Well, I’ve gone over to the dark side.
A few minutes ago I cancelled my subscription to the print edition of the Washington Post.
No, it wasn’t because I disagree with their editorial stands. Quite the contrary. I will always be grateful to the Post for its role in uncovering Richard Nixon’s malfeasance while in office. I shudder to think what would have happened had not a couple of young reporters followed the truth wherever it led. (Ordinarily I stay away from political comments on this blog, and I’m not trying to start an argument. I’m sharing my thoughts on this matter.)
I’m finding that other media keep me as informed as I want to be.
I’m also finding that I am incredibly ambivalent about doing this.
Ever since I can remember, I have read a print newspaper. I learned to read by sitting at the kitchen table with the Washington Daily News and asking my mom, “What does ‘C-o-n-g-r-e-s-s’ spell?”
I was about five years old. We had moved to Fairfax from College Park in January of 1952. Maryland schools enrolled five-year-olds. School age in Virginia was six. I couldn’t continue with first grade until September.
Miss Cook, who would have been my teacher, was beautiful and kind. She gave my mom some basal readers, Fun with Dick and Jane, We Work and Play, We Come and Go, and some other immortal tome.
I trudged home with my mom. I was so disappointed that I could not go to school that I cried.
And I didn’t need no stinkin’ basal readers. I had learned to read at the kitchen table with my mom’s long suffering help.
So, I continued to read the News, the backs of cereal boxes, magazines, anything with print on it.
(When I went back to rejoin the lovely and kind Miss Cook in first grade, she squatted down to my level, gently put her hands on my shoulders, looked up at my mother, and said words that changed my life forever: “Since he’s reading on a fifth grade level, we’ve decided to put him in second grade.”
The second grade teacher was nice and she was extremely competent (with a few exceptions, my teachers were excellent), but she was older and, well, looked like a witch. And she wasn’t Miss Cook. I saw my would have been first grade teacher a few times out in public, but basically she walked out of my life that day, and I never saw her again. I wonder what happened to her.
And so, I became a Reader. Readers are very special people for whom books are not a luxury: they are a necessity. When I meet a friend who is also a Reader, we talk about what we’re reading and what we’d like to read. (Sidebar: I have a list of 350 books I want to read. The problem is, the publishing world won’t stop so I can catch up. And since I have become an author, I tend to write more than read books. Don’t worry, though: I still devour magazines and anything else in print.)
I won’t be reading the Post in print any more.Sixty-one years of relying on print for news has come to an end.
I can re-start my subscription at any time.
I will miss hearing the familiar thump of the Post in its plastic bag hitting the asphalt of the driveway before dawn.
I have done this thing, but I’m not happy about it.
I’ll let you know how life is without a real-world paper is.
In the meantime, I’ll see you in the funny papers.