I changed my media consumption habits last week, edging slightly more into the digital age.

With a job, family and other interests, I don’t have the time or effort to make it to every government body every day to keep track of what’s going on.

So as a concerned citizen who tries to keep reasonably abreast of local happenings, I outsource my primary information gathering to professional journalists.

In recent years, I have steadfastly taken the two local newspapers in my driveway. At my workplace, there tend to be other paper publications around to peruse, as well.

Though each local paper has robust online offerings, I have preferred the tangible paper versions. The broadsheet in one’s hands, the daily news cycle and taking scissors to generate a literal news-clipping has been my satisfactory M.O. for some time.

I admit to being such a dinosaur with my Missourian. I take the “paper” paper and rarely use the innovative digital editions. I hope the practitioners in Lee Hills Hall aren’t too offended.

But the Columbia Daily Tribune increased its rates this spring, justified in a letter to subscribers as being for new premium content sections.

I didn’t find value in those add-ins, so — long story short — I took a deep breath (literally) and traded in my paper subscription for the digital-only edition.

It is too soon to reflect much on the changes in news consumption habits, but the e-paper edition is comforting. It looks like the full paper edition layout, and one simply zooms in on a particular story to read in full.

I am trying to get used to checking the digital device periodically, and my recycling bin isn’t filling up as much.

I did save a few bucks forgoing the Trib paper version, and as providence would have it, the Financial Times happened to e-mail me a special offer for a year’s subscription.

The Financial Times of London, by the way, is like a British Wall Street Journal, but oh so much more. Its iconic pink newsprint (as well as digital background) conveys world-class business reporting, along with engaged international news and commentary.

I was introduced to the Financial Times in a 300-level political science course as an MU undergrad, where a semester’s subscription was required reading material.

My digital subscription to the Financial Times graciously provides an archive of the now defunct “Slow Lane” column by Harry Eyres, who for years expressed every which way to stop and smell the proverbial roses.

Subscribing will be particularly valuable now as coverage of Brexit finally comes to fruition.

Nonetheless, we live in a time where news consumers are pulling their subscriptions to traditional media outlets, like the local newspaper.

Converting to online content seems to be a dual-edged sword: It reaches more readers, it is convenient and it saves some printing costs. But then, capturing revenue becomes an issue.

Still, we are fortunate to have two dailies in a community our size. The Missourian is a news laboratory for the MU School of Journalism. The reporters are largely students, overseen by professional editors.

This is part of the innovative “Missouri Method,” where MU journalism students get to practice their craft in real newsrooms, including NBC station KOMU and NPR affiliate KBIA.


About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

The Waters family owned the Columbia Daily Tribune for many decades before tough times led them to sell to conglomerate GateHouse Media in 2016. Recently, it was reported GateHouse is merging with fellow publishing giant Gannett.

This is nothing new in the world and similar to the wave of corporate media consolidations that bought up many of our local commercial radio stations in the last decade or so.

The switch to corporate ownership has been hard on many, but seasoned reporters like Rudi Keller keep churning out the daily newspaper.

I find both valuable. It would be pretty tacky for a Missourian columnist not to be a paying subscriber, and it is good to get the Tribune’s angles, too. Therefore, I am glad to stay on board as a paying patron; each is only about $100 per year — come on.

So digital is the way of the world, and I now partially yield to this trend. You still ought to pay for the news you consume and find value in, even if it’s not what you find to be exactly perfect.

Steve Spellman hosts “The Mid-Missouri Freedom Forum” at 5 p.m. every Tuesday on KOPN/89.5 FM.

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