Is Out Of Town News On Its Way Out?
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And while we're on the topic of Harvard, we bring you news of the possible demise of a landmark in Harvard Square. The Out of Town newsstand is right there in the middle of the square. Its owners say they may shut down because people are getting their news online. Here's NPR's Tovia Smith.
TOVIA SMITH: It's just a little brick building with a distinctive arch in its old green roof that stands in the heart of Harvard Square. But Out of Town News is to folks around here way more than just a newsstand.
Ms. THERESE SCHULMAN: I've been coming every 25 years, kind of as a soul thing.
SMITH: 45-year-old Therese Schulman comes to buy hard-to-find magazines on photography, guitars, and computers. She sees the newsstand as a home of sorts.
Ms. SCHULMAN: I've met friends. I met my boyfriend here, and we've been together 13 years. You know, it would really be horrible to see it go.
Mr. DAVE ALGER: If we lose this place - I'm (unintelligible).
SMITH: Dave Alger(ph) from northern Massachusetts has also been coming here for decades.
Mr. ALGER: The only place I can get my favorite English bike racing magazine.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SMITH: One patron calls the newsstand the crossroads of the universe. Indeed, next to Alger, a guy named Rob is grabbing the Economist. There's a guy named Steve checking the Irish papers for rugby scores, and a retired teacher, Margaret Gillerman(ph), is picking through her favorites.
Ms. MARGARET GILLERMAN: Der Spiegel. Brigita.
SMITH: This is a little piece of home for you.
Ms. GILLERMAN: Yes it is.
SMITH: You're from...
Ms. GILLERMAN: (Unintelligible), Germany.
SMITH: As news spread here today that the newsstand maybe closing, there were literally gasps.
Mr. REGINALD BROWN: Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness.
SMITH: Reginald Brown(ph) has been coming here for decades, since he was a student. He buys Air and Space magazine. His wife buys anything from her native Britain. But folks like them are fewer these days as more people get their news online. Add in that fewer people are buying cigarettes, and Hudson News, which has been operating Out of Town news for 12 years, says the business model just isn't viable anymore. To many patrons, like teacher Katie Fry(ph), newsstands closing would represent the end of an era in many ways.
Ms. KATIE FRY: To get rid of this would just - Harvard Square is becoming like a suburban strip mall more and more.
SMITH: As artist David Schuck puts it, the newsstand was always as much about the people as the papers.
Mr. DAVID SCHUCK: You know, half of it is about the conversations you have, and it's the community that people coming to find news.
SMITH: What do you think will go in here?
Mr. SCHUCK: Oh, not a bank, I hope.
SMITH: Might be a perfect place for an ATM.
Mr. SCHUCK: They don't like that idea.
SMITH: Or as another patron put it, here comes Starbucks. Tovia Smith, NPR News.
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