By Errol Craig Sull
My hands have splotches of black ink … there is a crinkly sound breaking the early morning quiet .. my arms and fingers must stretch and bend and twist:
I could not be happier at that moment, as I just finished my morning ritual of reading a newspaper made of good ol’-fashioned paper! Reading each page, each section was a choreographed delight – every morning the same movements, the same sound, the same ink. And when it’s time to move on to the next stage of my day the encounter with my newspaper has left me satisfied, ignited, even joyful: it was a tangible reminder of life’s whole notes and life’s hemidemisemiquavers!
More often than not, folks are doing their news reading online – the bits and bytes inform, suggest, remind, implore, lighten, ask, infuriate our minds with a plethora of this and thats. Yet the words are flat; they are delivered as if dry cookies in a cold closet. Up the screen, down the screen; click here, click there; turn the device on, turn the device off. It’s a two-dimensional approach to bringing me the world when that paper newspaper with its paper cuts and dark tarnish on my fingers and making room on the table to read it and the mini-workout of turning pages and separating sections is so, oh, three dimensional.
It’s alive … it’s alive… it’s alive!
Sure – you’re going to hit me with the sound and movement of the videos that online papers offer; you’ll smugly tell me that paper versions of city, regional, state, and global tidbits can’t offer that. And I would agree with you. It is a joy to press a link and have dolphins swim, lawmakers speak, faraway incidents move in front of me, recipes come to their beautiful finales, athletes race to new records. Yes,
I give online newspapers their due – convenience and videos are certainly nice. Videos add a bit of moisture to those otherwise dry words, and immediacy can be welcome. But these two alone will never be enough to push aside the feel, the experience, the interaction with my wood pulp-birthed newspaper.
But there’s something about a newspaper that reflects its name – “paper” – that makes me want to dawdle, to take my time over breakfast, to slowly sip my coffee, to momentarily lose track of time. No matter what impact its contents has on my emotions, the time with my paper is relaxing, soothing, comforting. Yet read that same news on my computer or tablet or smartphone and I feel I must do it at a hurried pace; my food and drink seem to disappear faster; I don’t experience any calm, any “ahhhh.” I don’t like it, I don’t like it at all.
And there are secondary benefits to my newspaper. I can roll it up and swat a fly … I can take a scissors and cut out a helpful or especially intriguing article (beats having to highlight it, print it, then run to the printer to pick it up) … I can save it with a column of interest to pass along to another … I can wad it up for packing material, use it to toss out old coffee grounds, fold it up for a later read of an unfinished article, save a special edition focusing on a major news event. But news on an electronic device? Click it on, click it off – and the news and any other use are gone. Period.
I need to end now: it’s time for my hands to have their every-morning soap-and-water bath to wash away the ink: a lovely reminder that I just read my good-ol’ newspaper!
Errol Craig Sull likes the calm that a printed newspaper provides him.