When seeking inspiration I often meander down the aisles of local bookstores and invariably spend a great deal of time in the magazine section. I’m a Gen Xer who cannot seem to get enough of the printed word and there’s a level of satisfaction I receive when reading newspapers and magazines. I trust the printed word.
More than that, print vehicles inspire feelings in me that other mediums rarely convey. They beautifully blend art and commerce in neatly prepackaged and visually appealing masterpieces that are at times too important to let go of. My home office is packed with a wide range of specialty and general interest publications from Vanity Fair and Gentlemen’s Quarterly to Foreign Policy and Ring Magazine. Investigative pieces from alternative weeklies are mixed in among this disparate collection of personally idiosyncratic interests.
More than bookmarking a page on the internet, the dog eared pages of these papers and magazines take me back to where I was when I first read them; like a familiar smell from childhood has the ability to instantly transport you to a faraway time and place. They chronicle the jagged path of personal growth in a way other media outlets simply cannot do.
Recently I uncovered articles I had written for my college newspaper. It’s where I caught the bug that would fuel my desire to launch the Long Island Press. While my style is somewhat recognizable, I barely know the person who authored the pieces. Back then it seems I was somewhere lightly to the right of Stalin – no doubt a youthful attempt to swim against the stream of liberal ideology I was surrounded by on campus. There is a famous saying (erroneously linked to Winston Churchill) that says “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.” My personal evolution has been the antithesis of this to say the very least.
There’s something comforting about reading about past events in an article that begins with something other than “wiki”. You get a sense of where the writer really was both physically and emotionally. A newspaper article may collect dust on my shelf for years before I revisit it, but I almost always get more out of it with new and older eyes. Context is essential in understanding the information from articles and stories from yesteryear. Looking at advertisements on adjacent pages, columns from the talking heads of the day and the look and feel of the product speak volumes about the era the words were originally authored in and tell us something that an archived blog post can never fully offer.
So here I am – a member of generation X already reminiscing about a near-forgotten era of yellowed newspaper pages and dog eared magazines. I am self aware enough to recognize that this feeling comes from a place tinged with sadness. The industry I love is dying – or should I say changing forever. Most of the changes are important, necessary and irrevocable and we are working to be a positive force in this change as are many of my colleagues. But any catharsis is not without casualties. Great newspapermen and women, revered journalists and important social commentators are being cast aside, retired early or marginalized. I suppose this is my way of saluting every one of them whose service to our nation is no less important than our armed forces because the journalist-as-truth-seeker is part of the fabric of our democracy our soldiers defend.
I will continue to pay tribute to these great heroes of democracy long after they lay down their pens as their words will live forever on my bookshelves and the archive of my mind.