Annie Addison Uyehara: Guest Opinion
Aspen, CO Colorado
Dear Kai and Taber,
Coffee just tastes better when you’re reading a newspaper.
It has always been my morning ritual, to grind dark coffee beans and when the aromatic pot of coffee is ready, I pour some heavy whipping cream in my coffee mugs and sit down at the table to read the morning newspaper.
Likely when you read this letter, you will not have newspapers at all. This is why I write to you about them: It’s not just nostalgia that I write about; it’s about a way of life that I am sad that you are missing, and I hope you find a replacement.
Newspapers provided a way of life that in this crazy, dizzying pace we live in, just for that one hour, I got to sit, sip my coffee and read the newspaper, section by section, the newspaper spread out on the table. It truly was a luxurious thing for me to do for myself. I’d either choose the front section with the hard news, or the arts and entertainment section if I couldn’t handle the hard news just yet. Laid out before me were articles laced between ads that I just ignored, just as you do on the Internet, I am guessing. It’s the stories that counted. I could read them in any order I chose, and come back to them if I needed to get up for any reason; they’d still be there on the table.
There is something about the black ink that gave me comfort, that assured me that those who put the newspaper together engaged in hard work so that I could enjoy it in my home and know that more or less, the newspaper was put together with great care.
Having been a reporter for 16 years, I know a little bit about how stories are made. It takes a lot of hard work: many hours spent interviewing people, gathering facts and sources, and then, looking at my notes and taking that jumbled puzzle of information and forming a cohesive story for the masses to read, and hopefully to become informed.
Because of the pace of the world today and the highly competitive media market, reporters now slap things together without much work and very little fact-checking in order to get it out fast enough to beat the competition. Blogs are not real journalism, just so you know.
Newspapers are a source of information, routine (comfort), and a profession that was once filled with those of us who cared about seeking the truth in every story.
I wonder if you have that now. I will mourn if you do not.
The Rocky Mountain News has shut down its presses for good. It lost something like $16 million last year (you must adjust for inflation) and could not be sold. So it closed some 50 days short of its 150th birthday. Think of that: 150 years of mostly reliable news; of turning pages in our hands, of folding sections over so we can read a particular story later; of admiring a photographer’s ability to capture a moment; of learning about the world beyond our valley; of learning about our government, good and bad. Journalists are the Fourth Estate, the watchdogs over our government. At least they were when I became a reporter in 1990.
I wonder, again, if this will be the case when you read this letter. I write it, ironically, on a computer, which has replaced the newspaper, but has not replaced the fine skill of good journalism. Twittering, as we call it now, is not journalism. Blogging is mostly opinion, few facts, and requires very little thought and time. Good journalism requires both of these.
I mourn the loss of the Rocky Mountain News. Even in our valley, The Aspen Times and the Aspen Daily news are laying off staff and losing ad revenues. The Carbondale Valley Journal folded, as did La Tribuna. The Glenwood Post Independent is bravely holding on for dear life, too.
The largest and most prestigious newspapers in the United States are dying as well. Many are already gone.
I can’t imagine a world without newspapers. I know I will have to do so. But for now, I’ve got my cup of rich coffee and my Denver Post newspaper to read this morning. Waiting on the table are the latest editions of The Aspen Times and the Aspen Daily News. Long may they live, as real, hold-in-the-hand, turn-the-pages newspapers.
I love you.
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