Monday marked a major event in the history of America. My daily Philadelphia Inquirer cost a dollar for the first time in my life, raising the price a quarter per day. I've had a daily newspaper (or two) delivered to my home every day since I was a kid. It's only now that I have begun to question the wisdom of it.
Many years ago, I thought people would give up smoking when cigarettes began costing a dollar a pack. Now that they are over 7 dollars a pack, I not only question smokers' decisions, but my own perception of how intelligent cigarette smokers are. I am certain that there are cigarette smokers who think I'm a dope for paying a dollar for a newspaper.
They're still a bargain, the newspapers. On a monetary basis, they provide hours of entertainment and we are free to choose to read all of it or none of it. But they have lost some of their clout because the immediacy of the Internet has rendered some (or all) of their content as irrelevant as the evening news broadcast. We sit at work or at home and read the headlines on our computers a day before they are reported in our daily newspapers.
When I think back on my childhood, I marvel at the idea that the news we got was either seen as immediate by being broadcast on the six o'clock news or relatively immediate by appearing in the next day's newspaper. Either way, we were happy to be able to see reports from Vietnam on television or read about yesterday's non-televised baseball game in our Evening Bulletin sports section.
I wonder how much we suffered and what ill-informed boobs we were because we didn't know about something that happened during our lunch hour because our friends didn't post it on their Facebook page.
Maybe what we have now is information overload or the result of what some refer to as the "24/7 News Cycle." Whatever it is, I don't know if we are happier now because we know something immediately than we were then when it took a day or so to find out something. The only time we knew something immediately was when a president was shot or a spacecraft exploded. Now, we know that one of the Kardashians is on a diet five minutes after she puts it on her Twitter page. Is more information necessarily better?
When I was a kid, the evening TV news (and TV in general) was free and the evening newspaper was ten cents. Now, cable TV, Internet service and cell phones are costly bills we pay each month.
Are we getting what we are paying for?