As I picked up my paper today, I reflected on the memories I have of my parents reading the paper. My dad would come home from work about 3 or 4, sit down and read the paper. He was the smartest man I knew, and I could ask him about any situation in the world. He would explain it to me. He read magazines, as well, with an avid interest in current events, science, and music. He had turned down a chance to go to college because he wouldn't accept "charity." It was the depression and there were no jobs to be found. Ultimately, he fought in the front lines of WWII and came home to raise a family. He opted for a truck-driving job with Dean's Milk that paid well and a home in the suburbs of Chicago.
Mom is 95 and reads the paper every day. She is equally smart, and able to point out things I may have missed because I work full-time and don't read the paper every day, except to skim. She does the crossword puzzle and reads the bridge column as well. She is another reader passionately interested in current events, music, medicine, and now, technology.
I subscribe to a paper and scan it in the morning if I have time. Sometimes the papers pile up for a week before I go through them and pull interesting articles. I have given up saving recipes (no time to cook) and reading in-depth analyses of situations. I save the articles, but get more information from public radio and TV news coverage. Still, the paper covers topics such as psychology, medicine, business, food, health, ecology and information about local places and events that would never enter my consciousness if I did not read the paper. I am a sudoku and crossword-puzzle addict as well.
I once talked to a man at the railroad station. I had always been unsure of which track the train would be on, and you have to cross the first set of tracks in our station to get to the others. He replied that the tracks had been built by a British engineer, so they are the opposite of our highway system. Tracks going into the city are on the left, coming out are on the right. I asked him how he had learned this and he replied, "I read the paper."
My children do not subscribe to newspapers. They are gifted individuals who have access to the Internet and are avid readers and learners. However, are they being exposed to the wide variety of information contained in a single newspaper? How is this going to change society? They are instantly in touch with each other and the world. They are producers of content as well as readers. But what will their world be like without papers? Without books? Or are these media just disintegrating and reorganizing into a metamorphosis that will be better able to inform the public? What will the public look like? Stay tuned for further adventures.