Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A life of its own on the Internet

It's been really interesting to follow the online life of my piece in the Christian Science Monitor since its publication on the lucky date of 8/08/08. It's been picked up and is now listed on Google in many other blogs and sites, sometimes with comments. I've seen in it "Newspaper Death Watch," a blog chronicling the decline of newspapers; in "Fading to Black," a blog from "" which describes itself as "A look at the downward spiral of the newspaper industry because no news is bad news."

The article showed up on Sustainable News in Sedona, Arizona, preceded by a video message from somebody aiming to keep community news afloat on the Internet; on Gulf News going to military personnel in the Mideast; on "Everyone is Family" at the real; on the Global Air Referral Service, where the blogger simply picks up and posts articles he enjoys; on former Peace Corps volunteer Charlie Jewett's blog; and in a place that especially pleased me, The Rural Blog, from the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.

At one blog hit which has since disappeared from Google, my article drew about a dozen comments -- from a bunch of apparent right-wingers who said it wasn't the physicality of newspapers that is dooming the industry, but the content -- the tired old "liberal bias of the media" cliche. I had to smile at one remark by a writer disdaining my thesis and referring to my opening scene who snarked, "and anyway, what kind of people sit around reading out loud to each other?" My wonderful husband and me, that's who, bozo. And thousands of other people, I reckon, for whom reading out loud to each other is part of a deeply pleasurable, companionable daily ritual.

At many of the locales where my piece was reproduced, folks added their own memories and thoughts about the sensory experience of holding an actual newspaper; In The Rural Blog, journalist Al Cross particularly touched me with this reminiscence:

I was a pest to typesetter Phillip Allen, who ran the Linotype at the Clinton County News in Albany, Ky., because I wanted him to do box scores for the all-star games of the local Little League and Babe Ruth League, for which I was official scorer and correspondent. Why he gave in to a 12-year-old, I don't know. The smell and feel I remember most is taking the slug of hot type from Phillip, running an ink roller over it, laying down a strip of paper and using a heavy roller to pull a galley proof. There's nothing like helping produce your own story with ink, metal and paper, and that experience is part of the reason I will buy printed newspapers as long as they're produced – which I expect to be for the rest of my life. I'm 54.

What's ironic about all this, of course, is that all these posts appeared on the Internet, and if we were still relying on hard copies of newspapers I'd never have seen them. In that regard, the proliferation of conversation -- how we can all talk to each other so widely and easily -- is something to celebrate.

After my piece came out, I looked all over San Pedro and environs to find a copy of the Christian Science Monitor to buy, and nobody out here seemed to have it. The famous newstand on Las Palmas Ave. in Hollywood just outside my husband's store, which we used to be able to rely on to pick up almost anything, including some esoteric and wonderful literary magazines, recently pulled down its shutters. Happily I got a hand-addressed packet from CSM with two copies of the tabloid enclosed. I appreciated the gesture, and will of course cherish these vestigial remains of a disappearing era.


Gillian Swart said...

How ironic indeed! But great, huh? How did you resist giving the snarky person an online smackdown?

kissthenightair said...

Fun, or at least interesting anyhow, to be able to watch what happens with what you wrote. By the way, it was a well-written piece and congratulations!

jeneva said...

My husband and I read the paper out loud to each other! And I've been meaning to tell you that I enjoyed the article.

Darkpoet said...

PFFT I say! I know my girlfriend's family still reads as a whole family when they can get together. I certainly hope that once we move in, it'll take up some of our evenings. There has to be a club out there for people that still read for pleasure...or a support group or something.