Idealist 11-year-old gets praise for wasting time and energy on print media

If you believe everything you read on the internet, print isn’t merely dying, it’s already dead and buried, with loved ones occasionally stopping by with flowers to mourn the departed.

These statements are laced with a trace of hyperbole, because while digital is the future and quickly becoming the gold standard for most forms of media, print it isn’t dead yet. Books, popular magazines and prestigious newspapers still have life in them, yes, but businesses and professionals who refuse to acknowledge this fact and adapt to the tidal wave of digital media will assuredly drown in the wake.

In other words, don’t congratulate a 11-year-old Eli Boardman on the 200th issue and 5-year anniversary of his neighborhood newspaper, because that would only be enabling him. People may say that there is nothing wrong with a kid having a hobby, but 200 issues is far beyond a hobby — somebody takes this seriously, whether it’s the kid himself or his parents. If news is important to this kid, letting him continue a newspaper instead of teaching him the fundamentals of the internet is a detriment.

Millions of kids start newspapers like Eli’s “Boardman Camera” every week. I was one of them. As precocious and bored little tykes, me and my neighbor Annmarie made a one-page newspaper for all the happenings on our extremely quiet suburban street. The only content I remember was interviewing the nice elderly woman who lived down the street. We typed up the draft on my friend’s Gateway computer, and probably thought we were changing the world. Then our attention span waned.

Mr. Boardman is different, he’s committed to this thing. According to an article praising the young man, he is the publisher, editor, reporter, illustrator, ad salesman, circulation manager and distributor for his newspaper, which makes it sound like he’s cold calling the local deli for ad revenue instead of playing outside, as most 11-year-olds are prone to do.

If Boardman’s taking this so seriously, why isn’t someone teaching him use the tools of internet, beyond the outdated, and quite frankly obnoxious, form of e-mail newsletters? Why do we instead have a print newspaper praising him and encouraging his efforts, when someone should be teaching this kid basic HTML, the importance of Twitter or how to start a simple blog?

I probably sound incredibly critical here, but I honestly don’t think the Boulder Daily Camera is doing Boardman any favors by featuring his newspaper milestone. While this project may be teaching him the values of hard work and responsibility, he could also be getting a head start on the future of publishing — instead of relishing in the past.Living in the typewriter era isn’t going to do anyone any favors.

Disclaimer: This piece is not meant to knock Eli Boardman’s ingenuity and work ethic, both of which far surpass my own.

[Boulder Daily Camera]