Why you shouldn't read print

Since moving to Boulder I’ve actually started picking up the local free newspaper each day, but I’m over it. Why? I read it online and believe it’s the cheapest, easiest way of helping the environment – even easier than all that other recycling we do.

In Australia to get a paper you need to visit a newsagent, or the train station – basically have a human interaction. But here in the US, there are a plethora of newsboxes (I dunno what they’re actually called) all around the place – everywhere – carrying an assortment of daily newspapers, catalogues, classifieds. Almost anything! Many of them are free, and those that aren’t are cheap to buy. The Daily Camera is only 50c (the Sunday edition is $1). You put the money in the slot and it lets you pull the handle open to grab your paper. While in Sydney we have about 4 generally available mass media newspapers, here there are at least twice that.

This seems great – it’s so convenient, there’s never a line for the paper, and it’s so cheap it’s easy to pick it up to read on the bus or whatever. And on a Sunday morning, you don’t have to make conversation.

That’s the big difference. The quality of news in these papers is shocking. The Colorado Daily is really crap. The writing is complete drivel. The topics are ridiculous. There is no real news. The best part is the comics. And even then, whomever is editing it sometimes runs the same comic two days or more straight. The Boulder Weekly, another free paper, is a bit better, but really – it’s a good thing they’re free. Nobody in their right mind would pay for this crap. The writing is grammatically incorrect, badly edited – it looks like a 4th grade paper. It’s simply not professional in any sense of the word, let alone ‘journalism’. Sort of like a cut down, free version of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

But that gets me on to ‘good quality’ print – you know, the stuff you expect to pay for. The real journalism.

The Daily Camera and The Rocky Mountain News, which are like Sydney’s Daily Telegraph in the ‘real’ sense, have been running subscription campaigns. Get it cheaper and you’ll save! Big frigging deal. I can read both of them online… for free!

And there’s nothing left of it when I’m done. No papers laying around to put in the recycling.

That’s the biggest deal of all – the environmental cost. The New York Times, one of the most respected newspapers in the world, is also available online. Consider this: 314 acres of trees are cut down for every single edition of the Sunday New York Times. 

314 acres. Gone. Because people like something tangible to hold with their coffee on Sundays; and then they chuck it out come Monday morning. 

For a world of people who are becoming more aware of global warming and all the associated issues of environmental catastrophes, surely we owe ourselves and our kids those 314 acres.

Join me. Demand great journalism from your traditional mastheads, but demand it online. Leave the paper on the trees where it belongs.


  • maybe the local papers are written by the 4th graders. A possible on-going school project. 😉

  • Your post resonates with me – recall first visit to US and my similar reaction to quality of most of the newspapers. OTOH that is also where I became addicted to Weekly World News ;P

  • I found the same thing when I visited… reams of paper getting chucked out left, right and center, plus poor to non-existent recycling services. Hope that’s improving since I was there. What rapacious little consumers humans are!

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