I don’t understand why some people prefer to read the news online. I like the ritual of walking to the corner store to buy a Sunday paper, coming home to pour myself a cup of coffee, and flipping through the sections of the paper to decide which one I want to read first. Serendipity is a wonderful thing– a word, a picture, a headline catches my eye and I’m soon engrossed in some obscure topic I might never have considered if I hadn’t turned the page.
I’m sad that print circulation of newspapers continues to decline. In 1950, the total paid circulation for U.S. Sunday newspapers was over 46 million, or roughly equivalent to 107% of American households. By 2010, the total paid circulation for Sunday papers had declined to just over 44 million. Of course the population in the U.S. increased over those 60 years, so this figure was equivalent to just over 37% of households.
I don’t know if more people are reading the news online. It’s also possible that more people are not paying any attention to the news at all. Either way, I suppose (looking on the bright side) there are fewer papers out there in the world that we have to recycle. On the other hand, if everyone did have stacks of newspapers lying around, we could use them to make art.
Today, which happened to be a Sunday, I went to the deCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts and saw an installation by Steven Siegel called “Big, with rift.” Nearly 32 feet long, it is made out of newspaper that was provided by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. (Did they donate the papers they couldn’t sell due to declining circulation rates?) “Flora”– the other material used– is growing out of the top of the tower of newspapers. Siegel’s sculpture was installed in 2009 but looks like it could remain there for some time to come. I couldn’t help but wonder if one day a child will visit the sculpture park with a parent and ask, “Mommy, what are all those papers? Where did they come from?” And, after the parent explained the purpose of a Sunday paper, the child might also ask, “Why?”