I'll admit it: Even I, a lifelong newspaper person, sometimes blow off the morning paper.

I figure I"ll catch up on my phone or laptop later, and I usually do, scanning the major headlines and checking Twitter for updates.

Here's why that's stupid, for me and for you:

When I (or you) read the actual newspaper, I find things I would never seek out or notice online.

This morning, the front page of the Star Tribune featured a piece by veteran reporter Randy Furst on a Brooklyn Park man being accused of trying to overthrow the Gambian government.

It's a fascinating read, and not just because the code name he gave one of his cohorts was - I'm not making this up - ``Dave.''

The United States government is prosecuting a Gambian man who tried to overthrow what he believes to be a corrupt and sinister government in is home country. It's a movie plot spelled out on the front page of your local paper, with great details provided by Furst.

Also on our front page: Oil dipping below $50 a barrel, which could mean - get this - American families could have $115 billion more to spend this year in disposable income.

Also on the front page: Science proves that cold weather does indeed increase the strength of cold viruses.

In sports, on a slow news day, we have a perspective piece by David La Vaque on the dearth of female high school hockey coaches in girls hockey, and Phil Miller's interview with the always-entertaining Eddie Guardado on his inclusion on the Hall of Fame ballot.

On Page 2, we have a Nuggets nugget from Michael Rand on one of my favorite topics: Modern coaches' efforts to re-think traditional approaches. NBA and NHL teams hold shoot/skate-arounds the mornings of games in part to keep their players from staying out all night. Now the Nuggets are finding that their players are staying out anyway, and considering scrapping the morning shootaround so their players have time to sleep.

Here's my grander point:

None of those are stories I would have sought out online, and they may be my favorite stories of the day.

Somewhere along the line, newspapers became uncool. So my suggestion to modern readers is to look at the newspaper not as a newspaper, but as an amazingly cheap service: A printout of online stories you might love, and might have otherwise missed.

I've read a lot of studies that make the case that people are far better informed when they read the newspaper than when they rely on other outlets for information. It's easy to see why.

-On a completely different note, I found the words ``panic button'' in at least two stories this morning.

People: There is no such thing. I've never seen one. Asking an athlete or coach if it's time to push ``the panic button'' is inane and pointless. What is the best possible answer you will get to that question? Stop it. Thank you.

-Interesting week. I'll be at the Gophers-Ohio State game tonight and at Wild-Blackhawks on Thursday. It's rare to have two important games in hockey or basketball in early January, but these qualify.

-Wednesday night, Twins general manager Terry Ryan will be my guest at Kieran's Irish Pub, across from Target Center, at 5 p.m. for my podcast. You can listen live or anytime to that and my other podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com. Thank you.

@Souhanstrib.

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