What’s Black & White and Smells Like Toast?

I’m certainly not the first to be concerned about the demise of the venerable newspaper. Most are struggling financially, and with the advent of the Internet, they are increasingly non-essential. Yet, there’s something just right about sitting down in the morning and slowly pouring through a newspaper along with a cup of coffee. It’s an opportunity to sync up with the world in a relaxing venue, to feel connected and informed. However, the hectic pace of weekdays makes this relaxing start all but impossible. Still, I look forward to it on the weekends. But if I’m honest, the experience has become more ritual than useful.

I subscribe to over 20 RSS feeds that pump an average of 350 articles a day at me by PC or cell phone. I listen to a couple of podcasts daily, and frequently have one of the 24 hour cable news channels or a news radio station droning in the background. By the time the newspaper arrives in the morning, it contains almost nothing I haven’t already heard or read. To make matters worse, the actual news and editorial content of the paper continues to shrink, meaning it’s mostly just ads now, and I ignore/recycle them without a second look.

I keep seriously considering canceling my subscription, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Yes, it’s mostly wasted money. Yes, the carbon footprint of making, printing, distributing, and recycling the paper is obscene. No, it doesn’t provide any unique information. Still, somehow it seems that unless I subscribe to and read the paper, I can’t really claim to be informed. And I also don’t want to be part of the reason the paper goes under. Yet I think that’s inevitable.

In my defense, I recognize the lunacy of my position. Although I’ve never really bought into the notion that as long as you’re worried about being nuts, you’re still sane. On the other hand, as I’m rapidly approaching 50 years old, my “wild hares” are subscribing to the newspaper and buying an occasional lottery ticket.

Somebody stop me…

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