When local farmer Scott Walrath recently told me farmers are stupidly in love with farming, I totally got it, maybe more than others who aren’t farmers would. For a long time I was in love with print journalism and now it, and farming, are two dying ways of life. I say ways of life because that is what both are. They are not occupations. They are something you live and breathe and that runs in your blood, dark like the ink in a press. .
In farming there is never a day off, always a cow to help birth or equipment to fix, or fields to work. In print journalism my brain was always working and thinking of the next story. Even if I was not at the office I seemed to always have my ears open to a tip or a feature story idea. Every person I met or place I visited had the potential of a news story or art for the front page. Art, in newspaper lingo, is essentially a main photo to anchor the front page and grab the readers attention so hopefully they will buy the paper.
More and more today, though, people aren’t buying the newspaper and even if they were, the paper to produce the newspaper is so expensive many papers are either raising prices or laying off employees.
New tarrifs on newsprint coming into the United States have raised prices more than 50 percent in some cases. The increase in expenses is leading some papers to drop the size of their papers down as they try to balance the decrease in demand, the rising prices and the difficulty with employing a staff. Small, privately owned newspapers, much like small, family owned farms, are being hit the hardest by the changes.
I find myself trying hard not to think about a world without a physical newspaper to hold in my hand, one where scrolling on a computer or phone replaces the turning of the page. One where we no longer close our eyes and smell the ink, for me the smell of stories yet to be told. Similarly my brain often fights to silence the thoughts and frightening visions of empty barns dotting rural Pennsylvania’s landscapes of open fields, filled with corn or wheat or simply lush green.
Ah, those dying ways of life that a few of us still fight for, maybe because we are stupid, maybe because we are stuck in the “good ole’ days” or maybe because it runs in our blood and we can’t imagine doing anything else.