Steven Heller | Essays

Confessions of a Frustrated Newsprint Lover

Photo by Antoine Walter on Flickr.

I give up. I’ve held on devotedly to newsprint as long as humanly possible but I recently reached the point where my loyalty gave way to expedience.

It came after spending a week in Paris with The International New York Times, a handsome extension of the domestic NYT with the perk of comics. It is also printed on finer newsprint than the NYT, smooth to the touch, which makes a delightful crinkling noise as the pages are folded. Oh, yes — it is larger, too — like the size that the original once was. What could be better?

It couldn’t be worse, experientially speaking.

I’ve gotten so used to the domestic product once its width became incrementally reduced, that I’ve forgotten the skill necessary to fold a broadsheet. And even if I could master it all over again, the world has gotten more crowded and the available public space needed to open and fold the International edition has shrunk considerably. The INYT is not made for tiny Parisian café tables. And I’m not made for the INYT.

Opening and trying to refold the paper is like attempting to unfold one of those canvas retro beach chairs that you might see in a Jacques Tati film. Picture Monsieur Hulot wrestling with the INYT and you know who wins. It is not pretty. And it is humiliating.

True, folding challenges are a small price to pay for the joy and privilege of handling that beautifully massive collection of paper pages. But the embarrassment of incompetence in public is not worth the psychic cost. I am still scarred by the Parisian sitting to the left of me, daintily turning the pages of his smaller Le Figaro. And then there is that American lout in the corner, snickering with his more manageable USA Today. I’m ten times the standard newspaper reader, and reading ten times the newspaper. And feeling self-conscious about folding ineptitude.

So, call me a coward! A traitor! A wussy liberal! I’ve had all the disgrace I can stomach. I quit! A bientôt printed INYT, and bonjour app. Oversized broadsheets be damned. There is strength in tablets.

Posted in: Arts + Culture, Media

Comments [2]

Steve--Do you think you'll skip the transitional laptop phase and go right to reading it on your phone?
Gunnar Swanson

Too extreme for me. I'm still using a land line with extra long extension cord.
Steven Heller

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