Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Newspaper Hero Of The Day

And He's Only In Eighth Grade

First things first. Newspaper publishers should find a way to clone Mitchell Walsh, and fast.
Here's a 13-year-old kid from Michigan who loves to read newspapers, particularly the Detroit Free Press.
So, imagine how he reacted when told the Freep and the Detroit News will roll the dice on their future and now only be home-delivered on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The rest of the week you have to go buy the paper or read an ostensibly expanded digital version.
But Mitchell is having none of that. As he wrote on Poynter Online (where his grandfather Bill Mitchell, a former Free Press scribe is diretor): "On weekday mornings, I don't think I will find the time in the middle of the rush to school to search online for the latest news. To me a morning without a newspaper is like an adult without his coffee."
That means the Walsh family is going to have a teenager who's grumpier than usual four days a week.
Mitchell's getting an up-close-and-personal lesson in the sorry science of newspaper economics. Nonetheless, you can't fault him if he has trouble understanding why his faith and devotion to the Free Press is not being reciprocated.

On the winter days when I take out my dog, I slip on my boots, shrug on my coat and trudge down the driveway ... I see a small lump of snow. I pick it up, shake it off and begin the icy climb up the driveway. Once inside, my curiosity takes control. I rip off the clear plastic bag and only then do I see the only good part of getting up at 6:00 a.m.: A freshly printed, crisply folded, daily edition of the Detroit Free Press.

The more cynical of you could simply view this kid as a media savant. But what he really represents is the last vestige of a strong family tradition where everyone read a newspaper, which Mitchell writes is still very much part of the daily routine in the Walsh household.
The problem is, for many reasons that have been well-documented, that became less so in many other homes. I'd hazard a guess that if Mitchell were to poll his classmates about who got a daily paper at home, well over half would answer no.
If you don't see your parents reading a paper, chances are you won't either.
So, it's tragic when a family like Mitchell's actually does want a paper, it won't always be there for them.
It might be time for Mitchell to instead invest in a New York Times subscription. It delivers in the Detroit suburbs --- seven days a week.

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