The morning after Election Day, I had to make four stops before I found a store that still had a copy of the New York Times, beating a spry older woman by seconds. She was not happy, but her plaintive "I was going to buy that" fell on deaf ears. The unifying spirit of the moment did not mean I was handing over the last copy of the paper of record. Hit the bricks, grandma!
Like some newspaper editors I saw quoted in the media, I took heart in the mad dash for papers taking place all over the nation. I thought it was a sign that even in these disintermediating times, people still need the paper. Mike Masnick of Techdirt posted a crushing takedown of this premise:
... it sounds as though many newspaper publishers got exactly the wrong lesson from this. Some publishers celebrated the rush to buy newspapers as evidence that newspapers were still relevant and that in "big events" people still turned to print papers. Except, that's not true. Publishers who believe that are deluding themselves. People got the actual news from the internet and TV. The newspapers just represent a souvenir of the event -- not the place to turn to for news about it.
The copy of the Times I bought Wednesday morning still sits on my desk unread. I got the news online.
News papers are more for collecting than for reading when something that big hit the front page.