The Only Edition on the Block by
(194 Stories)

Prompted By Newspapers

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It’s lonely out here. Each morning, about 4, I’m hurled out of the delivery car to go “plop” on my reader’s driveway, where I linger for a few hours until she picks me up and moves me to the warmth of her kitchen. Most of the time the lawn sprinklers miss me, although occasionally I get a shower. But during that wait time, it’s very quiet. I look up and down the sidewalks, both sides of the street, and I’m the only newspaper there.

It's lonely out here. I look up and down the sidewalks, both sides of the street, and I'm the only newspaper there.

Twenty years ago, I had some company. The Wall Street Journal two houses away and I would chat about our contents. She would tease me and call me “Merc.” I like my formal name, The San Jose Mercury News, even though now my bosses are part of a conglomerate. Over the years, we noticed we were losing weight, getting thinner. The New York Times across the street, always the old gray lady, recalled a time on Sundays when she was thicker than a phone book.

My reader and her partner have gray hair as well and are the oldest people on the block. They treat me kindly, going through each section and at least scanning my contents. Sometimes they recount stories of their younger days when, in my ancestors’ pages, they read classified ads to find jobs and sell and buy items. I barely remember those times.

Each evening my reader puts aside the parts of me where crossword puzzles are printed, to revisit later, a courtesy before she places the rest of me in the recycle bin. I lose consciousness and sleep until midnight, when the web presses at the printer reconstruct me for the new day.

My reader comments to her partner that she gets emails from my bosses to encourage her to read my online version more often. She says it’s OK but not the same as I, that she misses the spontaneity of stumbling upon a meaningful article when randomly flipping through my columns of printed type. I appreciate that.

We both suspect that, sooner or later, my bosses will consider me on life support and stop the presses, to pull the plug on my physical being. At that point I will join the other publications in cyberspace in the sky, but I will miss that landing on the driveway and my reader’s fingers slowly turning my pages.

Profile photo of Marian Marian
I have recently retired from a marketing and technical writing and editing career and am thoroughly enjoying writing for myself and others.

Characterizations: funny, moving, right on!, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Brilliant to tell us the story from the point of view of the paper, Mare. Love that you are “losing weight”, that your reader and her partner have gray hair and you are nostalgic for the days when they read the want ads or looked for jobs in your pages. Some day you will only be in the sky, but will miss the touch of those people, turning your pages. You speak of that in such loving terms, it is almost erotic. Yes, those were the days.

  2. Dave Ventre says:

    Very clever; an anthropomorphic newspaper!

    I fear that the economics of making and distributing paper editions are going to almost completely kill off that medium. Those left will be either entirely dominated by large corporations (as are nearly all now, I guess) or small art projects.

    I am a cynic about this; I think we are well into the Disinformation Age where it is near impossible to tell the truth from the lies. In other words, doomed.

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    Loved this take from the paper’s viewpoint, and so poignant. There was a time we got the SF Chronicle, Oakland Tribune AND the San Jose Mercury all at our doorstep, but it was a bit overwhelming. The only advantage of some of the better papers being on-line is that we can now read them in Canada, where delivery is not an option, and I do feel increasingly guilty about the carbon footprint—but still cherish the local paper in its slimmed-down Tuesday-through-Saturday incarnation. Another one of those old gray heads tenderly leading through and separating out the puzzles.

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    So clever to tell this story from the point of view of the newspaper. Before we moved, we and our next door neighbors (also on the older side) were the only papers on the block. Now, in our condo, I never see physical newspapers by anyone else’s door on our floor. I makes me feel old and nostalgic for the days when the newspaper was independent and essential for anyone who wanted to stay informed.

    • Marian says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Laurie. It’s interesting that the emails I receive encouraging me to go to the digital edition are full of “helpful” hints, assuming that I’m old and don’t know how to navigate the pages.

  5. John Shutkin says:

    Brilliant perspecive and story, Marian! Others responding to this prompt have lamented the demise of the printed paper, but telling this same story from the paper’s (anthropomorphic)standpoint was a real stroke of genius and you carried it out brilliantly.
    Incidentally, we’re in the midst of a blizzard today in MA and I received an email early this morning from the Times advising me that you would not even be coming today, but I should expect you tomorrow. Miss you!

    • Marian says:

      Stay safe in that blizzard, John. Out here in the West, we’ve been watching what’s going on back East. The Merc is spoiled by 50-degree weather here. Ms. New York Times misses you as well and appreciates her loyal readers.

  6. Thanks for putting me in the mind of the newspaper, a good perspective from which to cogitate on so many changes. Very nicely done.

  7. Wonderful story Marian!
    And do tell your narrator that his buddy here in Connecticut who lands on my doorstep – or a few yards away – very considerately comes wrapped in a plastic bag sealed with a rubber band on rainy or snowy days. (But of course your California guy probably doesn’t know what snow is.)

  8. Suzy says:

    As others have said, it’s great that you told the story from the newspaper’s point of view. Very clever! I do miss opening the front door and seeing the paper lying there waiting to be picked up. Now I’m feeling sad. 🙁

  9. Susan Bennet says:

    Perfect! And really perfect if your comics page used to feature “Brenda Starr.”

  10. Jim Willis says:

    Marian, what a unique way of describing the depressing state of the newspaper industry: from the viewpoint of the lonely morning newspaper out on the doorstep. Great work!

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