Reviving a ritual: Reading the Sunday paper


I’m making a deliberate effort to revive what once was a common ritual in many homes: Spending quality time reading the Sunday newspapers.

Yes, the decline of advertising revenue has led to thinner newspapers. But many of the major papers still land with a healthy thud on Sundays, replete with some of their best in-depth reporting, feature articles, and opinion pieces. There’s a tactile delight in opening up a big Sunday paper, wondering what interesting stuff lies within. Even the advertising flyers can be fun to page through, especially around holiday season.

My choices today

My Sunday choices are the New York Times and the Boston Globe. At a time when newspapers in general are struggling against the online world of free news content, the Times and the Globe continue to deliver journalistic excellence.

The Times remains one of the world’s most important periodicals. I especially look forward to its Sunday Week in Review and Book Review sections. The Globe regularly breaks important stories in Boston and New England generally, and its Sunday Ideas section runs thought-provoking features and commentaries. (I plead guilty to the fact that, politically speaking, they both lean left rather than right, but I’m not sure I could deal with the editorials in the Wall Street Journal‘s weekend edition on a Sunday morning!)

Sundays in New York

Newspapers had more substance and bulk during the days when news wasn’t available at the touch of a finger. When I lived in New York City (1982-1994), the Sunday papers were a special treat. The Sunday Times was an especially heavy load, a multi-pound door stopper packed with goodies and advertising circulars. The early edition of the Sunday Times would come out late Saturday evening (and still does), and many a weekend night out included picking up a copy on the way home.

My personal favorite, however, was New York Newsday, the (now gone) NYC edition of the venerable Long Island daily. New York Newsday wasn’t as worldly as the Times, but it spoke more closely to the city’s middle class and did a superb job of covering local politics and sports. Its thick Sunday edition was chock full of extended features and commentaries. To this day, New York Newsday remains my favorite newspaper of all time.

Chicagoland back in the day

Going back even further, when I grew up and went to college in Northwest Indiana, I always looked forward to the Sunday editions of the Chicago Tribune and the Gary Post-Tribune.  The Tribune was especially strong on covering my beloved Windy City sports teams, and the Post-Tribune did a very good job with local news.

I give both of these papers credit for turning me into a Sunday paper junkie.

Comfort habit…and more

I’m sure that anticipation of fall and the beginning of a new academic year have provided some inspiration for this post. There’s something about the (slightly) cooler weather and the start of school that I associate with reading the Sunday paper at home.

But it’s more than simply a “comfort habit.” Although I read a lot of news and commentary during the week, spending time with a printed newspaper or two on a Sunday is somehow both a more concentrated and more relaxing activity. It’s a chance to kick back a bit, even if some of the stuff I read is relevant to my work, pushes certain buttons, or prompts some follow up.

In sum, at a time when we can use more civilized, enjoyable, and affordable rituals in our lives, reading the Sunday newspaper remains a pretty good deal.

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Pictured above

The big Sunday paper has roots going back for over a century. Pictured above is the cover of Nicholson Baker & Margaret Brentano, The World on Sunday: Graphic Art in Joseph Pulitzer’s Newspaper (1898-1911) (2005), a wonderful coffee table book that celebrates Sunday newspapers published during the turn of the last century.

-David Yamada

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