By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES —Ah, newspapers. I read ‘em, write ‘em, frame ‘em, exercise with them, clean, garden, start fires, recycle and get crafty with them. They enrich and document our lives from cradle to crave. I hope we find a way to keep them going, in print, as well as cyberspace.
It’s become a routine: I get my copy of the Las Cruces Sun-News and head for the health club. I read it while I‘m on the treadmill, then I divide it into sections and use it instead of towels while I work out the circuit-training machines. Then I toss the paper in the recycling bins in the Sun-News parking lot.
An interesting note: Richard B. Scudder, chairman of our parent company MediaNews Group, earned his laurels as a newspaper recycling superstar as coinventor of the de-inking process that has been used in the manufacture of millions of tons of recycled newsprint.
Since my 20s (back in the Jurassic Age), I’ve been telling career day classes that I expect to outlive newspapers as we know them, and I don’t come of long-lived stock.
I figure that prediction came true nearly a decade ago, as much of the news business moved online. I love the range and flexibility and immediacy that has given us, but I must confess I hope the print product can hang in there for at least another decade, especially in places like Las Cruces, where we have a sizable Baby Boomer-and-beyond population.
And frankly, I’ve enjoyed sharing with my grandchild all the wonders of newspapers that you just can’t get online.
Sometimes, it’s a matter of record, I thought, as I collected a bunch of front pages from local and regional newspapers on the day Barack Obama was inaugurated and put them in an airtight container to pass on to Alex and maybe, his kids and grandkids someday. Newspapers could also be a sound investment — online prices for some editions skyrocketed within a day, I noticed.
I have friends who create a little archival package for newborns on their birthday or do Internet searches for newspapers published on the day, and if possible the place, or a loved one’s birth or marriage. The older the recipient, the rarer and more appreciated is the gift, she’s found.
There’s something about the real thing, framed or lamenated: birth and wedding announcements, a scrapbook of a budding thespian’s or a high school sports hero’s achievements, a news or feature story documenting a loved one’s honors, even a final obituary, that just would not be the same in any other medium. Hidden away on CDs, printouts from an online Web site ... somehow just don’t cut it in the historical artifact category.
Newspapers in print form are fun and comforting in so many ways. After you’ve read them, clipped and preserved what you want, you can even enjoy a little interactive activity — could Soduku and crossword puzzles ever be as much fun online? Do you real want to curl up in bed with your laptop or schlepp it along everytime you take a walk to the park, the beach or your neighborhood coffee shop, let alone on vacation?
And when you’re finished, those newspapers are useful for a lot more than lining bird or hamster cages, training puppies or wrapping fish and chips.
Consider our gardens: Newspaper can be folded into little containers for starting seedlings, which decompose nicely after planting. Shredded newspaper is useful in compost heaps and vital in projects like worm farming.
Use them as kindling for fires, or form them into more substantial fuel with tight rolling and a little water.
Fresh off the press, they are said to be handy as a clean surface if you have to deliver a baby in a traffic jam or someplace else where it’s not possible to boil water.
They are also great for polishing windows and chrome.
They’re cheap, handy padding when you’re packing to move or shipping gifts.
And they can be stylish gift wrapping, too. Wrap a kid’s gift in the Sunday comic section. With black ribbon or cord, even black and white sections can create a sophisticated package.
As we showed you in a recent feature, you can make kites out of newspapers. And most of us already know how to transform newspapers into hats and paper airplanes.
Ah, newspapers. I hope we find a way to keep them going, in print, as well as cyberspace.
In the interest of ecumenical multimedia cooperation, I did a little online research and discovered sites that will show you how to make all kinds of things out of newspaper, from beads and furniture to weapons, dancing dollies, handbags and decoupaged boots.
You get the idea — and if you have more ideas, please send ‘em along and I’ll include them in a future column (online and in print).
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at email@example.com