Daily newspapers across the land are in trouble. The parent company of the Los Angeles Times, for example, has entered into bankruptcy. An argument could be made that newspapers kill trees, cost too much, and leave ink on hands and noses. Advertising revenue makes up what little newspapers earn and advertisers are not buying space these days. A commentator this evening said that no one will suffer from a lack of news or information should newspapers go the way of, well, so many other things now extinct.
All of those things may be true. However, there's something about a daily newspaper that creates community.
Take The Toasted Bun, for example.
The Toasted Bun has been around for over fifty years. It's a dive of a coffee shop in Glendale, California. The walls aren't decorated with pictures of famous people but with pictures of regular customers. The place is always crowded with breakfast regulars. My picture isn't on the wall yet so apparently I'm not a regular. I go there often enough, though, to notice the sense of community centered around the morning paper.
Regulars who come in with their papers never leave with them. They don't just leave them on the table or counter, either. Oh, no.
Before those regulars even pay their tabs, they call out things like, "Who wants the sports section?" or "I got the front page here." Things like that.
Regulars sitting at the counter talk to each other about what they're reading in the morning paper. The only regulars who don't participate in this daily paper chatter routine are those who brought books to read.
Imagine what breakfast at The Toasted Bun would be like if there were no more daily papers. I just don't think the regulars would set up their laptops or offer views of whatever screen they had just pulled up on their Blackberries.