Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Post Traumatic Stress

In March of 1954, the Washington Post merged with the Washington Times-Herald. I was 6, and what I remember was that I now had twice as many comics to read. I had learned to read at age 4 under the tutelage of my sister and by looking at the comics and the sports section of the Post. Except for the 18 months I worked in another city, I have read the paper almost every day. For nearly the past 42 years, I have been a paid subscriber. I turned first to sports, then to the local  section, then the A-section, then to Style. 

I became a journalist, and though I have been out of practice for some time, still consider myself one. I was a news junkie and was privileged to teach journalism at the university where I learned most of what I knew about the production of what we call news. Needless to say, the Post was a part of my life.

Today marks a passage. There was no Washington Post in my flower bed. I have let my subscription lapse. Last year, the paper dropped its rate by more than half in order to keep subscribers and, frankly, I will lose money by canceling, due the grocery coupons I have been using. 

But the Washington Post is so devoid of useful information that it has become irrelevant. For years, it has been so thin, you could tear even the Sunday section in half with your bare hands. There are few reporters doing anything useful, seemingly no copy editors, a cultural viewpoint aimed at snarky X-ers, who don’t read the paper to begin with. In fact, the last useful thing I  took from the Post was last night – a gorgeous photo of a double rainbow over the national Mall, which is now my PC’s desktop background. 

I kept reading the Post until the daily glut of errors and other insults to my intelligence mounted. My blood pressure is more important than the grocery coupons and pictures. What the newspaper may provide of value I can get online when I choose to look for it or from Facebook friends. 

I can’t think of anything I will miss (besides the coupons), but I most certainly will not miss offensive writers such as Adam Kilgore and Sally Jenkins of the sports section, local columnist Courtland Milloy, national columnist George Will,  the indescribably awful but still occasionally published Sally Quinn, and the new owner, Jeff Bezos. 

Goodbye old friend.

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