Ode to the Front Page

NY Times Front Page, courtesy Poynter Institute archives

I miss the front page.  Oh I know — I can see a digital front page on my New York Times iPad app. But social media editors are always adjusting the stories to encourage more clicks. Which often has little to do with late-breaking news.  I want what today would be called, I guess, a “sticky” front page.

I’m one of those half and half people.  I read almost all my news from all sources on my iPhone and iPad. Mostly iPhone. Seldom even on a legit website.  But I still get the print version of a few newspapers.  Like the New York Times. Daily and Sunday. I like to look at that front page in the morning — already outdated in our 24/7 world – and get a sense of what is or was important.

Most days I put the paper in the recycle pile without opening it.  Mondays and Tuesdays I save the Business and Science sections for the media and health stories I can read later.  On the apps — those stories are often moved to the bottom of the stack — or even dropped — before I have time to get to them.

But the front page — that’s the heart of any newspaper. The world at a glance. You just can’t get that from a stacked-up news app on the iPhone. It’s kind of like the legacy networks’ evening news broadcasts.  We know the news already, mostly. But that half hour neatly sums up the newsday.  Front page in the morning. Newscast at night. (Although I could certainly do without all the drug commercials with their ridiculously scary side effects). With so much information out there – true and false – most people don’t have the journalistic skills to sort it all out. Prioritize.

That’s what editors do.  The 3 who are left.

Well I suppose I’ll give in soon enough. Dump my print delivery with its front page of record. But before I go — one more thought.  When you’re reading and eating fried chicken or a sloppy tuna-in-a-pita sandwich –the real newspaper doesn’t care that your fingers are all greasy.  It neatly absorbs whatever your fingers slop on its pages.  Try that with the gorilla glass screens of the iDevices.

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