That’s news to me

“I’ve never met anyone who gorges on newspapers as much as you.”

“Do you really find the time to read two newspapers every day?”

These remarks, uttered by the Beloved Husband and a friend recently, expose an addiction of mine: I love reading newspapers. I think that BH thinks I read the paper so that I can get an advantage when playing Jeopardy, but no, it doesn’t really help with categories like “18th Century Russian Literature.” Since my early teens, I’ve always read a daily paper, almost entirely front to back (with the exception of the Business pages). It’s simply that I’m a news-and-information addict. But not news and information from just any source. I love the physical experience of spreading out a newspaper and flipping the pages.

I remember that one of my favourite experiences during my uni years were Saturday mornings, when I’d come back from the store with the week’s groceries and my Gazette, and then spread out that gorgeous, thick weekend paper, sit back with a snack in hand, and fritter away two hours, oblivious to the rest of the world. (Back in my early teens, when I did this under my parents’ roof, they would remark upon my “waste of time” with a mixture of annoyance, and I think, pride.) It was a way for me to relax with reading other than the required course material, and to start the weekend off thinking of something besides writing term papers. When I had the money, I would also buy the French paper La Presse as well, just to compare the different takes on the same events. This still is my favourite way to spend Saturdays, and if I don’t have the time on Saturdays, I make it up as soon as I find two free hours.

I love everything about the physical experience of reading a newspaper, from unfolding the paper so that it spills all over the table, to wiping the ink stains off my hands (not so much a problem now as it was 20 years ago). I love the big papers of the major cities that I’ve lived in, and make it a point to buy a paper whenever I travel to a new city. The only papers against which I discriminate are the tabloid-style papers, with their upfront emphasis on crime stories, and daily shots of women in bikinis. I read everything from news to lifestyle articles, from op-eds to classified ads. When I have lots of extra time on my hands, I even read the most mundane classified ads that have no relevance to me, and have to admit that in moments of utter boredom, I used to play matchmaker among the lonely hearts of the Personal ads. “SWF looking for a non-smoker who loves candlelit dinners? Have I got a man for you, over in column two!”

I don’t like to get my news on-line, like BH does. (Not surprising, for someone who still prefers a Filofax over a Blackberry, a notepad—the kind with paper—over a netbook.) I find web pages too cluttered and distracting, with their bright colours, flashing ads, and too many links that threaten to draw my attention away from what I originally came to read. I can’t stand the often-inflammatory or just plain vacuous comments at the bottom of the news articles (but like a road accident, it beckons to the rubbernecker in me, so I usually do glance at a few comments before wishing that I hadn’t). No, I prefer my news in print, that I have to go out to pick up off my driveway, even if the info isn’t as updated as quickly as it is on-line. I guess it’s all part and parcel of my desire to live the easy, slow life in this age of give-it-to-me-quickly.

So with the recent declarations that newspapers are losing money and may become obsolete in this age of free and fast information, I’m one of these readers who fear that my beloved daily entertainment will soon be obliterated. It’ll be like losing a dear friend whom I’ve gotten to know and love for all of my adult life, and trying to replace it with its younger, brasher sibling. It’s almost inevitable though, so that’s why for now, I’m enjoying my relationship with my friend as much as I can, for two hours every day.

I could go on and on here with this posting, but you’ll have to excuse me. There’s a newspaper calling to me right now.