You Can’t Be Serious - A newspaper is a circulating library …

You Can´t Be Serious
You Can´t Be Serious

I have a friend down in Cork: Brian Kearney is not only the guy who got me into walking, but I would also rate him as one of the best ‘spinners of a yarn’ I have ever come across. One such story gives me the opening for this week’s article; as it demonstrates the importance of the newspaper and how we used to be so very attached to our favourite paper.

Brian and a business colleague were at a conference; I think it may have been in Galway. Anyway, it was in a top hotel. Down for breakfast and the friend went over to the desk to pick up one of the courtesy daily newspapers left by reception. After turning over ‘The Irish Times’, ‘The Irish Independent’, and maybe a couple of others; the man turned to the receptionist and asked; “Have u de paper?’ The ever-helpful lady replied, “yes Sir” and nodded towards the stacks on the desk.

Her guest was far from happy. “De paper … de paper, Alanah, de Examiner … where is de ‘Cork Examiner’?” “I’m sorry, Sir; we don’t have that one; but I’m sure I can send out and get you one, if it is important?” “IMPORTANT … IMPORTANT … it is VITAL!” replied the businessman sardonically – and sure enough, by the time he had started his breakfast there was a ‘Cork Examiner’ delivered to his table.

This little story tells how important the newspaper was not so very long ago. Other nationalities are often surprised at how literate and well up are ordinary Irish people. This was all down to the fact that we were all unwavering lovers of newspapers; daily, Sunday – and most importantly of all, our local paper. Here you could read about people we knew – and even ourselves, as early as we started playing schools and under-age hurling.

The contents of newspapers was consumed, stored and discussed by families, friends and neighbours. I remember two of our neighbour’s houses, Forde’s and Harris’; one got ‘The Irish Press’ and the other ‘The Irish Independent’. Every night the two papers were exchanged, so that nothing was missed and the news therein could be compared!

Once upon a time, I couldn’t properly function until I got that day’s paper in my hand. I gave it three ‘readings’. The first and hurried one took in ‘the deaths’, a cursory leafing through the pages, mentally noting what was of primary interest for a second reading and then I devoured the sports pages. The second reading consisted of reading the stuff I had found of greatest interest in my initial perusal. Last thing that night was a fuller gleaning and also doing the crossword.

I heard recently from a ‘friend of a friend’, high up in the newspaper industry, that they expect the printed daily paper to be gone in five years. This saddens me no end – even though the weekend editions and the provincial papers do have a future in its printed form. I sure hope we hold onto at least that much – but I don’t believe the situation is as critical as it appears at the moment.

There must be a lot of people like me who don’t want to get their news and views on Twitter or social media. I can’t do it … I don’t actually go for the daily paper any more – but most times I’ll still buy it if I’m in the shop. I have access to ‘The Irish Times’ epaper – but half the time I don’t even open it.

As for ‘The Examiner’, or whatever your local paper is; nothing quite compares to the feeling of picking up our own paper in the shop. The texture of the feel of that paper between your fingers and few ever leave that shop without first reading most of the front page. Local newspapers provide a service to their communities that no other outlet can.

Please, somebody tell me that ‘the paper’ isn’t going to go the way of the dodo. Even if you say so; I won’t believe you, because it hurts too much. But, I have a sliver of hope which says that you are wrong.

Ninety-five per cent of people in Finland aged 15 and over read newspapers, according to a survey from the National Media Unit (KMT) Reading is very evenly distributed across age, occupational and income groups. The good news is that well over half of these readers are opting for hard copy printed papers.

We need our printed papers; something you can leave down and go back to at your leisure. We need honest reporting and accurate journalism by reputable journalists – and not the outrageous rubbish that any yahoo can post on Twitter. We have unbiased news at our fingertips in this country. This cannot be taken for granted – as we can see from what is happening in other ‘civilised’ countries.

Think about it and support our newspapers. Once again we fall back on the adage; ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it.’

Don’t Forget

Tomorrow’s history will consist of today’s current events.