Today was National Buy a Newspaper Day and, like most days, I bought several. I don’t expect much of a spike in readership, but it’s a nice idea.
Now, if somebody were to come up with National Buy a Newspaper Ad Day, we might be onto something.
Anyway, given that the day is what it is, I’d like to share a short glimpse of the part newspapers played in the formative years of this country. They weren’t like the papers of today. Most were fiercely partisan. But they were also indispensable. Ralph Waldo Emerson testifies:
Look into the morning trains, which, from every suburb, carry the business men into the city to their shops, counting rooms, work-yards and warehouses. With them enters the car — the newsboy, that humble priest of politics, finance, philosphy and religion. He unfolds his magical sheets, — twopence a head, his magical bread of knowledge costs — and instantly the entire rectangular assembly, fresh from their breakfast, are bending as one man to their second breakfast. (Complete Works of Emerson, 1878, p. 218).
Reading this, I can’t help but think of the last morning ride I had on a subway, when I looked up the rows and saw every head bowed in just about the same way — over a Blackberry or iPhone.