Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Dad's Newspaper

Everyone’s been buzzing here in C-town about the Yahoo News article last week predicting the impending death of our local paper. According to the article, the Plain Dealer will be shut or go digital by the end of next year. When I think about the newspaper, my mind automatically wanders to thoughts about my father-in-law. I think about what the newspaper, the printing press and the printed word have meant to him throughout his lifetime.

My father-in-law, Dad to me, worked for many years as a stripper. My husband tells me that he used to get a kick out of telling the other kids at school that his Dad was a stripper. For those of you not familiar with the non-explicit meaning of that word, a stripper was part of the prepress process. In the most simple terms, a stripper’s job was to piece together and position negative or positive film on layout sheets to fit in designated areas of film flat. Stripping – at least by this definition – is nearly extinct. The world has gone digital and today, an entire newspaper page, complete with artwork and graphics, can be created using a computer – exactly as it will appear in print – no stripping required.

Dad’s still in the printing business, but in a completely different role. However, he and the paper have always been connected. Every morning, he gets up, goes to get the paper, has a cup of tea and reads it cover to cover. He spends his morning pulling out the sports section to share with his sons, rifling through the sale fliers, just in case there is something to share with his wife, cutting out interesting tidbits about current events or anything culinary-related for me. Every day, 365 days a year, this is an integral part of his morning routine.

He recently saved the front page of his beloved newspaper for my 10-year old daughter. It was the day President Obama was inaugurated. Dad made her promise to keep it in a safe place and told her he still had the front page from when President Kennedy was assassinated. He told her to treasure it because it would be a little piece of history someday. I don’t think he realized that statement would have a double meaning quite so soon.

I wonder what will happen to his morning routine without that paper. The paper and Dad have a history – a connection of sorts. It has been a part of his livelihood and a part of his every-day life for over 40 years. He’s recently taken to text messaging. I wonder if he’ll read his newspaper online. . .

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