I stopped the subscription to our local paper a few years ago, mainly due to the fact that I rarely had a chance to read it. I took some of the money I spent on a daily newspaper and spent it on a subscription to the journals First Things and Touchstone. Yet, while both journals are excellent reads, I have since cancelled both subscriptions. I find that, for the most part, I can get to an article of interest via the web. And it is certainly easier to access news via the internet, as opposed to waiting 24 hours for it to appear in newsprint.
The medium-sized metropolitan dailies are a throwback to the 20th century, and as far as I can see, they're coasting almost entirely on the inertia of older readers who continue reading them out of habit. When I picked up my morning paper, I was struck by how old and shallow the news I found there was. With Google News, I get fresh news just minutes after it happens, and if I'm particularly interested in a story, I can skim reports from a dozen different news outlets.
News. News used to occur when it arrived.
On January 24, 1848, gold was discovered in California (actually, it was first discovered in California several years earlier, but that's a different story). Yet the plethora of miners, stricken with gold fever, were not given the nickname "48'ers." It would take the rest of 1848 for news of the gold discovery to make its way back to the East. Primitive modes of travel would force many to wait until early 1849 to make their trek to California. Hence, 49'ers for a 48'er bit of news.
News. Now news is expected to occur as it happens.
We want the news now. We want to read about it now, we want to hear about it now, and we want to see it now. And if it is yesterday's news, we will deem it less important. Last week's news? Passe.
Despite the benefit of having instant access to news across the world, we should not - we must not - lose sight of our place in a historical context. Past generations understood their place as that of merely present tense - present tense after a long line of very historical events.