The Sunday PaperOne of the great pleasures of my youth was climbing onto my Dad's lap and having him read the "funnies" to me. Those sessions - I suppose we'd call them bonding sessions today - grew into the adult pleasure of climbing into a comfy chair and reading the Sunday newspaper. A little soft sunlight filtering in. Perhaps a nice cup of coffee or a special breakfast. There are lots of ways to turn this all-American treat into a special time.
But times, as they say, have changed.
Today, no matter how comfy the chair or delicious the coffee, the Sunday paper isn't what it used to be. Gone are the nuanced articles on world affairs. The little end of column, quirky, two-inch stories don't cover odd man-bites-dog-stories anymore. They've been replaced by stories that depressingly shrink bank robberies with automatic weapons to common news. Feature stories, once a Sunday staple, have turned away from celebrations of interesting people to descriptions of life-changing struggles because of religious dogma.
Sure, things weren't all sweetness and light back then. We had war coverage, but it was only one war. This morning's paper brings news of the many active and soon-to-be-active wars. Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Lebanon, and all the rest that are too far away or not of sufficient interest to warrant even the old two-inch treatment.
Newspapers' stock and trade has always been bad news. It's fitting that bad news interests us and hopefully, outrages us. People in harm's way are infinitely more important than sports or the marriage of the latest celebrity du jour. However, a little personal enrichment is necessary too. If for nothing else but the strength it provides to carry on in the face of the relentlessly bad news.
I still cling to the shreds of Sunday papers past. I still seek out the feature stories and book reviews. I even find a little comfort in the "funnies". Although I regret it, I know that my daughter was probably the last generation to climb up in Dad's lap on a Sunday morning to learn about the world.
And that's very sad.
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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, July 16, 2006