I hate newspapers. I hate them. Perhaps I should have taken that into account before pursuing the profession of Journalism but I live my life by a fairly strange philosophy. I would love to tell you, dear reader, what that philosophy entails but I have not quite created it yet. Suffice it to say, I am a Journalism major that hates newspapers, the rarest breed of them all.
Do not get me wrong, I quite enjoy the content in the newspapers, it is just the presentation I can't wrap my head around. First of all, they are too massive. Anyone who has every tried to fold one of these monstrosities into a manageable reading size can certainly empathize with me. If I want to read an article on page 3 in the Arts & Life section about fireflies possibly going extinct (Don't fear for our bright insect friends, or my that article would be in Arts & Life I just made this tidbit up), I have to unfold the ENTIRE 3-6 sectioned paper, choose the section I need, open the page up to number three and then; while making sure that none of the other extraneous pages fall out, fold the paper on itself TWICE over to make sure I have the desired article showing and in a satisfactory size so I don't have to hold both my arms shoulder-length in front of my face for the duration of the article.
Who in their right mind wants to endure that every morning 365 days a year? Not only is the struggle to fold the paper grating but the material is hardly worthy of the content printed on it. I understand that the economical feasibility of producing a large amount of papers is rather limiting (as it is for all industries), but the actual paper used to publish a newspaper on is just gross: gross to the eye, gross to the nose, gross to the touch. If the type of paper newspapers were printed on did not have any type of journalistic content on it, I do not think anyone in their right mind would allow the grimy, recycled compost into their homes...much less place their coffee mug or breakfast plate on it.
Now, childish arguments and bizarre rants aside, I do have some good news to report. I believe I have stumbled upon a newspaper renaissance that may bring me back to the world of Daily Editions. You see, I hail from a suburb of a tiny backwards little town called Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland is home to nearly 500,000 good Ohioans and one, count 'em, one newspaper. Now as a college student, I spend my day in the bustling metropolis of Athens, Ohio which boasts a population upwards of 20,000 people (and probably two people for every farm). And because it is correspondingly huger than the small hick-town of Cleveland, with its professional sports franchises, art museums, county and state government buildings and entire ethnic communities, of course Athens is home to three newspapers.
I think I should say that again for emphasis:
Cleveland, Ohio=One newspaper.
Athens, Ohio=Three newspapers.
And that is only the beginning. Cleveland's The Plain Dealer is guilty of every aesthetic sin I described above. On any given weekday edition, the PD can feature at least four whole sections which act independently of each other creating a spatial headache for anyone who just wanted to know the score of last night's Indians game. It is just simply too much. I do not, however, have serious qualms with the newspaper's writers or any of the stories they generate...but then again, if there were a better way to present a story, or a different angle, or a more entertaining way of writing it, how would the reader know? The Plain Dealer is the only show in town and there is no one else to say differently.
In Athens, I have finally found three periodicals to work into my daily routine. The three papers in question: The Athens News, The Athens Messenger and The Post all offer different takes and different stories but oftentimes they (very entertainingly) offer different takes on the same story. The Post recently ran a small blurb in the middle of it's September 11th issue about the ongoing renovations and subsequent closure of a dining hall on campus. Near the end of the article, the reporter quietly quoting a worker from another dining hall saying that they have had a little bit more traffic during mealtimes, possibly as a result of a nearby hall being closed. On the other hand, The Athens News September 11th issue features an a giant photograph on the front page of confused Freshman packed into a crowded dining hall with expressions on their faces as if they were in a refugee camp and a headline that boldly states: "FALL QUARTER BRINGS PACKED DINING HALLS" and a smaller headline below it reading: "OU says situation should sort it self out".
Here I am, the responsible reader/citizen/student with two different view points and two takes on the same issue with the opportunity to make my own conclusions (I think I side with the Athens News on this one, by the way). Such an ingenious concept! It is almost like there is an open "marketplace of ideas". Hmm, maybe I should copyright that statement before someone else gets to it.
So where am I going with this? Truth be told, I have no idea. I can only say as a consumer, I know what type of market appeals to me. I prefer to have the option in print media to read different perspectives from a series of different organizations. I also like the presentation of the the small market papers. They are small, both in articles and length and they are free of all the extraneous sections in other papers (fear not, number nerds, they both have room for Sudoku).
As a future member of the media, however, I cannot come down too hard on The Plain Dealer. It is not The Plain Dealer's fault that it is the only rag in town. The newspaper business is suffering and the big city papers are being hit hard. Many urban areas only have access to one or two newspapers as it is.
But if in the future, the overlarge, bloated big city paper continues to struggle and a collection of small town periodicals continue to survive and even flourish, then I hope I can live to a ripe old age reading "Small-town Daily" and enjoying a nice hazelnut coffee downtown.