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DEAR READER: Best not dispute a good thing

Friday, January 10, 2014 | 5:49 p.m. CST; updated 1:42 p.m. CST, Monday, January 13, 2014

My son asked for a newspaper subscription for Christmas.

Me: A newspaper subscription?

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Him: “Yes.”

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.

Me: “Coupons?”

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.

Me: Great?

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.

“Yes!” 

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.


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Comments

Ellis Smith January 11, 2014 | 10:03 a.m.

It's also possible to receive serious literature (fiction and non-fiction) these days via electronic transmission (for example, Amazon's Kindle system) as well as games and other mindless amusements.

My point? Whch is more important, the mode of transmission OR WHAT IS TRANSMITTED? The question would seem to provide its own answer.

(Report Comment)
Michael Grinfeld January 11, 2014 | 4:32 p.m.

Cute story. Reporters work so hard and the delivery people can't seem to figure out how to wrap a newspaper in plastic so the writing doesn't get wet. Still gets to me, even after all these years of putting up with it.

(Report Comment)

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