Read All About It

28 01 2011

I have been a newspaper junkie ever since my grandfather instilled in me that value. That was…oh…about 47 years ago. He encouraged me to read The Chicago Tribune, scanning the headlines for news, weather and sports.

Newspapers played a pivotal role in my ancestors’ transition in the US. My great-grandparents had immigrated from near Danzig Germany (what is now Gdansk Poland) in the 1890s, and, knowing no English at the time, used the newspaper and a dictionary to acculturate and assimilate. So it is little wonder my grandfather held them in such high esteem.

In college, I edited our student newspaper. I took great pride in knowing how to not only write a news story, but also every step of the production process. Each issue of our weekly was a labor of love, always including at least one all-nighter to meet deadlines.

But newspapers are not held in such high esteem today. The odds are very good that, if you are under 30, you do not pick up a paper. Ever. My generation may very well be a dying breed.

But this may all change starting this week with the launch of The Daily, a new iPad-only paper produced by News Corp (think: Fox News). It comes hot on the heels of Ongo, a similar e-newspaper compiling bits and pieces of The New York Times, USA Today, Washiongton Post and others.

The Daily will sell for a mere 99 cents per week, while Ongo will carry a heftier $7/month price tag. Ongo also suffers in that all of its content is already available online at the respective newspaper sites. The only thing Ongo offers is a compilation service.

E-newspapers are not exactly new, because Amazon’s Kindle has had digital versions since its inception. But the Kindle version looks and feel just like the e-books with which it shares space and format: black print on gray-scale LCD. The iPad version will have a decidedly more colorful (and columnar, just like a tangible newspaper) look and feel.

And in the case of The Daily, for a buck a week, you can hardly go wrong.

I still subscribe to a daily newspaper. My daily ritual includes waiting for the deliver person to stuff it in the orange mailbox at the end of our lone driveway. To be honest, having to wait till 7am is starting to wear on me, because by then I have been up two hours. I would much rather be able to start my day with paper and coffee, and then get working. I have found myself wishing the Amarillo Globe-News had a true digital mobile version, not just a website with today’s stories (which I have often perused right after checking my Facebook).

While I can wax nostalgic about the feel of the newsprint, the smudged ink on my fingertips, and the ability to do boldly do my crosswords and Sudoku in ink, I would happily trade those for an iPad version. A version I could take with me, access while on travel (like today), as well as archive if I so desired.

Which is why I will take The Daily for a test ride starting this Wednesday. Old-school print newspapers had better wake up and smell my coffee, because the winds of change are not only blowing, they are howling and shaking the building.

You read it here first.

Dr “News To Me” Gerlich


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