Yes to change, No to giving up The Times' print edition


By Tom Ehrich

Change happens, and I embrace it.

I haven't hesitated to give up check-writing, cable TV, land-line telephones, print books, print magazines, and most bricks-and-mortar shopping.

On to the new and, in my opinion, better.

But I hesitate -- agonize, even -- over one additional nod to modernity: the daily newspaper print edition, delivered to my door.

That's a no-brainer to most people. After all, their local papers are a shadow of their former selves. The Internet offers many ways to stay informed, some of them better than the local paper.

But I grew up on newspapers, worked for newspapers, and even now have a weekly column that goes out to over 100 newspapers. I can't imagine starting my day without The New York Times at breakfast.

Even so, I can feel doubts. The online version of The Times is better organized than the print, easier to read, and it stays current all day long. In my travels, I read The Times on my iPad and feel fine about it.

I also read a dozen news aggregators every day and sort through the nonsense on Facebook to find news from trusted sources. I feel better informed than ever.

Why get stuck on this one paradigm shift? It isn't nostalgia or some deep affection for paper. It feels like disloyalty to my nation.

I know The Times depends on the print edition for advertising revenues. Papers that lose ad revenues eventually cut staff so severely that they cease to cover the news at all.

The nation is better because The Times exists. Without a free, aggressive and fact-driven press, our democracy would be sunk.

For that reason alone I keep buying the print edition, even though I usually have read most of it online by the time I sit down with the "Grey Lady."

Makes no sense, does it? But then democracy makes no sense, either. Other systems would be more efficient.

Loss of American democracy, however, would be a tragedy. Many are trying to undermine our democracy -- some in the name of religion, some out of greed, some out of hatred. Demagogues backed by phony media are everywhere.

Some days it seems to me that The Times and a handful of other newspapers are all that stand in demagogues' way. My $47 a month for home delivery of The Times seems a small price to pay for democracy.

1 Comment