Why consuming news updates in print has added value during internet-heavy quarantine life
For the first time in my life, I am a print newspaper subscriber… I’m 36 years old. And when I confirmed my home delivery subscription to The Wall Street Journal earlier this month, it felt…so good.
This is unusual for a couple of reasons. First, I am a third-generation journalist. My grandparents worked in radio and my dad wrote for various newspapers and print publications for over 40 years, including for Time magazine, Forbes magazine, The New York Observer, New York Magazine and many others. I grew up in a house full of print newspapers and magazines, including many bookshelves filled with dozens of saved back issues as well as multiple framed magazine and newspaper cover stories written by my dad, Christopher Byron (he passed away in 2017, may he rest in peace).
Second, I have read thousands of print newspapers. In my twenties, I was reading four to five newspapers every day working on various assignment desks at CNN in New York, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, searching for stories that would make “good TV.”
Third, I love holding a newspaper. My earliest memories of holding and reading a newspaper were from when I was 18, riding the train from my parents’ house in Connecticut to New York City, commuting to my summer internship and reading the newspaper in the morning along with everyone else on Metro North in the tri-state area running the rat race to Wall Street. The black ink on my fingers felt like a badge of honor. Folding the pages smoothly, expertly, with some self-taught method and trying not to look awkward, felt like a rite of passage.
Maybe it was because journalism is in my blood — or maybe because it was a part of life of becoming an adult in the early 2000s. You read the newspaper every day, everyone did.
So what happened? Why didn’t I subscribe to a newspaper sooner? By the time I moved on from jobs that provided me with multiple newspapers to read every day as part of my work (I still have to pinch myself that I get paid to read the news, I love it that much) … online happened.
Over the years, I read more and more newspapers through their websites, and then skimmed more and more of their headlines on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and others. This behavior probably sounds familiar to many and so might this feeling — shame.
I have long felt ashamed for not subscribing to a print newspaper. Every excuse I have is bad. I could have afforded it long before now. I have lived at 10 different addresses in five different cities in 15 years, but I could have easily changed the delivery address each time. And fewer and fewer print newspapers were hanging around the newsrooms I was working in.
When I left the CNN New York bureau in 2007, there were at least six national and local newspapers delivered to the newsroom. Every newsgathering producer received copies of each on their desk every morning. From what I can recall, they included Newsday, The New York Times, The New York Post, The Daily News, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Sun. (The managing editor was the only one to get a copy of the Financial Times.)
When I came back to the New York bureau five years later, after stints in D.C. and Atlanta, I had risen to the title of producer and was excited to get my own personal stack of newspapers on my desk every morning. I was saddened to learn that the practice had stopped. We were all expected to read them online.
by Katy Byron, Poynter