The View from Writers Roost
Feb 15, 2013 | 1351 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MANY NATIONAL, state and local newspaper columnists provide me and other readers, regardless of philosophical and/or political differences, lots of material to digest, then act on if so moved.

Kathleen Parker is someone I read regularly although I often find much to disagree with in her missive.

In a recent column, she said “goodbye to the world of print,” which I acknowledge has a ring of truth but being an old newspaperman, I am wont to say “slow down.”

A news magazine to which I subscribe — Newsweek — told me I’ve received my last print edition and that the next one will be digital. My switch to Newsweek many years ago was one of those philosophical things. I found Time to be a bit inclined to lean one way (more liberal) and U.S. News & World Report was too far right. Newsweek was middle of the road and, I felt, more balanced thus more accurate. I feel compelled to interject here that newspapers print news and that their opinions and interpretations are confined to pages labeled “opinion” or some synonym.

As for the community newspaper segment of the print industry, a great many produce a digital edition for a couple of reasons. First, no one wants to dismiss the younger folks market, which does almost everything with a computer or an iPhone, and in the case of the previous, hand-held is preferable. Nor do we want to lose any of the middle-aged-to-older market (including me) that probably still prefers print.

Some of us like printer’s ink on our fingers from reading a newspaper, although new inks and better press/printing facilities have eliminated much of that messiness.

HOWEVER, in our new home of Lake Charles, La. (five minutes from our son), I can’t get a newspaper I’ve been reading since 1958 — The Houston Chronicle. And, if I want to keep up with what’s going on in my home state, as I have for my first three-quarters of a century, then I have to do it digitally to receive current news and not 2-3 days late with a print product via mail (and I do).

In addition to digital gaining a hold in the newspaper and magazine segment of the print media, we are told that eBooks are the coming thing. Life Mate and I are both always reading a book, in addition to newspapers every day and weekly. And, I find holding an iPad awkward in a reclining position while getting ready for sleep to slip up on me.

Naturally, I use my Apple MacIntosh desktop computer to produce this column every week and to send it to papers that subscribe to it. I do a lot of e-mail communication. I was never much of a personal letter writer and prefer to communicate with close friends and family via phone. Only in-the-flesh beats the sound of someone’s voice whom you love and respect.

A greeting card with a thoughtful, handwritten personal message is good, but it doesn’t beat the in-person wish accompanied by whatever else meaningful your presence can bring. The human touch is always preferable to digital or paper. And, I suppose that receiving a personal note via the computer and e-mail indicate an instantaneous message sent by a personal touch to a key on the device sending the message.

DOES THAT make it more special?

As for books, I especially love the smell of old, dusty books because to me it indicates age with which comes wisdom.

Smells from a book also tell us that humans have handled it and we may feel justified in our choice because we know many others have grasped the book as they delayed sleep and gained all that knowledge, insight and enjoyment the author and publisher intended.

What kind of odor emanates from a computer?

Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher of more than 50 years experience. He can be reached by email at
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