My youngest son has taken to asking me questions. And, since he’s my son, I find them infinitely interesting and they make me think. He isn’t really cognizant of my blogging at present nor do I find it necessary for him to know. After all, what I write about, isn’t of general interest; I’m nerd folk Still I like to think that on some far off distant day he finds this on the Internet and knows that Dad actually listened.

I’ve been a reader of print newspapers all my life but I only got serious about it when I changed my major in college from mechanical engineering to management. One of my first professors, intro to accounting, said to all of us in class “If you’re a serious student of business then you read the Wall Street Journal” and, to this very day, I read the Wall Street Journal. I don’t always read every page but I try to at least skim it. Sometimes it might take me a week or more to get to a back log of papers but I do actually get there.

Now my son looks at me, reading a physical paper, and I suspect he thinks something like this”

  • Why?
  • They just get thrown out
  • You have an iPad
  • Behind the times Dad, behind the times
  • They’re expensive
  • It’s not customized to what you care about

And in some ways he is definitely right. The Wall Street Journal is expensive. And it isn’t searchable and, as a physical artifact, it has tons of problems. But the broadsheet newspaper format has evolved over literally hundreds of years to its present form. And I would argue that the broadsheet

  • Is the fastest way to come up to speed on an knowledge domain that changes constantly (i.e. Daily news)
  • Doesn’t limit me to only information that agrees with me; that’s vitally important in this world of micro-focused content. No one should only read about things that agree with them. Example - I may or may not like either Hillary or Donald but as an informed citizen I should know the issues for each so that any decision I make come November is actually an informed one. Ever since I’ve followed Twitter aggressively I can see both the pros and cons of a world where you only follow things that agree with you and what a damn echo chamber it can be.
  • It keeps me informed in a knowledge domain that I can talk to literally anyone about. Much of what I actually care about in this world is so bloody obscure(1) that who in the real (i.e. physical) world am I ever going to discuss it with?
  • The more responsible you are, and I’m a husband and father who internalized catholic(2) levels responsibility back when I was in single digits, I find it all the more important to keep up to date on things.
  • A good newspaper, say the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, even today is still tremendously well written and like anyone who writes, I can appreciate a well written bit of content whether or not I’m explicitly interested in the topic.

Footnotes:

  1. Example - Ruby / Rails / Elixir / Open Source / AWS. I live in Indiana. Most folks here don’t know what any of that is and the chance of discussing pros and cons of functional programming with anyone I know in the real world except for Steve Grossi ranges from slim to none. And he and I don’t run in the same social circles.
  2. I was raised episcopalian or the closet thing to Catholic since episcopal means “American version of Church of England”. Anyway as a husband and father, I view it as my role to understand what’s going on in the world and be able to explain things like “Dad - what is ISIS?”.