THIS AND THAT: A paradigm shift for the daily newspaper (2024)

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Paradigm shift. It’s a term I first heard about years ago at a Chamber of Commerce retreat in Charleston where Dr. Tom Hallman made a presentation.

I don’t recall the precise shift he was referencing, but the term stuck with me and has become relevant in many ways in recent years. A paradigm shift, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way.”

The introduction of the cellphone, for instance, created a paradigm shift in the way people communicated. They were no longer tied to a specific place with a telephone attached to a cord. People could place and receive calls from almost anywhere. It was a fundamental change in how we operated.

The internet with all of its implications for storage and transmission of data was also a paradigm shift in the way we obtain information. For instance, no longer were students limited to doing research in a library when working on term papers. They could get to sources online any time of day in the comfort of their own homes. What a change that was.

Of course, AI is another paradigm shift in the manner in which people operate. I don’t know enough about the topic to elaborate, but from the noise being made by this form of intelligence, it is something that scares some (think “The Terminator”) and fascinates others.

But one recent paradigm shift hit me hard in recent weeks. That was the new form of delivery of the daily newspaper. Throughout my growing up years and through more than five decades of adulthood, the morning paper or papers in the driveway has been a staple of life I have relied upon.

During years of working at a newspaper, I counted on having that morning slice of information to peruse over a morning piece of toast (I don’t drink coffee, so that has never been part of my day!). When I worked for the Augusta paper, I checked over the Aiken Standard to see if we missed anything. And when I worked for the Standard, I looked at The Augusta Chronicle to see if there was anything published that we needed to take note of.

Today's Top Headlines

  • Winter Colony estate set to be offered in foreclosure sale July 1
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  • Tropical Smoothie Café set to open in Aiken Towne Park
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  • Weekly top residence sales for Aiken County for April 12-18
  • Hammer time: S.C. teens focus on Salkehatchie projects in Aiken County
  • Letter: Disheartened by Fermata Club news
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  • Letter: Dionne column full of misinformation

Even after retirement, the habit of looking through the morning newspaper never stopped. When my wife went to work, I sat down in the living room and read through the pages of the Standard before settling down with the puzzles.

But the shift was already in the works. As online content grew and the daily newspaper became a five-day-a-week print item, the writing was on the wall (or on the screen). Younger people were getting news in a manner other than the printed word on paper. The cost of printing is high, finding people to reliably deliver newspapers is difficult, and those in charge of making difficult decisions realized that a paradigm shift was needed. So the announcement was made that the Aiken Standard would be delivered by mail rather than paper carrier. A fundamental change in the way things have always been done (at least “always” in my lifetime).

It’s not a change I am totally enamored with, but it is one that I understand. Businesses do what they must to survive, and if this is a way to help a local newspaper and local journalism survive and thrive, then so be it.

To keep up to date with local happenings, I read the Aiken Standard’s online offerings several times a day. And when the newspaper arrives in the mail with the promised same-day delivery, I leaf through the pages to see if there is anything I have not already seen. Often there is. And then I go to the puzzle page.

This is a paradigm shift that might not affect a lot of people, but it is one that has hit home with me. When the final newspaper was tossed in its plastic bag onto our driveway, I took a photo (not with a traditional camera, but with a cell phone — another paradigm shift). I call it “The Last Time.”

Readers will get used to the idea of the newspaper showing up in the mail. Others will simply and naturally go to the website or use the Aiken Standard app to learn what is happening. And I’ll comment on the loss of morning driveway delivery the same way that I talk with other old-timers about milk being brought to the front porch and doctors making house calls.


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