I've never subscribed to the Birmingham News, but rain or shine, I pick it up on my Sunday morning walk if I stop in at Western or the Texaco. When I don't walk, I cross the street to the vending machine in front of Dreamland BBQ by Phelan Park.
My coffee close at hand, I separate the pieces in the order I intend to read them:
- Ads and coupons on top,
- Comics next after tearing off that annoying advertising appendage and discarding it along with the sports and real estate sections that I never read.
- Parade, then Lifestyle
- Play which contains the tv guide, and which I hate. We once had a separate tv-guide until some bright person improved it (note: it is not an improvement). Now, I have to cut away the extraneous never-to-be read again stuff and staple the then loose TV-guide pages for future reference during the week.
- Local, then Money
- Front page section is usually just various bad news,except in fall and winter when it is always Alabama football, and then I ignore it all together. You'd think the sports section is big enough for this non-news of a game watched by everyone who cared and they all know who won.
- Jobs classified is now tucked in behind a page covered in car ads, but at least I'm forewarned - in Bold solid caps on top I am told "EMPLOYMENT SECTION INSIDE"..
In the twenty years I've lived in Birmingham, I've read the paper every Sunday. I even buy it on major holidays in spite of the fact they jack up the price to Sunday rates. They say it's to pay for the ads. Excuse me, but didn't the advertisers pay for those ads. Why should I have to pay more to be advertised to.
Slowly but surely, the Birmingham News has devolved. Perhaps it's the economic times, but I would think they would give instead of take to keep us and garner new readers. Such is not the case.
This Sunday, as I sipped my coffee and began disassembling and reassembling my paper, I thought it was defective. There was a page missing from my comics. There were four pages instead of six. I thought, well mistakes happen. I'll borrow my neighbors later - vending machines don't do exchanges.
Then I read Tom Scarritt on page 1F, and here I found out that I didn't have a defective comic section. The section had been reduced to four pages from six, but I still had to trim off the ubiquitous ad.
That was the last straw. The Birmingham Sunday paper is not what it used to be, and this past Sunday's may well be the last I ever buy. Two Dollars is too much to spend on so little. I might buy the NYTimes, or the Atlanta Constitution for an occasional Sunday fix, get my TV-Guide on-line, my comics from Chicago Times.com.
Curling up with a laptop (eventually, an ipad) on the couch isn't quite the same, but the content is more satisfying. I'll miss print, but such is life.
(c) Perle Champion