Tomorrow is Sunday, the day I used to always start by reading the local paper. It’s been more than two years since I read the newspaper anywhere but online. Every day of the week, I sit down at the computer to begin my day by reading the feeds of local and national news sources. Throughout the day, I peek at the feed reader to read news reports. Since I have five children, I spend a large part of my day in the car. For this reason, I get news alerts sent to my phone. They come from a major news source and I also get them from my local paper. I am seriously considering eliminating the local newspaper’s phone alerts. Today at 10:31, the local paper sent me the message “Out of the fire – and into thin air“. At 10:31, I’ve been up for hours and read all of the local and national news feeds. What was the message about? Knoxvillians are still mumbling about a large warehouse fire that occurred a few weeks ago but there have been several homes lost in a wildfire just outside of Knoxville. That SMS message could have referred to either story, but it told me nothing and it wasn’t breaking news. I didn’t get an SMS when either of those fires was actually happening. In fact, I don’t get anything from the local newspaper when local news is breaking. I only get the mid-morning SMS of the day’s headline. Sometimes the headlines aren’t even news. They are fluffy PR pieces. I’ve tried telling the newspaper that they should have an actual human being choose what and when SMS messages are sent, but they don’t seem to understand the purpose or point of sending out breaking news via SMS. Instead, they are treating the service like a promo to sell newspapers. People who get news, stocks, sports scores or other SMS messages are techno geeks who follow news online in mainstream outlets, blogs and IRC before newspapers even start their presses. Instead of complaining about declining readerships, local papers need to change the way they reach their readers. My parents generation is the last generation that will rely on newspapers for their information about local and national events. When I was a child, we studied the newspapers one day a week in school. My children study computers and the Internet at school. I would get better coverage of breaking local news if KnoxViews offered an SMS service.