The Christian Science Monitor announced yesterday that it will abandon its daily print edition to offer daily coverage only online (Christian Science Monitor to exit daily print business). It is the first national newspaper to do so. This news comes a few days after the Boston Globe’s latest restyling, which simplified the layout and offloaded the fluff–entertainment, lifestyles, amusements, etc., all of which I read assiduously–to a daily magazine dubbed “g.” (“g?” I would understand “e” because the restyled Globe features four sections. Is it “g” as in “Gee, I wish more people bought the Globe?”, or “g” as in “the boston globe is now lower case and tomorrow will be even smaller?”)
Disappearing newspapers sadden me. My parents met while working at The Hartford Courant (“Older than the Nation, New as the News”). My father worked at the Courant for almost 50 years, save for his time in the Army Air Force in WWII. I learned to read from newspapers. My first job was delivering the Courant. I’ve subscribed to the Globe for my entire adult life and read it daily. Newspapers are in my DNA. Newspapers are symbols of community–there are Globe readers and there are Herald readers. Few people read both. Reading the Globe sports page–the best daily sports coverage in the U.S.–is an act of bonding, a celebration, a requiem. Newspapers represent competing voices in local and national conversations. Newspapers are pleasantly tactile, even if the ink stains one’s fingers. Newspapers start the fire in the hearth and house-train puppies.
Newspaper websites can be outstanding. I only read the Wall Street Journal online and the New York Times online every day but Sunday. Each uses the medium to take news delivery beyond the dimensions of print on paper, but try house-training a puppy with the your laptop and the NY Times website.
I understand the financial pressures that are driving newspapers into the electronic-only embrace, but we’re losing something in the process.