Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The trouble with newspapers

With the baseball season in full swing, we have a habit in my family: my boys will open the front door in the morning, and pick up the three newspapers we get in order to steal the sports section to see how the Red Sox have done.

The other morning, my older son looked up from the sports section and asked me how much the Boston Globe costs each day. After I told him (without going into the higher cost for the Sunday paper), he asked me how much it costs each year. I gave him an estimate.

He then asked me a question that points to the problem facing newspapers everywhere: "But if you read it on the Internet, don't have to pay for the Globe -- right? Why don't you just read it for free on the Internet?"

I love reading newspapers, leafing through the pages even if they leave ink on my fingers that smudge on everything (as my wife points out). It can be easier to read the entire newspaper when it's available on paper, something more comfortable than the endless clicking on a computer.

Yet I realized I didn't have a good answer for my son.

It would be cheaper and would reduce smudges at home if I got in the habit of reading the online versions of the Globe, Times, Wall St. Journal and the 30 magazines.

Which is why newspapers are shrinking. Yet only the Journal has had a successful online subscriber base.

Guess my boys will have to learn, too, to log on first thing in the morning to check out the scores.

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