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January 04, 2013 8:29 am

The Amend Corner: Changing times

Written by Don Amend

Today, a piece of history landed in my mailbox in the form of Newsweek.

As usual, the week’s big story was identified on the front cover in big letters that read: “Last Print Issue.”

Now, Newsweek and I have a relationship that goes way back. I began reading it, along with Time and U.S. News, when I was in high school, and I began subscribing to it in college for the simple reason that it was cheaper than either of the other two news magazines. That same economic reason helped me talk a principal into allowing me to budget for 30 subscriptions for use in teaching current events for many years.

From now on, I’ll be reading it online.

Newsweek is not the first of those three magazines to become online only — U. S. News  did so a couple of years ago — and it probably won’t be the last. It’s all part of the digital revolution that began many years ago with the advent of the personal computer.

I’ve never been one to decry that revolution. I was among the first of my friends and acquaintances to buy a home computer, and, having discovered that it takes about seven years for a $1,000 computer to turn into a paperweight, am now on my fifth desktop. They have served as typewriters, entertained me, functioned as financial advisers, and generally have been useful tools.

Still, there are, or at least were, some limitations. About five Christmases back, I was discussing computers with a friend, and we agreed that we probably would never be comfortable reading a newspaper on one of those fancy little computers everybody now knows as an iPad. A computer was OK for looking up the occasional article in a magazine or newspaper we didn’t read regularly, but for reading the morning paper every day? That just wasn’t going to be. The same went for books, because there’s something comforting about holding a real book in your hand.

Well, today, I read the Tribune on an iPad, and when I finish this essay, I’ll probably look up the Casper Star-Tribune and read it the same way. Another daily and another weekly will catch me up on news elsewhere in the Big Horn Basin via that same small screen and, after this week, I’ll read Newsweek the same way.

What’s more, in 2012, I have read 13 books on my iPad and there are eight more on the shelf—so to speak—just waiting to be opened. One of them I just checked out of the library digitally.

In short, the thing I said five years ago that I would never do, I now do on a daily basis, with no ill effects whatsoever.

Still, my relationship with modern electronic technology has its limits. I’ve still never come to terms with the cell phone, and I’ve never sent a text message composed with my thumbs on a tiny screen. As for the smart phone, I don’t even want to think about that.

Time does not stand still, though, and I’ve learned — well, almost learned — never to say never.

Who knows what 2013 will bring, though. Next year I might text this column to the editor from an iPhone, although I hope not. I’m afraid my thumbs would fall off from the required effort.

***

On another subject, while visiting the e-edition of the Tribune today, I naturally read my fellow Tribune columnist Dante Geoffrey’s column, and it was a good one. Reading it made me realize that, while I am not happy to have left my position at the Tribune, especially given the circumstances, I am comforted by the fact that my leaving allowed a deserving young college graduate to find a job.  I have, over the last couple of years, wondered if my staying at the Tribune was robbing some deserving journalism student of a much needed job, but now I realize that I was just serving as a place-holder until Dante graduated, a not insignificant contribution to the local media scene. As one of my favorite Bible verses says, “All things work together for good to they who love the Lord and are called according to his purposes.” 

I hope it helps you pay off those student loans, Dante.

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