I often get so caught up in my thoughts and problems that I forget there's a little person who watches most every move I make; when he's not busy destroying (or contemplating destroying) everything that gets in his way. My gut tells me most parents are like this, except for the crazy, over-achieving ones that somehow get on television with their kids who can read by 15 months, and exist only to make the rest of us feel like shitty parents.
Newspapers have been a part of my morning ritual since I've been able to read. I started with the comics section and slowly worked my way to the third page, where Mike Royko waited to explain the down and dank meat of journalism - straight from the Billy Goat Tavern. Royko eventually died and the comics page turned to crap. But, I still read newspapers because by then, they had become so ingrained with my awakening that I couldn't function without a morning load of information.
Twenty years after I picked up my first newspaper, I still begin my mornings with the front page tossed carelessly somewhere on the kitchen table, usually approximate to where I intend to collapse and graze. Instead of the Chicago Tribune, though, I have the Arizona Republic.
As I found out this afternoon, Hellspawn has picked up on my paper habit. The glasses, aren't my fault. I live with my parents, see, and they're old with old eyes and old eye needs.
In twenty-four years, when Hellspawn is as old as I am, I know that he won't begin his mornings with the paper, like I do. He'll have some kind of space-aged wizardy. Maybe he'll be able to beam the information directly into his head. Or, maybe he'll handle one of those advanced Kindles, sort of like what they use in Star Trek, The Next Generation.
I don't know if I feel sad for the gap in his morning routine. My thoughts on newspaper journlism is akin to Glenn Greenwald's. Journalists and their publications haven't really distinguished themselves these past twelve years and some times, I can't tell the difference between my morning news and the Drudge Report. Information on the internet comes much quicker, and with reputable, better sources. Since overhead tends to be less, I don't have to worry about whether or not the articles I've read were outsourced to India (no offense to any Indian readers. I just prefer local news to be sourced locally). And, I can choose blogs that suit my inherent liberal bias. Talking Points Memo and ProPublica saved my very pasty bacon this past election year. The Arizona Republic was all McCain, all the time.
I refuse to believe that the death of print journalism will be the end of quality journalism. People need information and will look for it online, from individual sites that suit their information needs. And, sites like Open Salon publish a thousand Roykos.
Still, even as I read news from my Blackberry, in addition to local news in the Republic, I can't help but feel nostalgic not for print journalism itself, but for the elements of print: the feel of the paper in my hands and the smell of it, organic and pulpy.
Especially fresh in from the morning rains and sprung from its plastic cocoon.
Whatever device we use in the future to get our information, I'm pretty sure that no parent would let their destructive toddler hold it. The newspaper, on the other hand, can stand up to some abuse.