by Gary Sanders
Today’s print Des Moines Register includes a notice that as of March 12 there will be no more print Des Moines Register on Saturdays.
Even as I type this it staggers me. This is a newspaper that not very long ago was read all over Iowa, and still has a stellar national reputation–the Register has won 16 Pulitzer Prizes! I know that this was a necessary business decision, but it’s still hard to take.
For many, many years the Register proudly placed at the top of page one “The Newspaper Iowa Depends Upon.”But a few years ago I noticed that it now read “The News Iowa Depends Upon.” Paper was on the way out.
My birthday wish as I turn 75 this year is to get print newspapers delivered to me when I shuffle off to the nursing home. But, like a lot of birthday wishes, I don’t think this one will come true. Print newspapers will end sooner than that.
I know that there are much bigger problems in the world than the end of print newspapers. But I’ve been addicted to them since I was a kid reading the comics in the Detroit Free Press. I wrote for my junior high, high school, and college newspapers. I wrote a column for the Iowa City Press-Citizen 1987-1990, back when the paper was about 10 times bigger, and people actually read it. And before and after my years of column writing I wrote a lot of op-eds and letters to the editor, copies of which are floating around my apartment somewhere.
I know I’m a little crazy, but I think about Johannes Gutenberg inventing the printing press around 1440 in Germany and how it changed the world. I think about Tom Paine’s pamphlet “Common Sense”, which was distributed throughout the colonies in early 1776, and pushed public opinion to the side of those who wanted to declare independence from England. I think about the new book I’m reading “The Correspondents,” the story of six American women newspaper/magazine writers breaking gender barriers covering World War II to write articles for the anxious people at home.
I think about the early 1970’s with Woodward and Bernstein, and I think about the multitude of great writers I’ve read in the Register since I moved here in 1978. The Register still has great writers. I look forward to reading it every morning.
But as of March 12 I won’t be reading it on Saturdays.