Divorcing the Daily Paper

Mariane Matera writes for the HooK, here is her latest.

After 37 years of subscribing to the daily newspaper, I wrote “cancel” on the last bill and sent it back.

One reason I let my subscription lapse is the fee, which seems out of proportion these days to how much of the paper I actually look at. To compensate for the rising cost of everything, I had to make a budget cut somewhere. I didn’t want to give up cable. I need to keep HBO until The Sopranos ends. I didn’t want to give up XM radio because I fall asleep to Alan Colmes on Fox Talk, amazed and comforted that there is actually a smart, funny, liberal talk radio host still alive in America. So the thing I spent the least time with, the newspaper, had to go.

I have no time to read in the morning anyway. I have to get to work. I have to load the dishwasher, feed the cats, get the bills together to mail. The Today Show can chatter away in the background while I’m running around and let me know if there’s a terrorist attack before I get on the interstate.

For the majority of my years as a subscriber, I received the now-defunct afternoon paper, which at least had some news in it that had happened that day. I had all evening to read it during commercials (remember the old days when you couldn’t fast-forward through the commercials?)

TV tells me everything has changed, and if I need more details, I can log on to CNN or Google News Search.

The free weeklies are usually nothing but local news, and they’re free. They do a better job of targeting a niche audience. Dailies have to cater to too many demographics and end up giving too little to any of them. Those of us who think American Idol is front page news are never going to live in harmony with those who think diplomatic relations and political upheavals need to be covered in daily detail.

What my daily did do to keep abreast was go to the Internet, where they can update their stories between editions, and even run blogs of breaking news as it happens. That’s good, but I’m still not going to renew the subscription. The non-newspaper local bloggers are still ahead of the curve, offering the quirkier details and investigative depth. The newspaper-employed bloggers are hamstrung by advertising executives, marketing departments, and stodgy editors.

Now that has changed. Anyone can get a blog, and just about every freelance writer in town who used to compete with me for jobs is now self-publishing. Some have become award-winning investigative journalists all on their own, with no advertising departments or timid executive editors to tie their hands. And I can read their work for free.

My long romance with newspapers is creaking to a 21st-century conclusion. It’s just more recycling to me these days. Even the Sunday paper is too much information for a day when, despite it being Sunday, I don’t have time. We’ve worked 50-hour weeks, and the weekend is the only time to catch up on housecleaning, laundry, and all the shows we taped on the DVR or the latest Netflix movie delivered right to our door. Tabloids and magazines are easier to deal with in the bathroom or to carry in my purse at lunchtime.

Newspapers were my passion for so long, that like the lovers in Brokeback Mountain, I didn’t know how to quit them. But the romance is over now. It’s time for a divorce.