For the love of print

I love books, magazines and newspapers. Electronic media is good, too, but I love print.



Georgia Brooks

 

I love print.

I love books, magazines and newspapers. Electronic media is good, too, but I love print.

I have a degree in journalism from the University of Tulsa. I taught journalism writing at TU. My first essay was published in the Tulsa World when I was 13 and set me on a career. Decades later, I still get a little thrill seeing my name as a byline. For years, I wrote a weekly restaurant review column for the Tulsa Tribune, not as a chef or gourmand, but as a restaurant reporter.

I learned to take newspapers seriously as a student at Coffeyville College, where journalism teacher J. Henry Hedley spent much of one class period having us practice turning the pages of a newspaper. He didn’t want to send his students out into the world to embarrass him by wrestling with pages flapping like a crazed road map.

I subscribe to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and I support the Frontier. If I had more money and more reading time, I would subscribe to more newspapers such as the Washington Post and the Economist. Of all the papers at my disposal, the first paper I read every day is the Tulsa World.

Aside: I just heard an NPR story saying too frequent use of the pronoun “I” can indicate depression. Yikes. Maybe I am depressed, not clinically, but melancholy about the plight of my local newspaper. We need national and international newspapers, but I believe that a community needs a local newspaper. I was happier when Tulsa had two strong, competitive daily newspapers. Each made the other better.

I have been saddened, bitter even, by the World’s layoffs and retirements and by the economics of print journalism that has shrunk the newspaper. My sentiments on the subject were printed as a Letter to the Editor in the Tulsa World, and I posted them on my Facebook page. Sympathetic readers replied with tender newspaper memories of their own.

Vickie Dawkins-Kersey wrote, “You beat me in getting published in the newspaper! I was 14, and the paper was the Daily Oklahoman.” She continued to contribute to the paper until the paper hired her full time at 17 right out of high school.

Juanita Clark wrote, “For many years, as my U.S. history students entered my classroom door, they picked up a newspaper, and their assignment was on the board. It was ‘living history.’”

Charles G. Friel said, “My dad retired from the Newspaper Printing Corporation (the Tulsa World) after 40 years of service. I delivered newspapers as a boy for the Tribune and the World in the late ’50s.”

Susan Gronberg said, “Doug and I can’t imagine living without a local paper, on paper.”

Another woman wrote that when she and her husband make road trips they pick up newspapers, usually weeklies, along the way. I like small-town papers, too. That’s where I discovered this want ad: “For sale. Wedding dress. Size 14. Never been worn.” I’m curious about the back story.

Small-town papers often print the police blotter. That’s how I learned from reading a Pawhuska paper about a felony described as “prisoner placing body fluid on government employee.” Good information. Who knew that was a felony?

I am a devotee of newspapers’ well-written obituaries of people I didn’t even know. They remind me of one of my favorite books, Janet Flanner’s “Paris was Yesterday” — cultural history captured in a collection of miniature profiles of Josephine Baker, Maurice Ravel, Pablo Picasso and others.

Not everybody shares my devotion to print newspapers. “Buggy whip!” one man responded. “Go digital.”

I agree with the woman who wrote me, “I will hate the day we have no newspaper to hold in our hands and enjoy the insightful news, features, obits, editorials, comics, columns and photos that make newspapers so special.”

I worry that without subscriptions, the newspapers I love might disappear, and that would be a tragic loss. So I urge others to subscribe. Even when my local paper is smaller than I would like, I support it, remembering how the great historian Angie Debo, writing from her small hometown of Marshall, Oklahoma, quoted Plutarch: “As for me, I live in a small town where I am willing to continue, lest it grow smaller.”

 

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