Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

Death Of An Era

I think my generation is the last one that grew up with -- and that still reads -- an actual daily newspaper, and I hope I don't die before the newspaper institution itself does.  Yesterday was the final publication of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  It was a sad day for me.  The paper was the oldest continuing business in Seattle until yesterday, tracing it's roots back to the Civil War.  When I moved to Seattle back in 1989 I started taking both the Seattle PI and the Seattle Times -- the Times was an afternoon paper back then.  I kept both of them even when the Times switched to mornings about five years ago.  Competition is good, and it was always great to read how the PI printed something and read the same event in the Times, only it was slightly different, in the way that two people can't describe the same thing exactly the same way. 

I grew up reading the newspaper -- hell I was in the paper when I was but a year or so old because it was somehow newsworthy that this kid could recite the alphabet and read at that age.  TV news wasn't all that good back then, and the daily paper is where we learned about the world.  When I was a kid in Salt Lake we took the Salt Lake Tribune -- which was the morning paper.  The city also had (and still has) the Deseret News, which then was the afternoon paper (and like Seattle, both are now morning papers.)  The Deseret News was also the MORMON paper -- owned by the LDS Church and it's editorial values and slant reflect that.  I don't know why we took the Trib back then -- maybe because it was the morning paper, maybe because it wasn't the Mormon paper -- I don't really know.  However, once my parents divorced, Mom started taking the Deseret News instead.  To this day, she takes great delight in hearing me moan and groan and roll my eyes when I read the Deseret News while visiting them - particularly the Letters To The Editor.

This morning as I walked up the steps to the Capitol, past the row of newspaper vending boxes, there was the Seattle PI box sitting empty.  It struck me how sad it is that this town is now a one-newspaper town.  Denver lost it's other newspaper a few weeks ago, and Tucson is about to lose it's.  I don't think Salt Lake will -- there is too much of a rivaly between the readership of the Tribune and the Deseret News, and the LDS Church will never close down their house organ.  But here in Seattle, we are down to the Seattle Times -- which is still a great paper, but it now stands alone with no one to challenge her, no one to drive her, no  one to push her.  I also wonder how long it will last in this day and age of blogs, and web sites.  Will I still be reading a paper, getting my fingers stained with ink when I'm 60?  For now though I stil have my morning ritual of a cup of coffee, a bowl of ceral, and a newspaper to read -- but I wonder for how long. 
I know I'm the last of a dying breed -- a person who reads a newspaper.  I know very few of my generation who stil subscribe to a newspaper -- and those friends who are younger than me, I know no one who does.  My nieces and nephews don't cut out articles to take to "news day" in school.  They don't read the comics, or the sports page, or the editorial cartoons.  They get their news from web sites and tv.  I'm not sure that's a good thing.  I'm going to save my last edition of the PI.  Maybe my nieces and nephews one day will ask their old Uncle Gary what it is, and why he gets a bit misty eyed when he shows it to them. 

The PI has said they are going to publish on line as a web paper now.  I can handle that.  All I ask is that they don't turn off that big blue neon globe that sits on top of their building, with the words "It's In The P-I" that circle the equator. 

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