The Detroit Free Press announced yesterday that it will begin limiting home delivery of its print edition to three days a week starting early next year. Apparently, there will still be some sort of printed newspaper available on the other four days as well, but it will only be sold in stores and racks.
I find this pretty alarming, but not really unexpected. Smaller newspapers have been making similar announcements and cutbacks for quite some time, but this is a major metropolitan daily, and I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last such announcement. We’ve all been hearing for decades about how newspapers were on the way out. Seems it may finally be happening. And that’s sad, not just because it means the end of an institution that has been such an important part of history, but because it also signals the end of a very effective, compact, and convenient means of preserving that history in the future. A complete newspaper from, say, 1942 or 1959, is perhaps the quintessential pop culture artifact of its day; nothing else is really comparable.
I’m pretty comfortable accessing most of my information digitally, but barring a digital display tool that approximates the size and feel–but more importantly, the foldability and browsability–of a newspaper, it’s never going to be quite the same for me once the printed version finally disappears.