My son asked for a newspaper subscription for Christmas.
Me: A newspaper subscription?
Me: How come?
Him: “I want to read it."
Me: On your iPad?
Him: “No, I want to actually read it. You know, a Sunday paper that you can leave around for a few days and read it in pieces. You know what I mean?”
(Headline? Young dog learns old trick.)
Me: Yeah, I know what you mean. But young people don’t read newspapers anymore, do they?
Him: “I could find out what’s going on around town.
Him: “Let’s not get crazy, Dad. I don’t know.”
I ended the conversation. It’s always smart to end conversations when you find yourself taking stances you don't believe in. But I’m not always smart.
I’ve been a journalist for most of my career, have been teaching at the Missouri School of Journalism for a while now. I love newspapers. I should want to support journalists, who haven’t been living through the best of times in recent years. My son wanted to read a newspaper and, for some reason, I was asking him why. Not my smartest moment.
He lives in Raleigh, N.C. So I looked up the Raleigh News & Observer online and signed him up. He’s out of town a lot, so the Sunday subscription seemed to make the most sense. It seemed like less of a commitment, and I didn’t want to overwhelm him with newspapers piling up on his porch on a daily basis while he was gone.
When I told him, he seemed pleased.
“Great,” he said.
Him: “Yeah, that sounds cool.”
Me: Cool? You know, now that you have a subscription, you can sign up for a digital subscription for free on your iPad?
He seemed uninterested.
Him: “I just want to read it, Dad.”
I kept my mouth shut.
(Headline? Old dog learns new trick.)
His subscription was set to begin the Sunday after Christmas. That weekend, there had been a large storm on the East Coast, and my curiosity got the best of me.
I texted him: Did your paper get there?
“Yeah," he texted back. "But it was soaked.”
I waited another week.
“Did your paper get there?” I texted him again.
He sent a one-word reply, an emphatic reply, an exclamation point.
That’s all he said.
But he seemed happy.
I didn’t say anything.
But I was happy.
Greg Bowers is sports editor of the Columbia Missourian and an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism.