.com (which said upgrades I already dislike -- but then again, I'm not a big proponent of change): "As the digital world has evolved, so too will we."
Glossing over what the reading public will lose, it continues,"Beginning in the fall, the newspaper that so many of you rely upon will continue to publish on a reduced schedule of Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays." Thanks for throwing us a bone there, guys, by "continuing to publish."
Intellectually, I understand that the shift to digital service is inevitable -- heck, I do a lot of research and news-gathering online already. But, there's just something so physically satisfying about unfolding that newsprint, and popping it open, and having to wash my hands afterwards to get rid of the ink that rubbed off on my fingers. There's something so comfortable about digging through the yellowing recipes I've clipped over the years; the favorites not only yellowed, but also stained with splashes of their ingredients. I can already attest that the effect is not quite the same when perusing through recipes that I've sent through the printer on sterile white typing paper. (Is there such a thing as "typing paper" anymore?)
When we started having work done on the house that displaced the kitchen table, Bouie and I began to lunch on the front porch, and we both enjoyed it so much that we've continued the practice even after the kitchen is (mostly) put back together. I take my lunch, a Milk Bone for Bou, and the "Living" and "New Orleans" (that also contains the editorial pages) sections so I can read them at leisure while Bouie stands sentry duty. He keeps all those evil, marauding people pushing strollers or walking little yappy dogs at bay. It's just not the same holding the iPad. Even Bouie seems to sense how rapt I'll tend to be, depending on whether I'm holding flapping newsprint or a tablet computer (that doesn't always hold its Wi-Fi connection).
So, as the Young President "evolves," so too does print journalism, I suppose.
At least kids will still be able to sprawl on the floor to read the funny papers on Sunday morning.