by West Coast CraigÂ Â
“Print is dead” Â — Â Dr. Egon SpenglerÂ Â
He said that in 1984, and even the man who once tried to drill a hole in his head (and maintains that it would’ve worked if Venkman hadn’t stopped him), had no way of knowing how prophetic he was.
Okay, full disclosure here: I take my sports page into the bathroom every morning…there I said it. Â It’s so routine that I have an almost Pavlovian reaction when I flip through the sections of my Los Angeles Times, past the California and the Business, and pull out the Sports. Even if on most days I don’t read it past my morning ritual, I like the idea of the daily paper showing up on my doorstep each day before I get up. It’s not because I’m a particular fan of the local rag’s columnists like Simers and Plaschke—-there are no Jim Murrays anymore—-and in most cases I know all the scores before I got to bed the night before…and can see all the box scores instantly. You probably know that Tiger Woods won yesterday, and that the Cavs have stretched their win streak and lead for home court., who the Final Four is, before you looked at your paper today.
Still, don’t you like picking up the paper in the morning? I like the obvious tactile advantages of a newspaper, how easy it is to fold back to frame the piece you’re reading, the little local flavors, the fact that the sports section only takes 8-10 minutes to read through, perfect for TCB. Unfortunately, like all Newspapers these days, the Los Angeles Times is starting to show the strain of age…if not it’s age, then the age we live in. I’ve been a subscriber for a long time now, and I’ve seen a lot of ill-thought-out ideas, like little artists’ renderings of the columnists that made them look like they should have a posse. I’ve seen the ever steepening curve towards that ubiquitous USA Today look, with more graphs, squarer fonts, and a general dumbing down. The “around the league” scores have been reduced to thumbnail of each game, and without an NFL team we even get stories–in March–about USC’s coming quarterback battle. However, there’s been a recent development that seems to ring the death knell loudest. Lately the sports page has been a little thin and now, to add insult to injury, shares space with the Classifieds. That the venerable old paper carries Classifieds at all in the age of Craig’s List is hard to rationalize…and now they’re stuck with the sports. I know people in the newspaper industry, and I’ve heard the speculation about why its dying has to do with the classifieds and Craig’s List…but I have a hard time believing that the great big building downtown that says Los Angeles Times on it was paid for by one inch personal ads selling used bird cages and old refrigerators. Maybe it’s the fact that you get just about everything you want from the paper instantly on line, and for free (unless you like the New York Times‘s Crossword).However you look at it, though, the three-plus century history of newspapers may end not only in our lifetimes, but perhaps in the next decade. When it happens will we think of the newspaper like smoking in bars…didn’t think about it that much then, can’t say you miss it now?
Personally, in many some ways I welcome the big change, I like the way newspapers are laid out on-line—-they’re usually well organized, with headlines that are easy to read and sort through—-and I like that I ‘m not just beholden to the LA Times, I can read any paper in the country, can even go and read the paper I grew up with anytime I want. I’m sure we’ll all be reading them on our Kindles and iPhones before long (speaking of which, when’s the MTM iPhone app coming?), but this will definitely be one of those things we tell our grandkids about with a nostalgic things-were-better-in-my-day wistfulness…but they won’t hear us because they’ll have their VR helmets on, optically scanning and categorizing all relevant items and filing them in their mind folders. As for me, I’ll miss them…it’s just uncouth to wear a VR helmet on the crapper.