I know, you’re looking at the headline above and thinking this column is going to be about the state of the newspaper industry. Nope. Not going there. That’s a discussion for another time. This column is about discovery and how newspapers reveal things that you didn’t even know you needed to know.
Friday, I was tooling around, first in The Telegraph, of course, then The New York Times and finally, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In each of these papers I religiously read the obituary section (the Times has five obit writers). My mother told me as a young man that one day I would always read this section of the paper. I laughed her off. I’m not laughing now. Like most things, mom was right.
On this day, in the AJC, a picture of Dr. Frank Glover Sr., caught my eye. Dr. Glover lived a long life of 85 or 86 years, his obit didn’t specify his birth month month, but he passed away May 1. Dr. Glover was the fourth black referee in the history of the National Football League and the first from the South. He had retired as an assistant superintendent for the Atlanta Public School System after 35 years of service.
But then another sentence reached out and grabbed me. “A native of Macon, Georgia,” the obit said “Dr. Glover was born 1931, the third of five children of the late Eddie and Annie Bell Glover. He was preceded in death by his sister, Eddie Mae Glover, brothers, Jessie B. Glover, “Pee” Willie Glover, and the late Anita Brown Glover, his first wife.”
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I didn’t find out about Dr. Glover on Facebook. I didn’t see a tweet nor an instant message. I saw it in a newspaper. I certainly don’t have anything against the various devices we get our news today. I sit in front of my computer most every day. In fact, I read Dr. Glover’s obit on the AJC’s E-Edition. That’s the electronic replica of their daily paper. If you didn’t know, there is a Telegraph E-Edition. I also use my iPhone and iPad several times a day. However, I still enjoy the tactile feel of holding a newspaper, and it has several advantages, I think, over mobile news sites.
With a newspaper, I can browse in an orderly manner. I can scan the headlines on the page and read what I desire. I can jump around if I wish. With mobile sites, jumping around is a bit more problematic. What was there might be gone by the time I get back to it. But there is one disadvantage that’s hard for me to overcome. With mobile sites, if you don’t know it’s there, you won’t know it’s there.
With a physical newspaper, you can discover what you didn’t plan on discovering. I don’t mean to say you can’t do the same on mobile devices, I’m just saying I find it more difficult. And if I miss something, I have to use all sorts of search techniques to find it — if — I have some idea what it is that I’ve missed. I realize I’m a relic and that my breed’s time on this planet is winding down. Time and technology wait for no one.
But until my clock runs out, I’ll still walk out to my paper box wondering what will surprise me when I look at the front page. We all have our routines. I bring my paper to work, not that I have to, since we have them here. I walk across the street to Nu-Way, get a sausage egg and cheese biscuit, slap some jelly on it and read my newspapers while trying not to get jelly drippings on the pages.
Some dear readers work the puzzles as they sip their morning coffee; while others head for the comics. But there are more than a few who are exactly like me. You may not go to the obituary section first thing (I start at the front page and work my way through the entire paper), but I would bet that you don’t put that paper down before seeing who is no longer with us. And more often than not, you know a name or two on the page. My mother was right about that one, too.