Save the Papers!

Print publications, as you are surely aware, are in big trouble.  The other day Newsweek announced it will publish its last print edition in December.  In Detroit, the two major dailies cut home delivery to three days a week.  The Star-Tribune in Minneapolis filed for bankruptcy.  The Boston Globe trimmed its newsroom staff by 12%, and I’m not talking about the sideburns.

Boston Globe:  A little off the top, short back and sides.


The Globe’s Alex Beam, now on a leave of absence while he writes a book on the Mormon Church, was way ahead of the game, doing journalistic introspection on the subject back in 2009.  He was like William Shatner in the Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” the only passenger who could see the gremlin out on the wing of the plummeting plane.  (Full disclosure, as serious journo-heads like to indulge in: The mascot of my grade school basketball team was the Gremlins.)

“For God’s sake, take my complimentary bag of peanuts and go away!”


You, of course, sitting there in front of the computer, are part of the problem.  You’ve apparently decided that you’re tired of reading the same Globe story about tattooed professional women three times in the past eighteen months, in each case with fewer sources or statistics than before.  Funny, the female accountants, lawyers and MBAs I meet tend not to have “Oakridge Road, Wellesley MA 02481″ scrawled on their necks, a reminder of “where they came from” as one NBA player said of his return-address neck tat the other day. 

Instead, you get your news on-line, where you can always click on a highlighted link and watch two guys dropping candy into Diet Coke bottles when you get bored with the two-civic leader thumbsuckers that the Globe likes to run on its op-ed page.

I’ve been writing for newspapers and later magazines off and on–mostly off–since high school, when a cracked vertebra tragically brought my career as tight end-middle linebacker to a premature conclusion.  I wrote for free back then so to me, writing on the internet is like coming home for Christmas.

Three chairs, no waiting.

But I can’t imagine a world without print.  There are some places where you just can’t go–at least not yet–with a laptop.  This week I got a haircut and was trying to imagine what a normal colloquy with my barber would be like if newspapers and magazines ceased to exist:

BARBER:  Canna you tilta your heada justa little?

ME:  Sorry, I was doing a site search for “lacrosse” and “dreadlocks” and “Tom Ryan” and “Boston Blazers.”

Tom Ryan, Boston Blazers coach, in his Rastafarian days.


BARBER:  Why donta you justa reada the sportsa page or Sportsa Illustrateda?  Thatta way I don’ta get little hairs in your computer when I blow dry.

ME:  Enzo–print–it dies.

BARBER:  Oh–too bad.  You want gel on that?

But I for one am not going to stand idly by while a way of life comes to an end.  What follows is my guerilla plan to save print through hand-to-hand combat that you, dear reader, can you join in anytime you want.

Reagan:  “I’m from the U.S. Postal Service, and I’m here to help.”


Buy two copies, throw one away.  During the first Reagan administration humorist Roy Blount, Jr. suggested that we reduce the national debt by buying postage stamps and throwing them away.  Maybe, just maybe, if writers bought two copies of every newspaper or magazine they wanted and threw one away, we could save print.  Of course Blount’s plan didn’t work, but that was before there was the internet to spread the word.  If you wanted to read Blount back then you had to buy Esquire, or one of his books.  Not any more.  Now you just log on to the internet, type his name into your search engine and . . . never mind.

“I’m having trouble with the ‘Jumble’ today.  Is ‘groat’ a word?”

Pets.  Pets are one of the key demographics that publishers neglected when advertising revenues were strong and things didn’t look so grim.  Try lining your parakeet’s cage with a laptop, or house-breaking your Portugese Water Dog using a Kindle, Amazon’s wireless reading device–it’s a mess!  You’ll be begging the nice telemarketer for The New York Times for a two-week free home delivery trial the next time she calls.

“Get your own damn paper!”


Diminished civility.  Next time somebody at the soup ‘n salad place where you eat lunch asks if he can borrow your paper when you’re through with it, just say no.  As you make your way out of your commuter train in the morning, pick up the discarded papers that other riders have left behind and throw them away.

If somebody complains, tell them if they want to read for free they can buy a laptop, which is way more expensive.


4 thoughts on “Save the Papers!


    Abraham Lincoln hated work: for he was a lawyer and legal engineer. In fact, work is made for mules, and they turn their behinds to it when pulling plows. My uncle always worked to keep from laboring. There is as new union growing fast and; this organized syndicate has drummed up the union as the ( IWW ), I won’t work. Our youths today should look to the future in opposing working for jobs. Take a look at the United Nations Organizations: these characters,

    representatives, have never seen a shovel nor a broom, with just enough strength to push a pencil point, in order to draft a decree to make the world a better place to live in. The word work is never mentioned. The IWW supports the UN.

    Read more:

  2. Always good to have a few newspapers on hand to soak up motor oil…(oh, we all forced to be electric? No grease or oil drips????)
    Duh, need papers to start a fire (fireplace, campfire, house…..)
    Or to stuff in those shipping boxes ( hate those foam peanuts.)
    And newspaper is used by many pubic gardens (and my flowerbeds because I’m really lazy about weeding) under mulch – prevents weeds, and doesn’t sour dirt underneath and it biodegrades.(Do I need to start hoarding newspapers?)
    Besides…if newspapers disappear we’ll have to come up with a new answer for that old riddle: “what’s black and white and read all over”. (or maybe that’s dated anyway…)

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