I have to admit that without the help of online newspapers, I could not write this blog. Most of the newspapers I read are local to be in keeping with the title of my blog. However, I do read the British papers as well.
Amongst the ones that I read online used to be the Times but not anymore because now they charge for it. I can understand why, after all you do get the same news that others have to pay for when they buy the paper version. However, I would argue that there are several important differences between the online paper and the paper copy which justifies you paying for the latter.
For one thing, you can’t easily read the online edition on the way to work by train or by bus and not at all on a plane. Even if you have a snazzy smart phone, you need a decent 3G connection to download the pages.
Secondly and perhaps more important, when you have finished reading the paper copy it can be used for a great many things.
- you can screw the paper up and use it to light a fire (my father taught me how roll it properly to make the paper burn longer)
- you can also use a newspaper to draw the fire up the chimney to get it going (a highly dangerous practice my father also taught me)
- you can use it to wrap items up that you want to store (not recommended for items that might get soiled by the newsprint)
- you can lay it under carpets to stop the floorboards wearing the backing (with the added bonus that when you come to change the carpet, you can relive the old news)
- in fact you can lay newspaper under anything that needs padding
- you can make party hats out of them
- use it in the garden to blanch celery or to protect plants from frost
- put it on your car windscreen to stop it frosting over
- in school you’d use newspaper to make papier mache and to cover the tables when gluing and painting
- they are great for making the tails of kites from (not the kite itself though)
- fold one and use it as a fan to keep you cool
- stuff your wet shoes with one
- crumpled newspaper and vinegar is great for polishing windows and mirrors
- put a paper over your head when it is raining to keep your head dry or to keep the sun off at cricket matches
- on the terraces at Liverpool FC they would roll up the Daily Post and use it as a funnel when they could not get to the toilet (not recommended if the person in front is bigger than you)
- my mother used newspaper to copy paper dress patterns
- if you were our grandparents you might have cut it into squares and used it as toilet paper (only if you had an outside loo of course)
- again, if you were our grandparents you would have used it to cover the windows when you were decorating (why did they do that?)
- poor people (not our families you understand) used to line drawers with them
- you can convert newspapers into logs to burn (my father tried this and then found that it was cheaper to buy coal)
- you can use it to stuff up a draughty doorway or window
- you can lay it on the floor to keep it clean when you come in from the garden or workshop (I am desperately trying to remember who used to do that in “Last of the Summer Wine”)
- put newspaper on the floor when you polish your shoes
- according to our teacher, the British use newspaper to wrap fish and chips. We did have to point out to her that the fish and chips are actually wrapped in clean paper - the newspaper was just to keep them warm on the way home
- you can stuff it down your jersey when you are cycling downhill (many a rider has relied on a copy of L'Équipe to keep his chest warm whilst descending the Col de Tourmalet)
That is why I believe they are justified in charging for newspapers because they are a value added item – online news just isn’t.