Saturday, April 11, 2009

A virtually lovely, lazy Saturday morning with the morning paper, sort of.

Nothing exciting to report from my Saturday morning, but it was pretty much my favorite way to start any weekend: lazing about under the covers with a newspaper and some coffee 'til lunchtime. The older I get, the more firmly I become convinced that this is really the only civilized way to begin the day.

The one recent change in that Saturday morning routine has been the move of the Detroit Free Press away from home delivery to its online-only format on Saturdays. This is the third Saturday that I've had to function without my morning Free Press. Sure, there's still a New York Times waiting for us out in the paper box, but the front page of the New York Times is no way to start a pleasant day. I much prefer starting my day with the sports and comics before working my way up to the hearing from the rest of the world. I'm still toying with the idea of going to a 7-day New York Times subscription, just to have a physical paper, but I've decided to embrace the future for a little while and see how it goes.

This morning I did discover the first concrete advantage to not getting my paper delivered in the morning. I felt no obligation whatsoever to put on my robe and slippers to walk out in the 33-degree morning to fetch the New York Times when what I really wanted was a recap of the Tigers' opening day obliteration of the Rangers, plus my morning comics. Instead I just stayed quietly in bed and read the paper on my iPod, snug beneath three layers of blankets and soothed by the mellow tones of the snoring wife and beagle. This was waaaaay, waaaaay better than getting upright and going outside into a pretty blustery April morning.

Three weeks into the Free Press's dive into semi-virtuality, my iPod Touch has become my default newspaper reader, since it has the advantage of being a good deal easier than my laptop to carry about as I go through my morning routine. The iPod's screen is considerably smaller than I'd prefer, but the mobile edition is made for that sort of small screen and formats text pretty well for it. And the electronic edition, which provides a replica of the printed paper, does a pretty good job of displaying the comics in a way that's still basically readable on my iPod. So I read the sports on the mobile edition, hit a few other sections to see if there's anything interesting, and then finish off my morning browsing with the comics on the digital edition.

One thing I've noticed, though, is that if my morning newspaper needs to compete with the entire Internet, sometimes it loses. I've got fantasy baseball news to catch up on, and the Free Press no longer carries box scores. Plus, the extremely local news on Facebook is generally of more immediate interest to me than the assorted bits of local non-news that the Free Press usually carries. ("News Flash: City of Detroit government proves incompetent yet again! Read all about it! Yet again!") And then there are always a few blogs out there that generally provide more interesting fare than the pared back content of the tattered remnants of my newspaper habit.

Oh, and the Free Press also just dropped Gil Thorpe from the sports section, which just flat-out irks me. How can you drop Gil Thorpe? You know, Free Press, if I've gotta go to the Chicago Tribune's web site to read Gil Thorpe, I might just stick around over there. Maybe I'll even click on a few of their ads. Do you hear me, Free Press?

It's going to be interesting over the next few months to see whether the Free Press can continue to be a part of my morning habit. Or whether it will start to fade into the background. In many ways, the real reason I read it every morning -- especially as its real news quotient has dropped sharply over the last ten years and it became more of an aggregator of newswires than a genuine reporting resource -- was that it continued to be delivered to me every morning. And I like having a morning paper to browse through as I claw my way to consciousness each morning.

I've always subscribed to the local paper, wherever I've lived. It never occurred to me that one day the local paper would stop subscribing to me!


  1. Our local paper subscription must have run out this week, as I've been paperless for three mornings in a row. I will be scampering out on Monday to renew it. As our local paper doesn't have a Sunday edition, and I don't want the bulk of a Washington Post or somesuch, I'll just continue to twitch through Sunday mornings.

  2. Speaking of some pretty interesting blogs that have more to offer than the Freep, I turned to this one just after noting that the Detroit News ranks right up there with the Freep in vacuity.

  3. Must add one more comment. I clicked through the first Google ad. They often change after you do that. I was amused to find that the next advertiser was The Detroit Newspapers, urging us to love the Freep and the News...!