Some traditions will continue until newspapers stop actually printing, eradicated by progress and technology.
Here is one tradition -- nearly every key newsworthy event in our society is quickly followed by dad getting contacted by his only son.
In the early 1990s, it was a phone call from college. Then it transitioned to voicemail left by a phone number in Idaho or North Carolina, eventually it became an email and on Tuesday morning -- for the first time ever -- text message.
Traditions sometimes go kicking and screaming when it comes to newspapers, the most obvious example are the scrapbooks. Barely a week or even a business day goes by when someone comes into the Petoskey News-Review and wants to purchase five or 10 copies of a certain day's edition because their grandson, neighbor or business was featured in print. There are certainly binders, plastic sleeves and oversized Zip-Loc bags in homes throughout the region stuffed with News-Review articles.
The tradition shared between father and son in my family is front pages or entire sections saved from key events, such as the NCAA men's basketball tournament final on Monday night. U of M may have lost, but the diversity of articles, graphics and overall coverage still draws in more than a few readers and certainly leads to extra copies being printed.
The destination mailing address may have changed, but the interest has not waned over the years between us. This helps to fill an office box tucked behind winter coats in the front closet, populated from sections involving Michigan State's NCAA tournament triumph in 2000 and U of M's in 1989. There's also six newspapers' coverage of the event on 9/11, former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's corruption in text messages, the Green Bay Packers' most recent Super Bowl win. Last Christmas it was opened for its most recent time, accompanied by the holiday gift of six specialty-print front pages from over the years.
You get the picture. It's kept to a single box, a time capsule of key events and how the business of newspapers has changed.
Even before sending that text to dad, before the final buzzer sounded on the Wolverines' season, my mind wandered to how journalism has changed. It's the job, the responsibility now to be at the forefront of that change. So several different mobile apps were tapped at throughout the game, quickly draining the iPhone battery as I observed how one coverage effort was different -- or the same -- as the next.
And yes, this was broken only by mild vocal protestations of U of M's Trey Burke getting whistled for a foul on a clean block and another Wolverine free throw not dropping through the net.
The apps kept getting a workout between those moments, getting tapped over and over and mental notes were made of what to look into today or sometime soon about the News-Review's digital platform.
The evaluation versus tradition argument continued after the game and deep into Tuesday. Reminding myself to contact dad, but also wondering when scrapbooks will be a thing of the past ... perhaps replaced in entirety by little zip drives filled with photoscanned copies of articles and full page Portable Document Format (Adobe PDF to the less tech savvy). That is until the next technological upgrade. The guess is that scrapbooks will shrink away when newspapers become fully digital, closing down printing presses once and for all after centuries of use.
The one question I had after sending the Tuesday morning text message to dad is when does our personal tradition pass on? Likely not in his lifetime, but knowing now that I can simply save a PDF and read at my leisure while saving space in the closet when my Google Drive replaces an office paper box.
At least in one family touched by newspapers, a tradition will still remain until the end.
Zac Britton is the digital editor at the Petoskey News-Review. For ideas or questions about News-Review online, social media or digital product, he can be reached at (231) 439-9398 or firstname.lastname@example.org.