April 24, 2023

My sister knows I love to work the crossword puzzle in my newspaper, but she had to laugh when she noticed I was doing the Easter crossword while we were in Wichita.  I technically take the paper for the news it provides, and no matter how busy I think I am; I try to take time to read the paper.  The problem comes when I get caught up in other activities.  When Melissa and I went overseas I dutifully stopped the paper so they would not pile up.  When we got home, I found our neighbor had been collecting the papers that were still delivered daily.  It took several weeks to catch up on the news (read, crossword).  The print issues of my paper have also been cut back over the last two years, even while the price rose.  They have also stopped printing on Saturdays and major holidays.  I chalked this up to covid (this is the excuse for everything, right?).  The paper has informed me I can go online and get the paper, but I like the feel of holding the paper in my hands.  I have also been skeptical of how I could accomplish filling out the crossword, the real purpose of taking my paper.

When I looked online, I found the print newspaper industry is struggling to stay in business, causing the small town papers to cease publication or be taken over by large conglomerates.  Even those that have survived have suffered huge staff cuts.  The question raised by the website concerned the pros and cons of print verses online publication.  The pro for a print newspaper was it is physical (al la, me).  You can hold the warm newspaper in your hands (avoiding the fresh ink) and can save it to look back on at any time.  The con of a print newspaper is the cost.  Although this is comparatively small, it is perhaps one of the biggest reasons for decline.  The decline in circulation can lead to a decline in advertising, which supports the main cost of printing.  The pro for an online newspaper is it is immediately accessible and convenient.  You do not have to worry about a missed delivery or make a trip to the store and can look at the online edition immediately.  The con is the online version tends to not include everything in the print addition, and especially with the special editions released as a special print publication outside of the regular edition.  The article suggested you must experience both newspaper formats and determine for yourself which one is right for you.  This still did not address my crossword issue.

I had created an online account for my print subscription over a year ago but had not taken the time to look at the content offered.   I revisited the online subscription to see what was included as content (and if there was a crossword).  Once I found my login requirements (Melissa stores them), I was able to scroll through the various sections (news, sports, obituaries, etc.).  I did not see “crossword” listed, so I typed it in at the search field.  This brought up a new set of daily puzzles that could be filled out online.  There were several different puzzles offered, along with the advertisements that allowed them to open.   There was also a PDF version with all the content laid out by the print newspaper.  The PDF crossword was available, but I would need to print it to work the puzzle.  Since the daily crossword was different on the two formats (online and print), I may start doing both.  

Thoughts:  The online version of the paper was confusing at first.  While the regular format was offered, there were other articles at the bottom of the scroll.  I recognized these as the “news” offered when I open one of my browsers.  These are social and entertainment sites added as teasers to get me to follow rabbit holes that provide pop up ads, and little content.  While I am generally an old school historian and like the feel of papers and books I my hands, I recognize the advantage of being able to access these items digitally.  The greater issue is not how you access your news, but the source.  Fact checking and reputable media sources are crucial.  Every source has bias, but I trust those that state the bias upfront rather than hiding it in the content.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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