Breaking an obsolete habit

I have subscribed to one paper or another since I moved out of my house in 1978, and my parents subscribed to two dailies before that. Every day — sometimes twice a day — a paper would show up on my doorstep or dorm mailbox. I even had my hometown paper mailed to me when I spent a summer in Vermont as a college kid, working in a summer camp. I’ve never lived without a daily, print newspaper, even though I’ve worked in digital media for more than 20 years.

Today I canceled my weekday print subscription to The Washington Post. For a few years now, weekday papers have been little more than recycling fodder for me — I read the paper online, but my wife has preferred the physical newspaper. But even her habits have changed — and that, combined with the Post’s escalating costs, pushed us to make this decision.

It’s odd for me. I’ll have a digital subscription so I’m still helping to pay for the journalism I’m reading. I still enjoy the casualness of reading a weekend paper, so I’m keeping the Saturdays and Sundays as well (and the Sunday New York Times).

But this still feels like a little betrayal. From the time I was in kindergarten until the time my computer hobby became a viable career, all I wanted to do was work for a newspaper. I got that experience for 14 years, and in that time I covered everything from night cops to the White House — with a stint of editing mixed in.

But I changed, and my reading habits changed long ago. I’ve never been one for nostalgia, which too often feels like the banana peel in front of the grave, and I’m not going to get all nostalgic about this decision. It’s a practical one.


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