The newspaper arrives in the book store in the morning. Six days out of seven, the shelves are filled with an abundance of neatly folded papers. They all come in a shade of grey. The store offers a large selection of newspapers from all over the world, creating a quilt of Russian, French, Spanish and English writing on the left side of the shelf and a mix of German newspapers on the right. Each of them is worth two to six euros. My favorite daily comes at the price of exactly 3,20 euros.
To me, this section of the store was always reserved for the educated, business men and travelers –Whose journey was not long enough to finish a whole book, but yet long enough that they needed a distraction to pass a few hours- and occasionally adults. To them, the paper promises a quiet start into a Sunday morning. But all that changed when I found myself in front of the shelf.
To embrace the whole size of the rectangular front page, I hold the paper at least a foot away from my face. To hold it more comfortably, I fold it twice and reduce it to a quarter of its size. That’s how it comes in the store. Any additional folding requires pressure on the fold line and creates wrinkles in the paper.
The smooth papers are fragile and rip easily. But all rolled up together, they are firm enough to stay in shape and can become a deadly weapon for unwelcomed insects. The paper has almost no scent, other than a faded smell of ink reminding me of the place it was manufactured.
“The Gray Lady”, a nickname for the New York Times, informs and educates, but never gossips. Her grey dress is structured by fine lines, creating space for columns, along with main articles and photographs. Color appears to be reduced to a minimum as she impresses with words, not looks. The paper follows an order of different categories, such as World, Business, Opinion, Sports and Culture with the paper’s name crowning page one.
A newspaper is full of secrets and stories. To experience a newspaper to the fullest, I go beyond the informative base of the paper and I give it color (literally).
A little bit of pink.
Just like portraits in a gallery, the pieces of writing have their own creative beauty. I marvel at the work by Dennis Overbye “Pinning down the cosmos” in the New York Times (International Edition, Wednesday, February 22, 2017), where he compares dark matter and dark energy to a “double dark chocolate chunk brownie” or how Wendy MacLeod allows her readers to glimpse into her childhood through the re-discovery of former name brands in her article “Name brand nostalgia” (pusblished in the same newspaper).
A strike of yellow.
Helping the learning process through a connection with a personal interest sounds much more promising than checking off tasks in an old-fashioned workbook. Therefore, language learners, in particular, should try reading the news in a foreign language. I stumble over new words frequently. Equipped with a pen and a dictionary, I dig myself through the pile of the vocabulary being thrown in my direction.
And green. (–It really should be a rainbow-color.)
Newspapers hold a whole spectrum of adventure and creativity. Eventually, they challenge you to come to terms with your thoughts to form your own opinions. When something strikes your interest, go beyond what the article has to offer. How do other newspapers portray this issue? Maybe you find a related book or even a related event in town. (I have stumbled upon great books this way.) Follow (some) movie-recommendations and figure out whether you agree with Manohla Dargis’ perception of the musical movie “La La Land” as she described “how the lickable candy-colored costumes bring to mind both M&M’s and Jacques Demy” (“Making musicals matter again” in the New York Times, International Edition, Saturday-Sunday, November 26-27, 2016)? Lastly, to my mind, reading the newspaper is a way of getting in touch with the world and experiencing culture through the written world. When I read about local food, I often try to recreate it in my kitchen. “Tonight, we are eating Venezuelan food.”, I announced to my friends at a dinner party, after I had found out about “arepa”, a kind of Venezuelan sandwich, as it was mentioned in a quote in “An exodus from Venezuela” by Nicholas Casey (published in the same newspaper).
For whatever reason you might pick it up, don’t be afraid to inspire and challenge yourself before throwing hours of dedication and research into the trash.