Why you should stop what you are doing and subscribe to your local paper.

I mean it. Right now. You can even do it while sitting in front of your computer. I can wait.

You want reasons? Okay here are a few.

  • Newspapers are having trouble making the digital transition. For the most part, reading things on the internet is free, but the ad revenue generated from internet ad sales does not begin to meet traditional sources of ad revenue. While most newspapers are available in online form they aren’t the presence they have traditionally been in their paper form.
  • The ad revenue in print sources pays for the reporters who have the time to do the investigations about issues that are important to your life. Issues that you didn’t know you cared about until they are reported on. Coming this Sunday, the Oregonian will publish a report about placing foster children with relatives in other countries. The reporters’ work led directly to a moratorium placed on this practice.
  • Newspapers are an essential part of creating community. Do you want to know what is going on in your town, city or state in the government, entertainment or sports? The newspaper has the answer.
  • Reading newspapers makes you sound smart. Can I talk intelligently about the proposal to bring Major League Soccer to Portland? Yes. Why is that? Because I’ve read every article about the issue that was published in the Oregonian, Willamette Week and Portland Mercury.
  • Reading the newspaper introduces you to so many cool things. I can’t tell you how often someone has said to me, “How did you even hear about that?” and the answer is always that it was something I read in the newspaper.

Excuses I don’t want to hear:

  • I don’t agree with the political opinions of my newspaper. Okay stop. I grew up wildly liberal and reading the Idaho Statesman, which does not fit anywhere close to the definition of liberal print media. I disagreed with most of the editorials, their coverage of education and half to three-quarters of the letters to the editor. I still found out incredible amounts about what was going on in my community, as well as following the lives of the Patterson Family in For Better or for Worse.
  • I don’t have time to read my newspaper. I didn’t say you have to read the newspaper, just subscribe to it. You know those micro-loans that are so successful in third world countries? Think of your subscription as that. Ad revenue is based on the number of subscribers, not on the number of subscribers who read the paper. And really, you don’t have time to read even one section? Even the fluffy section? Please.
  • Newspapers waste too many resources. All that paper is expensive and needs to be recycled and I don’t want to do it. This is true. It may waste much fewer resources to read things online. But, quite frankly, online newspapers aren’t very good. Oregonlive.com, the Oregonian’s website recently had an upgrade. It is now simply bad instead of maddeningly frustrating. Like I said above, newspapers are having a tough time making the digital transition. Once they have and are okay, you can discontinue your paper subscription and cease the odious task recycling mounds of paper. Until then, buck up and buy some carbon offsets or something. Also, if you are that person above who doesn’t read the paper, recycling becomes much easier.
  • I can’t afford it. Yes, yes, times are tough. But as a former colleague once remarked, “I can’t believe you can get all that stuff in one paper and it only costs fifty cents.” It is a marvel. My monthly subscription is $13.95, which is about the same price as a movie and popcorn. For that I get untold hours of reading enjoyment and grumbling, not to mention the side bonus of being well-informed.
  • I don’t really care. You should. For all the reasons pointed out above and in the This Modern World Cartoon from 03/03/09. Remember that trained journalist make a difference.

So don’t delay. Subscribe today. Now. I’m not kidding. Do it.