By Joe Darby
There occurred this week a day that I never thought I’d see come to pass.
No, it’s nothing catastrophic or life threatening. It’s just that for the first time in my life I don’t have access to a daily newspaper.
A daily newspaper was what I devoted my life’s work to, was what paid all of my and my family’s bills and leisure enjoyments and is still paying my pension and helping with health premiums. A daily newspaper, since the 1950s when I started reading them, supplied me every day of the week with news ranging from local government, politics and crime to major national and international news, from the presidencies of Eisenhower and Kennedy to the latest controversies of Trump, and wars from Korea and Vietnam to Afghanistan.
A daily newspaper informed me in detail about many hundreds of LSU football, basketball and baseball games, as well as the ups and downs, mostly downs, of the New Orleans Saints. I worked on and solved countless crossword puzzles in daily newspapers and checked the forecasts for the next day’s weather.
When I was a lad my parents subscribed to the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate and to the State-Times, Baton Rouge’s afternoon paper. Yes, those were the days when a medium sized city like our state capital actually had two dailies.
When I went to work for the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 1965, I got to read that paper every day, as well as the Crescent City’s afternoon daily, the States-Item. In the early 1980s the States-Item was more or less absorbed by the TP, but I still had one daily, if not two.
When I retired and moved to Natchitoches in 2006, I chose between the Alexandria Daily Town Talk and the Shreveport Times. I had to make that choice, you see, because I just had to have a daily newspaper. There wasn’t a whole lot to the Alexandria paper, even 13 years ago, so I chose the Shreveport Times.
It was a compromise, because the Times wasn’t as good as the Times-Picayune or even the Morning Advocate, but getting either of those papers by mail would have been slow and very expensive. So for the last dozen years plus one I’ve read the Shreveport Times.
It’s gotten a little thinner and it’s raised its subscription costs substantially. I wasn’t at all interested in Shreveport’s local politics but the paper’s sports coverage was good. It had good stories on LSU and it ran the Major League Baseball standings and scores every day. The latter was quite important to me, because I’m one of those old geezers who truly loves baseball and keeps up with all the games as best I can.
Well, the Times raised its subscription costs so high a few months ago that I had to cut back my deliveries from seven to five days a week. Just recently they raised my monthly costs for five-day deliveries from $16 to $20. That’s $240 a year, not a small sum.
Then, this baseball season, they have apparently stopped running Major League Baseball scores and standings, except for rare occasions when they run them in small agate type. Most days, nada.
No explanation — they just stopped. So I sent them an email, asking them to reconsider, or at least to let me know why. Unsurprisingly, they failed to give me the courtesy of a return email. I don’t like being ignored when I try to reach out.
So I called to cancel my subscription. I was told there was a waiting time of 39 — or possibly 29 minutes — it was hard to understand the recording. They had a deal in which they would call you back, though, so you didn’t have to hold for half an hour. Sure enough, I got a call back from a woman who didn’t even know which paper I wanted to cancel. The Times, you know, is part of a big chain. So I told her, it was the Shreveport Times. She tried to talk me into staying for a further trial, but I said no.
So when I walk out on the lawn tomorrow morning, there won’t be a daily newspaper in my driveway. That’s pretty sad to me, but enough was enough. The world is changing and not necessarily for the better.