Reading The Newspaper

I have a confession to make. I have never, ever read a newspaper. Not really. When I was a kid, I’d read the comics. When I was a teenager, I’d read the advice and opinion pages (and also the comics). But I never read the actual news. Since I moved out of my parents’ house, I’ve never even bought a newspaper, except for when our engagement announcement was published, and a couple of times when family members were featured in articles or photos.

There are two reasons for this. One, I dislike our local newspaper’s editorial slant. Two, I find experiencing the news, in any format, depressing. I don’t watch any news programs except The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (real news, but funny enough not to be depressing) and the CBS Sunday morning show (human interest stories are more palatable).
But recently, a sequence of events fell into motion that caused me to rethink my newspaper embargo.
First came my frustration with the time I was wasting on Facebook. I’d check it multiple times a day, despite the fact that most of my Facebook friends do not post regularly, and I ended up reading the same posts over and over again. It was an addiction, and it was wasted time, and I hate both of those things, so I cut myself off. Now I only allow myself to check it after 8:00 at night. I guess I wasn’t as addicted as I thought, because this simple change hasn’t been painful at all. What’s more, it opened up a few pockets of free minutes, mostly in the early mornings and at lunchtime. So I decided to replace my Facebook time with something more educational. I started reading CNN and the Huffington Post, but neither of those were completely satisfactory, so one morning I wandered over to the New York Times page. And I made a discovery.
I love the New York Times!
Actually, what I love is the New York Times app on my iPad. Show me a copy of the actual paper, with its tiny printing and overwhelming assortment of articles, and my eyes glaze over. But on the app, the paper is organized beautifully, the print is a decent size, and they only show the first few lines of each article, so I can choose what to click on and what to ignore. I visit every section and find the articles that interest me. And I already feel like my world of knowledge has expanded. Today I read about a teacher who is challenging a computerized grading system for student exams; how exercise has been proven to increase brainpower in mice; why the travel agent industry is experiencing a resurgence; and a fascinating opinion on the shifting meaning of language and how that relates to the Constitution. And that was just during a 5-minute lunch break!
In fact, the morning after I signed up for the subscription (an offer for an educator’s discount had just appeared in my in-box not two days after I reached my limit on free articles) I was offered firm proof that I have been missing out by not reading the news. It was early Sunday morning and I was food shopping at my favorite grocery store. I was planning to go to the gym later, so I had on my gym clothes, and as it happened, my Yankees cap. The man at the fish counter got excited when he saw my hat and wanted to talk about Saturday night’s Yankees-Red Sox game. Now I hadn’t seen the game, but I had read all about it in the sports section of the Times not an hour before, so I was able to hold up my end of a happy conversation about an amazing comeback and the skills of Nick Swisher. Which means that on my very first morning, the Times saved both my dignity and my Yankees fandom status.
So if you run into me at a party or other social event and want to small talk, watch out- I know a lot of interesting facts now, and I’m not afraid to use them!

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