When I tell you my latest newspaper sales pitch, I know you’ll think I belong in a rehab program for pathological liars. But I’m not fibbing when I report the best reason I’ve ever seen for reading a newspaper:
It will make you happy.
I didn’t make that up, folks. There it is on page 47 of the January 2013 issue of Prevention magazine. “Reading a Newspaper” is one of six things listed in an article titled “6 Weird Things That Make You Happy.”
Here’s what Prevention says:
“If you’re among the 19 million Americans who have canceled their daily paper, it’s time to resubscribe or read the online edition of your local Daily Planet. Perusing a broadsheet instead of gawking at the TV emerged as a key difference between most- and least-happy folks in a University of Maryland study that analyzed how more than 30,000 people spend their time.”
I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. Television makes you sad; newspapers make you happy. (No doubt the happiness theory applies to weekly newspapers, too.)
Several of us hard-nosed newspaper hounds finally gave up trying to get television banned from the Earth. We knew TV was depressing long before “positivity researchers” — whoever they are — came out with their list of “unexpected happiness triggers that can turn your frown upside down,” as Prevention puts it.
It is legal, we all know, to telecast shows and news programs that’ll slam-dunk the most Pollyanna person into a pit of depression. Allow me to cite some of the culprits:
TV weather coverage: Television is useful when a real storm is on the way. But sometimes competing TV stations go overboard. For example, much of the South just lived through another winter storm watch of almost unprecedented potential. TV camera people fanned out to seven counties, all of them looking for freezing rain and/or sleet.
When they finally found enough to show up, they placed their cameras on the ground to make it look like Antarctica. They interviewed people who said things like, “Yeah, I seen some ice on a car over on Main Street.” It’s depressing. Senior citizens were afraid to walk outside to get their newspaper.
Reality shows: We all know that reality is not choosing your bride — or your groom — from a bevy of beautiful people waiting with bated breath and eager eyes. If that’s reality, we all missed it. It’s depressing. (Honey, I’m happy with my choice nonetheless.)
I’m too distraught to mention such shows as “Honey Boo Boo.” They make Southerners look like nincompoops.
24-hour cable news: If you’re covering the news nonstop for 24 hours, eventually you’ll interview someone who’ll say something really stupid, a live comment that will be disseminated around the world. That stupid comment will be repeated on the next 47 newscasts. It’s depressing.
OK, I’ve given you three depressing elements of television. Now, don’t you really appreciate the newspaper you’re reading? Don’t you feel happier already?
I’m going to read one right now.
— Hudgins, a former community newspaper editor, can be reached at email@example.com.