I know I am not unique in academia when I claim that I met my husband when he came by to sell me textbooks. I understand that quite a few professors end up marrying book representatives, who arrive trying to sell them books and ended up making a larger commitment. I recall him telling me once in the time before we married that he could see the days when bound textbooks would become extinct, and that they would be replaced with CDs, as, in those days the internet was quite young, the alternative to a hard-bound book was a CD of that book. I thought of this recently when I searched for the newspapers on a recent morning, only to find one was missing.
One of the constants in my life, until the last few weeks, has been the ability to wake up in the morning and be able to read two newspapers that are delivered to our home. One is a more local paper, covering news from our county and one or two neighboring counties, as well as national news, while the other is a major newspaper from Cuyahoga County, the county in which Ursuline College and the city of Cleveland can be found. However, in the last few weeks, the newspaper from Cuyahoga County has ceased home delivery several days of the week. To replace home delivery, we receive a notice via email each day allowing us to link to the latest edition online. This newspaper, formerly one of the largest newspapers in Ohio, is known as The Plain Dealer.
I must admit that I am not sure I am happy about this alternative approach to supplying The Plain Dealer to its subscribers. On the days it does come, I find myself thinking that much of the information it contains can be found from other sources (and usually already has.) While I used to enjoy turning the paper pages of the newspaper as I eat breakfast, I do not take the same pleasure from looking it up online and pointing and clicking. I don’t sit at the breakfast table with a tablet or laptop computer,
so reading that paper is no longer a part of my morning routine. Further, I am left with the thought that information about my reading habits is being recorded through my on-line activity. I am reminded by the newspaper that I can still purchase a copy of the daily paper from vending machines located throughout the area, but obtaining the paper that way is much more expensive for me than having it delivered to my home used to be. In addition, almost all of the paper can be accessed via internet as
quickly as the next day.
I am left wondering if I will continue to subscribe to the paper at all, especially since I live in a county with another paper that is (for now) delivered to my house every day. I know that accessing a newspaper online is the way of the future, but I am left very disappointed in the way it is actually implemented. And so, I want to ask my readers (all of whom read at least some things – Inside Higher Ed - online); what has been your experience with newspapers that are only accessible online, and have you
remained subscribers to such papers?