Friday, November 4, 2011


Last week, the Associated Press reported that “an 80-year-old man who went to retrieve the morning papers on his lawn sank into an 8-foot hole on New York's Long Island.”  Rescuers arrived after the man’s daughter, who heard his cries for help, called for assistance.  The rescuers had to tie some Spiderman webbing around his torso to pull him out successfully. 
I can totally relate to that man’s experience.  The newspaper can be a complete sinkhole for me, particularly on Sunday mornings.  Front page, sports section, style, the magazine, is easy to get lost in that world.  I never call for rescuers to save me from my reading, however, but my family finds me anyway.  They usually show up unannounced to pull me out of the newsprint against my will.  The kids will call my name, but I can only be extracted from the paper by physical taps (read: punches on the leg) that get my attention.  What can I say, I’m focused, and that’s an admirable quality.

Not all sinkholes are bad.

My son has inherited the gene for rabid newspaper reading.  As befits his age and station in life, he begins each morning with the sports section and the comics.  He’ll grow into the op-ed page with the appropriate paternal seasoning.  His newspaper sinkhole does not dip as deeply into his consciousness as mine; however, he has lost track of time and missed his school bus on occasion while studying box scores and standings.  He’s well informed, but the late slips are adding up.

I have thought about cancelling my newspaper subscription.  After all, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free on the Internet?  I can read just about anything that’s delivered to my driveway on paper from a smudge-proof webpage.  “Look, ma, no newsprint fingerprints on the white refrigerator!”  I keep my subscription as an act of charity.  Up to this point, I view my subscription payment as a donation to a vibrant 4th Estate.  I want serious journalism to survive, and I fantasize that my subscription dollars are going directly to investigative efforts that hold our civic leaders accountable and uncover all manner of societal malfeasance.  My money is buying real professional journalism, not some two-bit hack bloggers interpretation of events.  I am paying for objectivity.

If only.

The Long Island man joked that throughout the ordeal, "I held on to the papers."  I can relate to that guy, with one caveat.  I would have waited to finish the paper before calling for help.  That way I wouldn’t have to fight my son for the sports section and no one would be banging on my leg for attention. 
Not all sinkholes are bad.

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