August 7, 2013
This week’s shock fire sale of the once-vaunted Washington Post to a home-shopping magnate was another inglorious jolt reminding us that newspapers have committed themselves to a slow and painful suicide. It was like watching a body in free-fall from some high rooftop slamming off another windowsill in its long journey to the pavement.
When I was a boy growing up in a one-stoplight tobacco town in Southside Virginia, my father subscribed to a solid 12 pounds of newspapers every day from around the country. I know this because one of my first jobs was walking to the post office to collect them all. They were rolled into logs and wrapped in brown paper. I walked them home in a little cart. Not bad work for a quarter.
In the evening, my father would sit in his office, take one of the fat rolls, and using his pen-knife, slice through the brown paper until it plumped open. These newspapers–including the Washington Post–would unfurl into exotic and exciting stories from far-away places that dazzled a 10-year-old kid living in a small town in the middle of nowhere.