I used to work in newspapers.
I can imagine repeating those words to my grandchildren decades from now and being met with incredulous looks.
“Newspapers!” they’ll exclaim. “You must be SO old.”
Because, by then, newspapers will be akin to papyrus scrolls.
And that kills me.
I loved working in newspapers.
I loved dashing off to breaking stories with a notepad and handbag full of plastic biros. I loved the stress of 6pm when weathered, grumpy sub editors would curse across the room about misplaced apostrophes and misspelt place names. I loved working into the night and sometimes sleeping in the office sick bay because I was too full of adrenalin to want to ever go home. Ever.
And I loved newspapers themselves.
I loved the smell. I loved the black smudges that would be left on my fingers. I loved buying a Saturday edition that was so thick you could hardly wrap your hand around it. I always measured a product’s worth by its weight.
I don’t work in newspapers anymore.
I got out just before they stopped teaching shorthand and the notepads were replaced by dictaphones. I got out just before the majority of those subeditors were made redundant. I got out before the price of the paper rose another 20 cents. My local newspapers are more expensive than ever yet weigh less than the weekend junk mail in my letter box.
I don’t want newspapers to die.
Industry mouthpieces will tell us they’re technically not dying. They’re ‘evolving’.
Newspapers will still exist, just not as we know them.
I want to help keep newspapers alive. As we know them now. Maybe one day they will even be restored to their former glory.
And, so, my husband and I continue to buy classified ads when the occasion calls. We started what we hoped would become a tradition of placing Fathers and Mothers day notices for each other when our first child was born.
Each year we’ve paid around $50 for a few centimetres of text that we cut out and stick in a scrapbook.
This year, the price has gone up.
I just paid $180 to publish nine words. This is a country newspaper by the way, not a metro.
I don’t know who can afford that sort of money. I certainly can’t.
I’ll buy a few extra copies of the paper this weekend so I can snip out that overpriced box of text and glue it down for posterity. But that will be the last time.
Our tradition has come to an end. Sorry.