Old News

Raised on newspapers, our columnist ponders the election-season news cycle in a print-deprived world

By Amy Silverman | PHOENIX Magazine

Illustration by Cedric Cummings

Some of my best friends are librarians. This comes in handy when I’m looking for a new graphic novel for my kid or searching for the etymology of a word – and when I’m having an existential crisis over how I should be consuming the news.

This fall, I paid a visit to my friend, Sativa Peterson, who has one of the best jobs I can imagine – newspaper librarian for the state of Arizona. She spends her days in a chilly warehouse that holds the state’s largest collection of newspapers, dating back more than 100 years.

For Sativa, old news is good news. In her office, we carefully turn pages of bound copies of her hometown newspaper, The Winslow Mail, and look on microfilm at publications created in 1940s-era Japanese internment camps and at the state prison, circa 1930.

“Reading the old newspapers, you just get to see a diversity of voices and viewpoints, and how each of these towns had a distinct set of ways they celebrated, and things they held dear… And it’s all in the paper,” Sativa says. But that’s not really why I’m here. I’m trying to figure out how to tackle the 2020 election season when it comes to media consumption.

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