The $3 Newspaper

A lot of folks carry a chunk of change in the car or truck. A collection of pennies, dimes, nickels, and especially quarters can be handy to have on hand. I have a plastic container made to hold quarters and I usually keep it near full for the emergency Diet Coke or snow cone.

With that in mind, I pulled into the Sherman Whataburger to grab a sausage-egg-cheese biscuit and a Sunday newspaper. Once in a while I like to browse the Dallas Morning News. With my supply of quarters I pulled out eight coins and walked up to the rack only to discover the price of the paper has gone to $3. That’s twelve quarters—two more than I had. So I put four quarters into the Herald-Democrat rack, pulled out the last paper, and kept the change.

Two years ago the Dallas Morning News was $1.50. Today it’s double that and half the size. How many folks are really throwing twelve quarters into that rack every Sunday?

I know the distribution of the Morning News is down dramatically, particularly here in Grayson County. There was a time not long ago when the Dallas newspaper was aggressively seeking us readers up here—no more it seems. A planned Grayson County section was shelved about six years ago, but the venerable member of the Fourth Estate continued to court readers with circulation promotions for the next couple of years. At some point, Grayson County fell of the grid.

At the supermarket you can compare products by checking the shelf tag that calculates the cost per ounce, item, etc. Content notwithstanding, based on weight and cost, the Herald-Democrat is a better value at .175-cents per ounce over the Dallas Morning News at .329-cents a ounce. Both newspapers however give you the feeling you get when you open a $4.50 box of cereal and find the contents has “settled” to less than half the container.

My father taught me to read the newspaper. On Sundays we would sit in the living room turning through the six big sections of the Los Angeles Times. Getting through the newspaper took most of the morning. I always read the Sports section first so that I would be ready from any questions my dad might throw at me when he got to that section. I had to scan each page for key scores, personnel changes, and other important action. There would be a test.

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When I first started reading with my father in 1968, the Sunday LA Times weighed about four pounds and cost of .50-cents. That’s .008-cents an ounce if you’re keeping track. In my mind there is nothing as engrossing as a good major city newspaper. Even with the rapid decline of the newspaper publishing industry, tomes like the Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and the LA Times offer a delightful respite from cable new networks and disingenuous radio talk show rants. Pass the sports section, please, I have some studying to do.