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Beverly Beckham

The case for real newspapers

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/File

I stopped getting my newspaper delivered mid-winter because it was easier to read the news online than to put on a coat and boots and trudge through the snow to get it.

So for five months, I’ve been getting most of my news electronically. What I like is that it’s easy and immediate. Click and you’re informed. Sort of. But I’m going back to a real, wonderfully old-fashioned, you-can-use-it-after-you’ve-read-it (to clean windows, pack away dishes, train the puppy), no-wi-fi-required, paper-and-ink paper, and here are six reasons why:

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1) I am going back to a real paper because I am sick of “6 reasons why. . . ,” and “The 12 Things You Need to Know at 12 o’clock,” and the “Ten Things You Should Be Talking About Today,” and all the other repetitive celebrity/food/exercise related lists that pass themselves off as “news” on the Net: “15 Stages Every Groom Goes Through”; “8 Healthy, Easy-to-Prepare Recipes”; “25 Questions About Michael Sam, the NFL and Homophobia.”

2) I am going back to a real paper because online the rules of grammar and punctuation don’t apply. Numbers are supposed to be written out if they begin a sentence. “Twelve things you need to know today.” But they are not, most of the time. “Your invited.” “Whose coming?” “None are.” “People that.” “The dog was laying on the floor.” No one is checking these things. Bring on some copy editors, please!

3) I am going back to a real paper because online, you have to watch a commercial before reading a story. Or put up with pop-up ads while you’re trying to read. Or watch a commercial and then put up with pop-up ads, too, which now have sound. Sometimes you’re required to fill out a form to join a site, even though all you want is to read a single story. And some sites require too much personal information, not just where you’re located. And then they blast you with e-mails every day, sending a slew of stories you don’t want to read.

4) I am going back to a real paper because I miss good writing. A few weeks ago, I read a story that described President Obama with a phrase that includes the word “kick” and is defined by the Urban Dictionary as “cool.” That just doesn’t do it for me. As the good nuns used to say, “Can’t you think of a better word?” Vulgar and imprecise are everywhere online, and they are getting old.

5) I am going back to a real paper because I don’t like the intrusiveness of someone or some thing reading over my virtual shoulder. “People who like this article liked this article, too.” “People who like this site, liked this site.” Wait a minute. I don’t want cyberspace connecting the dots for me.

What I like [about getting news electronically] is that it’s easy and immediate. Click and you’re informed. Sort of.

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6) And I am going back to a real paper because “The trick to remove red wine stain” and “Wife Stuns Husband with a Makeover” should not come at a person in the same bold headlines and with the same urgency as “Explosion Kills Hundreds.”

This is just plain wrong.

The Internet isn’t all gab and fluff and lists. But much of it is. And a lot of what passes as news simply isn’t.

Beverly Beckham can be reached at beverlybeckham@me.com.
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