Fish Rap Live! — the alternative humor paper at my undergraduate campus — might be my favorite newspaper name of all time. It’s brutally honest and spot-on descriptive as far as newspaper monikers go. In the newsrooms I worked in, reporters had no illusions about what the general public seemed to think of newspapers — great as fish wrap, birdcage liner, puppy house-training material. Other than that, newspapers were just the bearer of sensational headlines and the publication that got ink all over your hands. More of a nuisance than anything, really.
I thought about various disposal methods when the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News confirmed today that they plan on ending daily home delivery. It seemed almost anti-climatic, since news of the plan leaked last week and there had been rumors of this type of move well before that. The daily print editions of the papers will continue to be sold at newsstands and in newspaper boxes, but delivery will only happen on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Everyone knows newspapers have no choice but to move toward digital delivery, though I readily admit that I was among the guilty who didn’t think it would happen this quickly. The Christian Science Monitor’s October announcement of its decision to end its print edition entirely had to convince even the most skeptical, however, that it’s just a matter of time.
I watched Detroit Media Partnership’s news conference online today (of course), and to my surprise, I wasn’t sad or even nostalgic. As I’ve written about recently, I am seriously concerned about the scale of layoffs and buyouts in the newspaper industry. But daily home delivery? Though I still like getting the paper, I actually get most of my news online. I always have.
Not too long from now, kids will react to the concept of daily delivery of morning and afternoon newspapers the way I reacted when I first heard about eight-track tapes. Lifestyles change, and the news industry has to roll with it.
Now, figuring out what to wrap those fish bones in when there isn’t any newspaper around — that might take a little more time.
Photo credit: The Horse’s Mouth blog