I can't remember the last time I did this.
No, not have three children. I mean read a regular newsprint newspaper with any kind of interest. Now that I think of it, forget "any kind of interest;" I can't remember the last time I read one at all.
It was not always so. If the newspaper was a bank account, I'd be retired and rich now. I can assure you that I have read more newspaper than any editor at the Boston Globe has, even though I stopped completely decades ago. I got an amazing head start.
My Father was a creature of the newspaper. He brought them all home from Boston every day. Boston used to have a lot of newspapers. I used to read the Globe, of course, but the Herald used to be several newspapers, and we read them all. I remember the Record American which was two different newspapers itself not long before that. There was something called the Herald Traveler, too. Some of these papers had more than one edition a day, too. Eventually it all got mashed together into what is now the Herald. And my father would bring the Catholic newspaper, The Pilot, home too. I'd read every last item in every one, do the crosswords, and generally wallow in it all until my hands were black. Books were still an expensive luxury then, and the library was a car ride away, so newsprint mattered.
When I got older, a young man, I used to read the Boston Globe, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal every day. I was considered sort of odd by my classmates in college for doing so. But I was already a man, and they were still children, even though we were more or less the same age. I was used to being different. I wasn't a kid anymore. I had held numerous jobs, been around some, and I wasn't any sort of tabula rasa. I started to notice something.
I noticed that there were two sorts of topics in the papers. They were topics I had first-hand knowledge of, and things of which I knew little. And I noticed that without fail, articles written about anything I had intimate knowledge about were absolute nonsense. And I began to notice the little word shifts and shimmies and angles that the authors and editors would use to grind whatever sort of ax they had. And I'm pretty dumb, of course, just like God made us all, but I figured out that it was unlikely that the newspaper was only getting the stuff I knew about wrong, on purpose. And by looking for the method of obfuscation I recognized in things I knew about, I could see what they were trying to fool me with in things I knew nothing about.
You can read the newspaper and find things out, still. But the process is like panning for gold. There's a lot of sand you've got to swish around to get the tiny, glittering pieces of information. And so I abandoned the papers with a heavy heart, because I loved them so. They were the nursemaids of Twain, and Mencken, and Bierce, and a multitude of others that I adore. The people working there now can't even spell, or figure out the difference between nouns and verbs. I wouldn't allow them anywhere near an adjective, even though if they could, they'd print only adjectives. Nouns and verbs lead to the reporting of facts. I think they'd get a rash if they tried it now.
The New York Times et al., like to tell people that the internet is killing their business. Please. I can't be the only one that noticed that the front page is the editorial section now, and the editorial page has the quality and usefulness of unhinged rants. I'm not really in the market for either. And I'm too young to read the obituaries.
I certainly do get my information in glittering pixels every day. But as usual, they're either fooling themselves, or trying to fool you. I buried you, Mr. Newspaper, in a shallow grave, a decade before I saw that magnificent arial text on that tiny little 486 intel computer over a modem. And I'm not interested in whether they're fooling themselves, or trying to fool me, trying to blame the internet.
Because I'm not interested. Period.