Dave Simpson: The Abrupt End Of A Life-Long Habit

Columnist Dave Simpson writes: "One thing I'll remember about 2022 is it was the year we canceled our local newspaper..."

Dave Simpson

January 01, 20234 min read

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One thing I’ll remember about 2022 is it was the year we canceled our local newspaper.

When the Tribune-Eagle in Cheyenne stopped home delivery at our place a couple miles east of town, it was an easy decision.

Facing the same impossible challenges newspapers face everywhere these days, the Tribune-Eagle had already eliminated the Tuesday edition, and since there wasn’t a Monday edition, you went from Sunday until Wednesday with no paper. Keeping carriers had been a longstanding challenge, so many days the dog and I would walk out to the tube and find no paper. Swearing would ensue.

Days were sometimes skipped entirely, so I’d find no newspaper one day, then two newspapers stuffed in the tube the next day. And then they finally switched us to mail delivery.

We had subscribed since 2006, with only one interruption, when the editor called us “cowpoke bumpkins” in an editorial about a controversial speaker at UW. We quit for a while over that. And I thought about quitting in 2021 when the headline on Rodger McDaniel’s column said, “It’s time to make villains of the un-vaccinated.” Really?

As a kid, the Chicago Tribune arrived on our doorstep seven days a week, and my dad read it over breakfast. Then in the afternoon he would pick up a copy of the Chicago Daily News and read Mike Royko’s column on the commuter train ride home. (He said people would stare when Royko’s column made him laugh out loud.)

Two great newspapers were in our home.

Then when I started work at the Laramie Boomerang, a free subscription came with the job (along with a $5 car allowance, that kept my VW Bug gassed up).

Free subscriptions came with all the papers I worked at, because management didn’t want employees – especially reporters –  saying, “I don’t take the paper.”

When we lived in Illinois, I used to get on the kids when their friends called while we were eating dinner. Then one night the call at dinner was for me, and it was the paper, asking if I wanted to subscribe. The kids got a laugh when dad explained to the caller that we already subscribed, thanks. (I was the publisher.)

It was a change in 2006, not working at any local paper anymore, when we had to start paying for the paper. And I quickly turned into one of those local cranks who had a lot of opinions about how the local editor was doing his job. After being the target of opinions like that for decades, suddenly I was the guy with the opinions.

My wife – a part-time proof reader at the Boomerang when she was in grad school – had been the most loyal newspaper reader I’d ever seen, until about 20 years ago, when she started getting her news from her computer. From then on, she seemed to know the news days ahead of when I’d read it in the paper.

The dog and I don’t walk out to the newspaper tube anymore (it’s still there, even though we no longer subscribe). I’ve altered my morning routine, firing up my computer before breakfast to get my daily dose of news from the Cowboy State Daily.

As a former state editor of the Casper Star-Tribune – when we had about two dozen part-time correspondents writing news from all over Wyoming – I can tell you that Cowboy State Daily is doing an outstanding job, with comprehensive news coverage and features, stunning photography, feisty opinions (some from me), and features like the Daily Darwin, Don Day’s weather report, and the great Dave Walsh on sports.

In fact, now that they feature Dilbert every day, there’s only one thing I miss from my years reading the local paper – the sports TV schedule so I know when UW teams, the Broncos, and lately the Buffalo Bills are playing. If Cowboy State could do that, and include which crazy channel I have to switch to on my TV, I’d be one utterly happy camper.

So there’s hope for old dogs like me learning  new tricks, even when it comes to a lifelong habit of reading the morning newspaper.

I’m unabashedly biased, but I say the Cowboy State Daily has our backs.

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Dave Simpson

Political, Wyoming Life Columnist

Dave has written a weekly column about a wide variety of topics for 39 years, winning top columnist awards in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.