When I walk around our neighborhood I see very few copies of our local newspaper on sidewalks, porches, and front lawns. We subscribe because it’s a lifelong habit, and because we like to support local journalism, and in my case because it’s a welcome reprieve from a long day of screentime.
This archaic habit has also, weirdly, become a kind of superpower. From time to time I meet people who are surprised when I know facts about them. These facts are public information, so why should it be surprising that I know them? Because they appear in the print edition of the newspaper. Consider the man in this photo.
We were out for a Sunday morning walk, carrying the newspaper, when we saw him in a cafe. We had just read an article about Whiskerino, the annual contest of fancy beards and mustaches in Petaluma. And here was the guy whose photo was featured in the article!
That was a nice coincidence, but the kicker is that he had no idea his picture was in the paper. Not being of newspaper-reading age, and not having friends of newspaper-reading age, he had to depend on elders to alert him. I guess we got to him before his parents did.
When a similar thing happened this weekend, it occurred to me that this could be a good marketing strategy for newspapers. Do you want to wield an information superpower? Do you want to amaze people by knowing facts that they can’t imagine you could possibly know? Subscribe to the print edition of your local newspaper!