Sometimes, you just can’t beat real thing

It’s nothing personal, mind you, but I’m hoping you’re getting your hands a little dirty to read this sentence. That would mean you’ve picked up a printed copy of the newspaper for your reading pleasure.

Of course, there’s a chance you’re reading it online. And to quote Jerry Seinfeld, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” In fact, I’m appreciative — and sometimes a little dumbfounded — that anyone carves out a minute or two of their week to read this space. But the old-fashioned side of me prefers the act of picking up the paper, opening it up and settling in for a little reading.

When someone asks me if I have any hobbies, I’ll usually say I write a weekly column for the Hastings newspaper. I don’t say that I’m a blogger; I don’t say that once a week I post rambling, disjointed thoughts on the Internet. They end up there, too, but I like to think they start out with ink hitting paper and that it will stay that way for a long time to come.
What got me thinking that way was the recent announcement that weekly news magazine Newsweek was going to stop publishing a printed issue and go to 100 percent online publishing. To read some of the articles that came out with the news, you can take your pick of reasons why it is being done. Some say it’s the reality of the times and we are increasingly turning to our computers for our reading updates. Others are simply saying certain people are running the magazine into the ground and this is a cop-out covering bigger problems. But the point remains they won’t be going to press — just to the cloud.

When I was growing up, it seems most households subscribed to either Newsweek or Time magazines. Maybe it’s because that was the best way to get in-depth news at the time. Maybe it was because when school kids came around selling magazine subscriptions for fund-raisers, you just felt more hip getting one of them as opposed to Good Housekeeping.
I was more of a Time guy myself, but every now and then, I take a look at Newsweek. During visits to the doctor’s office or — umm, shall we say the “barber shop” — I’ll usually gravitate first to Time or Newsweek if they’re there. Sure, sometimes National Enquirer rears its ugly head and must be given a glance, much like looking at a car wreck. How else am I going to know where Elvis and Jack Kennedy vacationed last weekend? But usually Newsweek would win out. And now it’s just a little disappointing that it will be going away.

Others have come and gone. Life was a staple for a long time, went away for a while and is back now. Look magazine, on the other hand, remains gone, I believe. Those were a little more to the side of fluff. For hard news, it was Newsweek and Time, with what news or feature event was highlighted on the cover often the topic of discussion itself.

There’s no doubt that in order to survive, print entities need to have a Web presence, as well. Even this paper can be viewed — for a nominal fee — in its entirely on the World Wide Web. I check a few Nebraska newspaper sites most every day. So I’ve got nothing against Internet publications. I just want the printed versions to survive as well.

When I sit down with my bowl of Wheaties in the morning, I want to spread a paper on the table in front of me to scan headlines and read the articles that catch my attention. I don’t really want to point and click at that time of day. Walking out to pick the paper up off the driveway is my version of “booting up” to start the day.

So, farewell, printed Newsweek. Sorry I never subscribed to help keep you alive. I might try to check in online every now and then to see how you’re doing. Or, now that I think of it, I should be able to catch a feature of two for the next few years if I ever need to go to the doctor’s office or hospital — magazines tend to stay there for a while.

Russ Batenhorst

Don't expect to detect a common topic or theme in Russ Batenhorst's weekly column in the Hastings Tribune. Usually it's whatever slice-of-life observation pops into his head just in time to make the deadline for it to appear each Friday.

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