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Take advantage of online newspapers, too

For me, there is no morning like Sunday morning. I usually wake up at around 6 a.m. (as I can never seem to sleep in, no matter how hard I try), and, just after throwing on a bathrobe so as to make myself decent, check my e-mail while no one else is awake to look over my shoulder and possibly infringe upon my privacy, and settle down with a book until 7 o'clock, when the paper arrives.

At 7, I run barefooted out to the mailbox and grab the Sunday paper, wincing at every rock that my feet hit on the gravel driveway. After retrieving the newspaper, I run inside, seat myself on my favorite chair and begin reading. I ashamedly admit that it is almost a knee-jerk reaction for me to immediately turn to the page where my column is located, and see what size the headline over my column is and whether it is featured above or below the fold.

It seems ludicrous, I know, but these things matter. Believe me, they matter.

I usually don't bother to read my own column in print, just the headline, but I do read what the other columnist on the "Wave" has to say, and then proceed on to other sections of the newspaper, starting with the "Opinion" page and continuing to the obituaries and so on and so forth. In fact, the only section of the newspaper that I usually bypass is the "legal notices," which I find to be a little dry, at least for early morning reading.

Yes, I love to read the paper in print, with its different sized headlines and ink that makes your fingers turn gray until you wash them. You can feel the pages, hear them crinkle when they turn and smell the newsprint. There is, however, another form of reading the paper which is less tangible but also more up-to-date and, in a sense, more alive.

Most, if not all, newspapers post a version of their newspapers online for people to view free of charge. Some papers only have certain sections available at no charge on the Internet, and charge a subscription fee for people who wish to view the entire newspaper online, but Detroit Lakes doesn't.

The various articles have "post-a-comment" links under them, where people can type in their thoughts or opinions of the articles and have them available for anyone to see. This is where the alive part comes in.

While a physical newspaper is inert and unchangeable, an online paper is constantly being updated and commented on. This makes for some very interesting reading.

For example, there was a controversy a while back involving a school-bus driver (you probably remember this) directing the kids from a certain mobile home park to a particular section of his school-bus, thus supposedly segregating them from the other children. The mother of one of the kids from the mobile home park felt this was unfair.

I don't remember how the situation resolved, but it certainly made for some interesting reading, as close to 150 people commented on just a single article pertaining to the case.

Columns can also tend to attract comments, although, for better or worse, the one you are reading now does not generally do so. One time, a column (not mine) that off-handedly mentioned the Union in a favorable light was lambasted by two people from the south who went on and on about how the Confederates should have defeated the Union.

I guess the Southerners must still be a little bitter about that whole Civil War thing.

I find it interesting that individuals from the Deep South take the time to read columnists from northern Minnesota at all. In fact, after these two rantings, somebody else (not necessarily from the south) completed the trio with a comment something to the effect of "well, [name], it looks like you're going national!"

There are a couple of individuals that I like to call The Criticizers that make the online community especially interesting. They seem to have made a career out of insulting people, and will use a combination of coarse language and classless degradation and hollow threats to get their point across. If you do choose to post a comment online, your comment and your character may be disparaged and crushed for the entire world to see.

Just ignore these types, though, and you'll be fine. Everyone else does.

The next time something in any newspaper angers or pleases you, instead of taking your feelings out on your dog, cat, kids or spouse, find your way to the online version, and vent your frustrations or elations there. Not only will your family be happier, you will feel satisfied knowing that your opinion is being made available for anyone to read and react to.

Just be courteous, show class and don't let The Criticizers get you down.

Nathan Kitzmann will be a sophomore at Detroit Lakes High School this fall.