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Column: Take your eyes off the screen, see the sunrise

Cabo Real, Mexico Some reflections at the end of 2012 — as I watch a Mexican sunrise. • My favourite newspaper headline at year end is “Past Imperfect, Future Tense.

Cabo Real, Mexico

 

Some reflections at the end of 2012 — as I watch a Mexican sunrise.

• My favourite newspaper headline at year end is “Past Imperfect, Future Tense.”

You can use that headline just about every year for every situation: the economy, the NHL, the weather, global warming or, on a more personal level, the dodgy squid I ate last night.

The headline certainly fits for newspapers. The industry has had a very imperfect 2012 and faces a tense future. The old paradigm — of printing a newspaper and having a paperboy drop it on your doorstep — is changing by the nanosecond. Millions of people got tablets for Christmas, whether iPads or Androids, and read their news instantly. News didn’t take a day off on Christmas Day.

Here I am in Mexico enjoying not just the Times Colonist, but also newspapers from the U.K. and the United States. And, yes, some online-only aggregators such as The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast. All thanks to my iPad.

We in the news business are as baffled and concerned by this paradigm shift as anyone else.

Yet change is constant and adapting to change is something we all need to do. Or get trampled in the rush to Future Shop.

The iPad is less than three years old. The news revolution it has helped spawn is unbelievable. Yes, the news business has a tense future. And many print editions of newspapers may not be around 50 years or even 20 years from now.

But many digital editions of newspapers are — and it’s heresy for an old newspaperman to say this — far superior to the print editions. Less tactile, sure, but more interactive, more energetic, less static.

They still have well-written news, well-argued commentary and even crosswords, cartoons and Sudoku. The move from print to pixel is irrevocable. That said, I used to like being called a newspaperman. Digitalman doesn’t quite have the same romantic ring. I feel like a robot.

• We lost some big names in 2012: Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who left footprints on the moon and an indelible impression on our lives. Ravi Shankar, who taught George Harrison the sitar and broadened the music of our lives. Davy Jones, who Monkeed around.

Sylvia Kristel, who with Emanuelle brought soft porn into the mainstream. Nora Ephron, the witty, smart writer of Heartburn. Stylish Vidal Sassoon and crazy Phyllis Diller. Another Bee Gee. Sci-fi author Ray Bradbury and TV oilman Larry Hagman, the smooth Andy Williams and the super-talented Marvin Hamlisch.

I hadn’t realized the writer Maeve Binchy had died until I saw a list of 2012 obituaries last week. She was a clever, middle-brow, hugely popular writer who could spin a story beautifully.

• Gangnam dancing was the rage of 2012, this year’s Twist, made viral by the Internet. They dance it everywhere, particularly in Mexico.

What goes around, comes around. You can’t stop laughing when Gangnam starts playing. You couldn’t stop smiling when Chubby Checker started twisting like we did last summer.

If you haven’t heard or seen One Pound Fish yet, you need to keep up. It’s the new rage — a London fish-seller singing and selling his fish. He now has a huge record contract. You can find it on YouTube. It’s all the rage. For the next 10 seconds, anyway.

• I don’t make ambitious New Year’s resolutions much any more because I usually fail miserably. I want to go to the gym three days a week, but life keeps getting in the way.

Life and procrastination.

But I do have small goals for 2013. To be kinder to people and to the planet. To listen more. To eat less meat. And squid.

Mostly, to spend less time looking at a screen and more time experiencing the real world. That’s what too many of us probably did in 2012 — looked at screens at work and at play. And what too many of us will do in 2013.

If I’d been looking at a screen all morning, I would have missed a spectacular sunrise. Enough said. Where’s the off switch?

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