Love of the news-on-paper


By Janice Lindsay, Contributing Writer

Janice Lindsay writes about her 30 years as a newspaper columnist and her love of news-on-paper.
Janice Lindsay

This month marks thirty years since I began writing a freelance column for a local weekly newspaper from my home in Marlboro. 

Knowing that I’ve done anything for thirty years, and that I was a grown-up when I started, makes me wonder if I might be getting a little old. On the other hand, I’m still here, and the newspaper isn’t. 

I’ve been writing happily for the Community Advocate family of papers since the spring of 2000. 

Any community that still has a local newspaper, which I define as news-on-paper, is enormously lucky. Many don’t, as advertisers move toward online audiences and audiences move toward online news sources. In many communities, there is no longer any source at all, on paper or on screen, for truly local news, like town government, non-profit activities, high school sports, marriages, births.

I may be hopelessly retrograde, but I love a news-on-paper. It has a such lovely soft feel and a distinctive inviting inky papery smell. If you see an article you want to save, tear it out. You can separate the sections, so you can share the paper with someone else. You can safely read it in the bathtub. If you spill coffee on it, it still works. No power outlet required, no battery, no internet connection or app or password.

And – this is huge – a newspaper on paper reflects, by placement and size of articles, the editorial judgement by staff members who give serious thought to what is important. A glance at a page reveals their assessment. By contrast, when you read news online, articles are most often in a scrollable row and all seem to carry equal weight. If we invade Canada – and if someone discovers a better way to make a grilled cheese sandwich – these seem, visually, of equal importance.

My first real job was on a weekly newspaper in a suburb of Boston. That newspaper no longer exists except in the digital archives of the Boston Public Library. I was a student, and the lowest rung on the editorial ladder. I learned how to write everything from engagement announcements to obituaries to top-of-front-page stories. 

My words appeared in print! Sometimes I had a byline! There’s an old expression to describe writers who fall in love with seeing their words in print: you get printers’ ink in your veins. My veins filled up with printers’ ink. 

And I learned to love newspapers.

Alas, much to my sorrow, and for the first time in my longish life, I can no longer get a big-city daily newspaper delivered to my house. I moved out of my Marlboro home, and now I’m on a country road where our nearest daily can’t afford to deliver. Since I want to support regional journalism, I buy their digital version. I’m grateful for it, but I rarely look at it. It’s so difficult to navigate the pages on the screen of my little laptop. Besides, I like to read while I eat and I have learned, from sad experience, what happens when you spill drinking water on your laptop keyboard.

Our little community does still have a local weekly, printed on paper, so once a week we all enjoy the full newspaper experience while we learn what our selectboard is up to, what musical the local theater group is planning, who’s engaged.

All this is to say: If you feel as I do about news-on-paper, please support your local newspaper. If you don’t feel as I do, please support it anyway for the sake of your hopelessly retrograde relatives, friends, and neighbors.




The courage to begin (

Time for a spot of tea (

Peace. Love. Ukulele. (