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Sherman Says: Digital subscribers missing out on the best of Times’ Sunday edition

BUFFALO — Recently, I received two separate sales pitches from the New York Times. One offered me a subscription to the online version of the prestigious newspaper. The second, arriving several days later, was an offer I could not refuse.

The introductory offer of “Sunday only, for just $4.30 per week” was too good to pass up. I fell for it, hook, line and crossword puzzle.

So, when I opened the front door Sunday morning, there it was – all the news fit to print, encased in a transparent, orange bag. I caught myself breaking into a broad smile.

Doorstep delivery is far better than the digital version, advertised as “Just $5, for your first 12 weeks.” It promised “unlimited access to the world’s finest journalism – in an even more compelling new way.”

Stop right there.

What are compelling were Sunday’s nine separate sections. That’s 152 pages of print, not including the glossy Sunday magazine. I won’t read every word, but I could. And, as old-fashioned as it sounds, I can read any of it, at any time, at any place, without electricity or a power cord.

True, you could have read “Growing From Song to Spectacle” about musicians Cyndi Lauper and David Byrne on your tablet, but the advantage goes to readers of the print version. The story begins on the front of the Sunday Styles section, then continues inside on Page 14. Shrewd page designers “jumped” the story to two facing pages, both offering the text above 11-inch-by-10-inch color ads from Bergdorf Goodman. I didn’t know where to look first.

These connections are not happenstance.

Another story from the section cover looks into networking, California-style, in Santa Monica and Venice. Author Sheila Marikar wrote, “Hair had been meticulously coaxed into face-flattering waves, makeup freshly applied.”

Just as you imagine being able to see the subjects, the story continues 15 pages later, with four more photos and a color ad, hawking the latest purse from Burberry.

From this reader’s perspective, it feels as if I am an equal to those who have come to value the Times for its insight into modern culture and social trends. All this before I have studied Sports Sunday, featuring the Paralympics and the Wichita State mascot, all on the same front page.

Inside is a refreshing amount of college sports stories, possibly due to early deadlines for an edition delivered before dawn. Realistically, if I wanted to know scores of games played on Saturday, they’re easily found elsewhere. Yet, revelations regarding “WuShock,” the oddball mascot born six decades ago, are new to me. Isn’t that one of the reasons newspapers exist?

The news section is no less diverse, and turning paper pages is more enlightening than scrolling sterile screen after sterile screen. There are stories about Russia, Malaysia, France, Colombia, Denver and Boston. These stories run long and gray, possibly intended to cover the dining room table, if the weather outside is frightful. And as Page 27 is turned over, a leggy model from Bloomingdale’s alerts me to the fact that “life is fashion-packed” in a full-page ad.

There are no fewer than 67 photographs in the 22-page Arts & Leisure section, not counting stunning ads for plays and musicals in the Big Apple. Digital users see none of them.

The Book Review section is of less interest to me, yet it might be the sole means by which I could have known a new book has been written about Theodore Roosevelt. Additionally, author Joseph Tirella has penned a critical view of the 1964-65 World’s Fair appropriately titled, “Tomorrow-Land.” And all these years, I thought it was all about the Unisphere.

What was left for me on the front porch on Sunday was far from a disappointment. You can’t argue with the price. And I still don’t know where to look first.

David F. Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a group of community newspapers with a combined circulation of 286,500 readers. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at dsherman@beenews.com.


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