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Citizen Dave: Paper tale, or why I still love newspapers

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I'll match my environmentalist cred with anybody in the country, but I believe that a tree sacrificed for a good newspaper has died a noble death.

I have gone three weeks now without getting the Wisconsin State Journal delivered to my doorstep. That's the first time I've gone that long without the local morning paper (I still get the New York Times) in my entire adult life.

I didn't like it. I reordered the paper today.

I didn't miss the news itself because I read it online, but I missed the physical paper. It's interesting how consuming the news electronically is such a different experience than reading it on newsprint.

The online version of a newspaper is a cooler experience and I don't mean that it's more fashionable. I mean that I have a cool, almost detached reaction to reading news online. The blazing headlines, the pictures, the graphics and the placement of the stories make for an entirely different (and I would say better) experience on paper.

I also noticed that the headlines are different. They're snappier and have more punch in print. They're simply descriptive and dull on the net. The paper headlines make you want to read the story. The Internet headlines make you want to watch television.

There's some reason for this that I still don't fully understand. It even happens with this blog. I write headlines that I think are catchy and then Kristian changes them. It has something to do with search engines or whatever. So for example, the headline I wrote for this blog was "Paper tale." Paper tale. Paper trail. Get it? Well, I'm sure Kristian changed it to something else that actually works better for some inexplicable reason on the Internet. All my creativity is being drained away by the demands of the modern age.

There's no question that the Internet is more democratizing. Through placement in a paper, the editors are telling you their ideas about what's important. Something that makes page one is important. Page 3, Local, maybe not so much. There's much less of that online. Most everything is presented in a flat, read this or read that, kind of way. But, frankly, busy people could use professional editors to sift through the news for them. It's one reason I buy a paper in the first place.

And then there are online comments, which mercifully cannot appear in a physical newspaper. I'm convinced that all the online comments are written by five people with no job and a very bad case of hemorrhoids. If the story were "World Peace Breaks Out, Full Employment at Hand, Brewers Win World Series," the online comments would be something like:

Angrywhiteguy: "What's so great about peace? It's overrated."

Iluvtalkradio: "Yeah, I agree. And full employment means we all have to work? Who needs that shit?"

Angrywhiteguy: "And the Brewers won the Series? Well, great. It only took them, what, 41 years. And isn't it just like those losers that they took the Series on the day World Peace breaks out. Is anybody gonna be watching Sports Center tonight? I don't think so."

Iluvtalkradiio: "And I still hate Dave Cieslewicz because he likes bikes."

Angrywhiteguy: "Something we can all agree on."

Also, the paper is mobile. Ever try to read a laptop story while you're eating your breakfast? You have to move the cursor and your fingers are greasy from the toast and on and on like that.

Finally, there are birdcages, which cannot be served by laptop computers.

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