Posted on April 2, 2019
by Steve Janowick

Under the cloud of an L & M and Marlboro Red haze.  The sizzle of some kind of fatty meat frying in a pool of Crisco on the stove.  Spoons clinging and clanging against porcelain mugs, stirring fake cream and Sweet & Low into instant coffee.  The fuzz of some old John Wayne movie in the background coming from the old black and white in the corner, the rabbit ears meticulously flagged in aluminum foil to get the best reception.  And four faces buried in The Baltimore Sun, each with a section, reading and gossiping, then trading for the next.

This was every weekend morning in my kitchen for the first couple decades of my existence on earth.

Reading the newspaper was a vital part of every adult’s life back in the day.  The newspaper was information. It was the go-to source for all the current events, all the world, national and local happenings.  And much more! If you wanted a job-you scoured the classifieds. Wanted to laugh a little? You read the comics (or the funnies). Needed to know the box score of yesterday’s game?  Boom, the sports section. Wanted to cover the bottom of your birdcage or provide a place for your dog to drop bombs? Spread out some old ones.

The newspaper was multi-functional.

And reading “the paper” was also a social endeavor.  It was relaxing. A part of a routine. Something to look forward to.  During the advent (and heights) of radio and television, the newspaper not only survived-it thrived.  It was for the discerning person, both young and old, who wanted a little depth. The dude wanted to dig a little deeper than the two-minute snippets provided by the polished personalities on the tube?

And all of that coincided with a time when the folks doing the reporting and writing at the paper actually cared about being objective.  When careful measures were taken to maintain their neutrality (or at least the perception of neutrality), to ensure unbiased coverage and trust and respect from their respective readerships.

When they cared about their reputations.

Like those standards, and the once venerable institution of journalism itself, the printed newspaper is slowly being phased out of existence completely.  Planning its own funeral for the inevitable demise at the hands of the technological overlords that have taken over the world.

The feel of the crispy paper in your hands.  The sound of the snap and fold. The smell of the ink.  The newspaper boxes on all the city street corners. The old man operating the bustling stand each work day and the young man who woke at the crack of dawn every Sunday to sling the latest edition on our porches.  All tangible stuff. All real. And all going…going…gone. Casualties of progress. Collateral damage in the movement forward. Taken over by “alternative” outlets read on six-inch screens. By posts and tweets.  By videos on YouTube.

A couple generations from now the beloved printed newspaper will be regarded as a relic.  A memento of a bygone era; looked upon in the same esteem as the combustion engine-an obsolete roadblock for advancement to some…

and a reminder of a simpler (and better) time to others.

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