THE BLOG

You Can Pry My New York Times from My Cold, Dead Hands

05/08/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I used to like Michael Kinsley. But I guess he is well and truly fully Microsofted now, as evidenced by his op-ed in the Washington Post on why it's OK for big newspapers to go out of business.

This topic has been getting a great deal of what used to be called "ink" lately, and the battle lines are clearly drawn. On one side are the Luddites who savor the experience of holding a newspaper, turning the pages, coming across information they hadn't been looking for, watching papers pile up and hauling them to the recycling. (I made up that last part).

On the other side is possibly you, dear Reader, who perhaps gets more of your news from the Huffington Post than from the Old Grey Lady, or any other dead tree edition. You get the news you want in the flicker of a screen and the blink of an eyelash. People read differently online. Information comes at you faster, and you can jump from place to place a lot quicker than turning from the front page to page A27. Confining your news intake to what's between the pages of a single newspaper is like forcing 90% of computer users to put up with just one operating system. Wait, let me try that again.

If you, like Michael Kinsley, subscribe to the Bright Shiny Object school of history and are looking forward to a gadget that allows newspapers to exist "not on paper," perhaps you're not bothered by this period of transition. You know what you want to know and you want to know what you mostly already know. You're a hedgehog, not a fox.

Besides, it take so long to read a damn newspaper. Who has the time? Why can't they just twitter the news?

Because it rots your brain, that's why. Nine out of ten pundits agree (well, me and eight of my friends) that no matter what you do for a living, reading the newspaper every day will help you do it better.

So here's my solution. Make newspaper reading mandatory in the workplace. Set aside a half hour every morning for quiet time reading the paper. (Milk and cookies are optional). No twittering, no email, no excuses. There will be a quiz later.

Sites like this one, blogs and online newspapers are exciting, liberating, and incredibly lucrative (I made that last part up) but they don't come in handy plastic bags ideal for dog-walking, and you can't buy them from coin boxes or blind old men sitting in little huts. I'm sure there are other reasons why newspapers are important, but I haven't updated my Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter site in minutes, and I gotta go.