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No newsprint is good newsprint Aug 30

Stephen Tall, in his latest vidcast, ponders whether newspapers are dying a death, which has spurred me to finally recount the end of my long dalliance with theguardian.

I used to buy theguardian every day. I started five or six years ago, if I recall, and the paper provided something to read at lunchtime when I was away from a PC. When I started commuting a couple of years ago, I began buying a newspaper at the station and reading it on the train, filling half an hour with the day’s news (and the sudoku). On the way home, I’d read the rest and do the kakuro or the crossword. The print copy was preferable to the online version: you could write answers into the puzzles, see the cartoons, and it didn’t involve having a computer with internet access on the train. For all these reasons, I couldn’t see myself giving the paper up.

A couple of months ago, I became an ex-Guardian reader. Initially, I wanted to save cash and to divert my daily hour on the train to a couple of books. I never felt the urge to read the paper online – the website isn’t anywhere near as easy to navigate as the print version and I’ll automatically go to the BBC if I want news at a computer. There were still interesting stories carried, but big stories would be picked up by the BBC website – or by bloggers.

And this is where the big change occurred. Now I spend my commute catching up with blogs via my mobile phone. Nearly all of them load quite happily in Opera Mini (theguardian doesn’t – the long sidebar gets in the way, as do the ads). I can access Bloglines and check the feeds I’m subscribed to, and LibDem Blogs carried the latest posts from LibDems bloggers, at least one of whom will pick up on any worthy news stories. I can also check my email and go to the BBC mobile site for news and sport.

In the past, I couldn’t see myself reading the papers on the train on a handheld electronic widget, and yet this is almost what’s happened – but without reading the newspapers part. I no longer have to worry about turning the pages without hitting the person sitting next to me. The only cost is having to charge my phone battery more often as GPRS runs it down quite quickly, and the only occasional problem is passing through an area with no signal. I don’t feel I’m missing out, and I can even post comments to other blogs on the move. Hurrah for the twenty-first century.