Today I’m staying at the Inn at the Union League of Philadelphia, a very old school gentleman’s club originally founded to support the policies of Abraham Lincoln. Old school like have to wear a coat and tie. Official policies now allow women and Democrats as members, but both would feel very out of place.
This morning they left a copy of the USA Today outside my room door. Every hotel used to do this; it’s hard to pin down exactly when they stopped, but nobody does it now. It seems like it’s been years since I even saw a newspaper. I remember them as fat wads of newsprint, full of articles and advertisements. When I was a kid, the A section of the hometown newspaper we subscribed to often had more than 20 pages. The thing outside my door this morning was gaunt, with hardly an ad to be seen, a mere shadow of its former self. The A section contained one full sheet and one half sheet, for a total of 6 pages. I skimmed through it and didn’t see a single thing I hadn’t already read about in my RSS feeds. The only ad in that section was a half page proclamation that “New Hemp Technology Is 450% Better For Discomfort Relief Than Regular Hemp Oil” with a crappy stock photo.
My children will never have the pleasure of fingers blackened by an hour reading and refolding some of yesterday’s news today. I appreciate the improvement in variety, availability, and timeliness that online information provides, but I miss the pride in craftsmanship of the writing and the experience of reading the newspaper.