I was going to write a post yesterday about my Sunday excursion to Ikea. I was going to write about the lengths I went to in order to get my paws on a stock pot reduced from a dazzling $24.99 to $9.99.Â I may not be a big shopper, but I'm a big soup maker and that 11-quart baby had my name all over it. I was going to blog about how we got there too early but yet just in time to get our coupons for the pots before they ran out. About how we had to line up just to get into the store and how it was pure insanity but yet there was free breakfast. Free breakfast! Then I saw this news yesterday -- that The Ann Arbor News will cease publication in July -- and I got completely sidetracked. I got that "end is nigh" feeling one gets. Or, at least, that this one gets.
I'm not naive. I know how bad things have been getting for newspapers in recent years. In fact, if anything, I have a glut of awareness about it. I suppose by some stretch of the imagination, I once qualified as a journalist. I am married to a journalist who is a refugee from the increasingly myopic and skeletal world of daily newspaper reporting. I'm lousy with friends -- in this country and abroad -- in the biz, many of them increasingly concerned with their own job prospects and all of them concerned about the future of theirÂ industry as a whole. I have absolutely nothing new or insightful to add on that front.
It's just that when Newhouse decided to shut down The Ann Arbor News, everything got a lot more uncomfortable. Maybe it's the small-town effect -- ripples are felt more strongly here. I know people who work for this newspaper, people whose lives have been completely upset at a junction in their career where prospects are, let's face it, dim. (Employees have apparently been told they can apply for positions with the website that will replace the paper.) It feels a like the black death we've heard tell of finally started claiming bodies in my own back yard.
I never thought I'd live in a place that didn't have a daily newspaper. I also, suppose, that on some extremely Pollyanna level, I'd hoped that a tightknit, somewhat progressive, highly involved community like Ann Arbor would be one of the last bastions for this tradition.
But here comes the most difficult part, the confession: it's sort of my fault. You see, I'm one of those people who loves the idea of a newspaper as beacon of the community -- but who didn't read the paper very often. I'm one of those people who already get the bulk of their news online and, frankly, whose days won't actually be changed very much.
A deeper confession: my internet leanings weren't the only reason I didn't read The Ann Arbor News. Truth is -- with all due respect to those who worked their asses off to get it out each afternoon -- I didn't much love it as a newspaper. I'm realizing now how much I loved the idea of it being there, though. Kind of like when your innocuous ex gets married and you realize how much you liked the idea of them just being out there. Or maybe it's not like that at all. I don't know. Sigh.
So, Ann Arbor News: I'm sorry I wasn't a better friend. I'm sorry I wasn't a subscriber and I'm sorry I wasn't a reader. I wish I'd known what it would feel like to hear it's curtains for you. It's not like I didn't see the writing on the wall. It's just that I didn't do anything about it. And I wish I could say that if I had, I would have done things differently. It's just that I'm not sure that's true. And I'm not sure it would have made a difference.