Once upon a time, when I was a full-time journalist working to improve my performance at my craft, I would travel to here and there and pick up newspapers along the way.
My goal was to read them, to glean some ideas I could take back with me to the newspaper where I worked.
Man, those days have disappeared. So has the habit of reading newspapers around the country.
My wife and I just returned from a two-week journey to the Pacific Coast. I didn’t pick up a single newspaper. Heck, I barely saw a single newspaper.
We ventured through cities with strong newspaper traditions: Albuquerque, Phoenix, Bakersfield, Sacramento to name just four. We stayed for a few nights in Santa Cruz, Calif., which has a paper I would read when we visited my sister and her family; not this time! I had no interest in seeing the San Jose Mercury-News, or the San Francisco Chronicle.
I did pick up one newspaper along our nearly 3,800-mile trek. We stopped for a bite in Memphis, Texas on our way home. I saw a copy of the Red River Sun, which I believe has replaced the Childress Index as the paper of the region. It contained a lot of community news: reunions, award ceremonies, city and school news. Hey, it’s the kind of thing I am writing these days for the Princeton Herald!
But I am a freelance writer these days, which kind of frees me of the responsibility of looking for ways to improve the newspaper for which I write; that task belongs to my bosses.
It’s not that I miss the opportunity to see what other newspapers are doing to present their news and commentary. It’s just that I am still getting accustomed to the idea that I no longer have to worry about the hassles associated with persuading my bosses to implement the changes I pick up along the way.
Yep. Life continues to be very good.