I am always overcome with nostalgia whilst watching one of those old movies where a couple sits at the breakfast table sipping coffee and nibbling croissants. All the while, the husband is buried in his thick morning paper. Reading the paper has been a staple to starting the day for so long, it's hard to comprehend how far off most of us have veered from tradition. Who wants to wait for the paper with yesterday's news when an alert on your phone will give you a live update? However, because of that instant availability, we tend to interact with the world through a watered down, CliffsNotes-esque arsenal of news items. Headlines are really all we need - "air strike there", "shooting there", "protests continue here." Few bother to delve deeper into the nitty gritty of all the conflicts.
While I do like to be in the know as things happen around the world, the grip of "the morning paper" fantasy remained strong. Then, as if by fate, I won a yearlong subscription to The Wall Street Journal and, as they say, the rest is history. Walking down to the mailbox every morning to find a neatly rolled paper in a plastic baggie brought back plenty of my own childhood memories. It was a grown-up affair, and now I could partake in it myself. What I quickly learned though, is that reading a paper a day is a genuine commitment. Sure, I skim the occasional local paper every now n' then and have plenty of other subscriptions, but in terms of world news, all the content has been absorbed through online activity and usually while multitasking, which is why it didn't seem to take much time at all. A serious sit down with a full read through can chew up as much as an hour of your time.
The first week was terrible, with a huge lag in reading. Suddenly, it felt like homework. You can't read the new one until you're caught up on the old ones. There was no glamour of leisure and sophistication of a bygone era. Instead, there sat a rapidly mounting chore. Having miraculously caught up on all of them, a task that at one time seemed entirely impossible, I can now attest to the pleasurable, rewarding aspects of this endeavor. Internet alerts are still welcome, but the smell of a fresh paper, the crisp feel of it in your hands, it's worth the time and effort. The print industry is on its last legs, so I hope there remain enough people who still read their morning papers, whether out of habit, duty, or nostalgia.