Last week, I received a letter in the mail from the San Antonio Express-News. The letter explained that their costs had risen considerably, and they would be raising subscription prices. Two days later, the daily newsrack price went up to $1, and the Sunday edition went up to $3.
By the end of last week, the Express-News had cut 30% of its staff in an effort to staunch the red ink that has become part and parcel of the daily newspaper industry. The San Angelo Standard-Times has also cut staff. The San Francisco Chronicle may be out of business by the end of March.
Around the nation, newspapers, especially the dailies, are falling away. They are businesses that have been around for a century or more. They've survived boom and bust. They've merged, acquired, been bought out, and hung on. Till now.
Much has been said about what has happened to the daily newspapers, and why we are losing them at such an alarming rate. Everyone points the finger at television and the internet, and loudly proclaims that this is where people get their news now rather than from a newspaper. Conjectures are made that daily newspapers run too slowly to keep up with the immediacy of the internet and television, and that's what our information-hungry society really wants... immediate news.
The dailies did not ignore the internet. In fact, most have embraced the internet, and offer their content online for readers who don't wish to wait for their news. But, as one reader told me on Sunday, "You just can't read a newspaper online."
Which brings me to my point. Reading is what has passed away, not the newspapers.
I consume the daily newspaper, front to back, every day that I can. I digest as much as I can, and I file it away mentally. Most people my age and older do the same.
But, those who came after don't read newspapers, daily or otherwise. And, contrary to what they may tell pollsters, they don't really read, or listen, or watch the news. They may watch Comedy Central, or listen to Rush Limbaugh, or even scan their own email; but, they do not seek out the full details that news stories contain, nor do they care if they are only getting one aspect or view of an issue, as long as it is one that does not upset their world view.
I fear that the "information age" has resulted in generations that have become too lazy to actually seek out more information. They are already texting, emailing, websurfing and Facebooking, so news is too much of a distraction from their lives to spend the time needed to process the additional information.
And yet, these are the folks that we look to for our future leaders. They are the parents raising our future generations. They are the military defending our shores. They are the teachers educating our children. And they've all stopped reading, claiming that television and the internet give them all that they need to know.
The mother of a friend down in Comfort goes through as many newspapers every day as she can manage to obtain. She's no longer as active as she once was, but she refuses to stop finding out about the world around her. She knows how important it is to keep herself aware of her world.
Someone please let the generations that are coming into prominence now know that they have abandoned something that they will never be able to recover. Once they give up the printed word, they become a nation of passive listeners, waiting for someone to tell them what to think, what to feel and what to do.
I'm keeping my subscription to my daily paper. I'll cut something else out of my budget to make it work, and I'll make sure they know I support them. And hopefully, I'll interest a younger person in doing the same.
It’s all just my opinion.