Saturday, October 24, 2015

Reading the local newspaper

      The first thing I do when I receive the weekly edition of the Livingston County News is to go to the opinion page and read my column, AND ONE MORE THING…
     Seriously? I’d admit that in public?
      Of course, I’d be lying if I told you differently. I have to get it out of the way before I go to the rest of the paper. (My column appears every other week on this page.)

     May I interject here that reading the print version compared to the online account of a column is a whole different matter. I’ve noticed it, and I have tried to adjust my writing style for online as well with shorter, concise paragraphs.
     Wordiness has no place in writing a column, and I keep my writing clean. At the last minute I am taking away a fuzzy or repetitive phrase before I push “send” to the editor.
     Online reading demands that eyes run quickly over phrases and less is more than enough. A reader learns to adjust his rate differently. At least that’s what I am noticing in trending topics coming through on my daily LinkedIn home page.
    A reporter told me that in his opinion what he has written doesn’t translate online the same and seems less personal. Now he’s of the electronic generation, and it is interesting to hear it from a writer’s perspective that the old-fashioned way has its merits.  
      I beg to differ. I read my pieces both ways, and if I have hit the mark, the content is fine either format.
     I also know that I have to have a very compelling piece on a topic of general interest executed with the proper number of giggles and seriousness to hold anyone glued to AND ONE MORE THING… for its entirety.

     Younger readers tell me that they have less time to “pour” over articles, and need the delivery as quickly as possible. News bytes are satisfying and engage them momentarily.
     Buzz Feed is big into articles with lists: “The 11 most helpful phrases to use when you meet new people at a party.” “5 survival techniques when your family visits over the holidays.” Photography and videos accompany the writing, which keeps you on the site. Watch out you don’t get sidetracked with the pop-up ads, though.
      Actually, “pouring” over the paper pretty much dates your age group.
     My mother would clip dress advertisements from the New York Times and order an outfit. A week or so later, a box would arrive from a famous department store, and out came the actual dress.
     One Lincoln Street neighbor wrote an eloquent Letter to the Editor at least once a week on a topic covered in the paper. He believed in free speech and fortunately, the editor allowed space for his views.
     However, when the gentleman got into his encounters with extraterrestrial phenomenon, his writing left me behind. He would come over to our porch and lend me his articles carefully clipped from the paper along with a book or two. I don’t believe I ever did more than a cursory look over, and when he returned for his material a couple days later, this teenager would fake interest in Martian landings.
     Of course, I grew up holding a newspaper in my hands, and it is the most comfortable and natural form of reading.
     One of my part time jobs while in high school was at a small national travel trailer magazine. I assisted the editor doing the “paste-ups” of the front page before going to press. Once I had the opportunity to write a short piece about a retired couple becoming full- time campers from a letter received along with a follow-up phone call. The editor patiently guided me – I had a million plus questions- through the process of accurate reporting, and the resulting article were nothing to write home about, but nevertheless, acceptable.

     I surprise myself with how many papers I do read on line, though, and I get a broader perspective of international news.
      I don’t know where I would be without the online edition of the Livingston County News and its up-to-the minute stories and local weather. It proudly comes up on my homepage every morning and I take time to read the latest headlines and the weather. The obituaries call to be read daily, and more often than not, a familiar name stares me in the face.
     There is a bit of nostalgia in checking in on my hometown newspaper via the online edition every once in awhile to see if a name or place catches my attention.
    The front page of the Livingston County News is the second place that I go, and it covers all the county.
     I call myself an “equal opportunity reader” and whereever my eyes drop, I start reading whether it is an ad, sports story or news feature. I admit to reading randomly throughout the paper while it stays on my coffee table for the week no different than my mother or grandmother who kept sections of the newspaper on the dining table for days.
     What appeals to me about a local weekly newspaper is the idea that I can sit down for five minutes and read about a high school player of the week, another columnist’s work, check the photography and find an activity within driving range.  
     Before recycling the newspaper, I clip out my column and save it in my ever-bulging file. Shouldn’t I just go with the understanding that it is in the newspaper’s permanent online archives?