After all the talk about the struggles of dead-tree newspapers to survive in this economic climate, even after seeing the Rocky Mountain News and Seattle P-I close down (or go online only with a tiny staff in the P-I's case), it still did feel quite real that major papers could just up and vanish. It was a new version of NIMBY but instead of "not in my backyard" it was was CHIMBY..."couldn't happen in my backyard." That feeling lasted only until this morning when the NY Times and the Boston Globe both reported that without significant concessions in the next 30 days, the Time Company would have to give serious thought to shutting down the venerable Globe. That was a bit of a shock.
However, even as I sit here fretting, I know that I'm part of the problem. We haven't received a daily paper for years. We canceled our Providence Journal subscription some time ago because so much of its content was recycled from the Times and other national papers. There are a few glossy magazines we still get -- Newsweek (but do we still need to?), the New Yorker (that one's hanging around), and my guilty pleasure, Entertainment Weekly (really, just for the movie news...). We still get the New York Times' Sunday edition but I suppose that might eventually go away, too. Of course, so much of the enjoyment of that paper is the tactile sense of thumbing through it on a Sunday morning, flipping to the Week in Review first and then moving to the front section, arts, sports, business, the magazine. It's a Sunday tradition of sorts but it might not last.
Instead I read the Times online, I visit Slate, Politico, the Boston Globe and Boston Herald sports sections for Red Sox news, RealClear Politics and RealClear Sports, Huffington Post, and more. My home page opens to Excite.com and the AP and NY Times newsfeeds. I enjoy my favorite comics online now and in color. I get my weekly podcasts of political news from NPR, the Times, the New Yorker, and Slate. The dead-tree news outlets are struggling in part because of me and people like me, who are turning to other faster, more dynamic mediums and not putting our eyeballs on the printed version and the ads that pay their bills. It's no wonder that even the Globe and the Times itself are struggling. If the Globe actually were to shut down, it would be a damn shame. And I'd read all about it on my computer screen.