How broadsheet newspapers made me feel old

It’s the 25th anniversary of the school I teach at being open this year. Yesterday my editors were in the formative stages of planning an issue of our newspaper to commemorate this august achievement of existence.

They happened upon the idea of doing the issue in the format of the newspaper when the school opened. In the 17 years, I’ve been at Francis Howell Central, the paper has been in the traditional broadsheet, a tabloid and now a newsmagazine style. So, they were wanting to give it that old-school flair. Which is not only a good idea but definitely something close to my heart.

Every newspaper I worked at prior to becoming a teacher was a broadsheet. I grew up becoming one with the Chicago Tribune (and to a lesser extent the Sun-Times) every morning.

As we started brainstorming, the kids asked me to pop up on our SMART board some images of this type of paper so they could have an idea of what the pages might look like. Which I did. But then I asked if they wanted to look at some examples.

You’d have thought I had a valuable stash of antique treasure I’d told them about. So I grabbed some of the papers I’d collected from various Chicago sports milestones, like when hell froze over and the Cubs won a World Series.

As I put a few papers in front of them, and they started to open them a bit, it was … weird.

I say this with all the respect of a group of students I love, but they didn’t know how to work a broadsheet newspaper. And when I say work, they couldn’t figure out the easiest way to open it and progress from the front page to the next one.

Broadsheets are big. Not back in the 1940’s big, but they’re a bit unwieldy to read through. But compared to the newsmagazines they’ve likely seen most of their lives, they were enormous. Watching them try to look through the papers was a bit amusing to me, but mostly, it just made me feel old.

I’m 46. While I’m no longer sprightly, I don't consider myself old. Most of the people I encounter during the day are teenagers, which truly usually helps me feel younger than these 46 years. Perhaps physically I’ve lost a step or twelve, but mentally, I still feel razor-sharp.

So as I watched a group of 17-year-olds manhandle these newspapers, it made me feel old. I’ve noticed that as I’ve gone through life, it’s never been things that have happened to me that have made me feel old, but it's the things that happen to others.

When my brother turned 30, that was the first time I kind of felt that “Am I old?” question pop into my head (he’s almost three years younger than me). It was the same thing with the broadsheets.

If the younger generation sees this object that has been fundamentally important to shaping my life as a relic, what does that make me?

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