Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ink and Paper

Today I have a favor to ask you.  If you don't do it already (and perhaps, like me, you have your coffee-buttered roll-and-a-paper ritual down pat), will you buy a newspaper? A real newsprint version, that feels crumbly in your hands and gets your fingers all inky? I don't care if it's a rag or the paper of record, if it has a liberal or conservative bias.  Just buy a newspaper.

This post is in response to a post on another one of my group blogs, where there was an incipient discussion, although it got somewhat nipped in the bud because of mutual politeness, of a particular news station on American television.  Some folks don't like this particular news station; being the radical that I am, I maintain that all the 24-hour news stations are equally dreadful.  I do not use these words, equally dreadful, lightly.  These stations, whether liberally or conservatively oriented, do not really report the news that matters.  Or they'll latch onto a story for a few nights, and then, whether or not it's still relevant reporting, will drop it for something a little sexier and sparklier.  I won't go into specifics, but suffice it to say, there's a lot of stuff going on in the world and we should be kept apprised.

As a result, I have long boycotted the t.v. news.  I mean, and this is the truth, I simply do not watch the news on television.  Ever, ever.  Not anymore.  This is not a difficult achievement, as I don't really watch much t.v. at all.  However, poor Sarge still tunes in occasionally, and I will stumble upon him tearing his hair out, metaphorically.

Rather, I buy three of our local NYC papers every day.  The paper of record (The NY Times), the liberal rag (the Daily News), and the conservative rag (The NY Post).   The NYTimes has let me down more than once because of its decidedly liberal bent, which makes me, a serious professional iconoclast, arguer, free-thinker and non-line-tower, a bit uncomfortable.  But I'll give them a free pass because they also have a commitment to covering actual issues of import, and there are some kickass staff writers.

I worry about the fate of the ink-and-paper news.  I have no evidence for this, only anecdotal knowledge of the path we seem to be taking toward digital media.  My favorite NYC paper shut its doors only this past year, and the Times has increased prices to an insane degree.  So I have taken this up as my cause--I promise to more mindfully, rather than just testily, boycott the television news, to continue making my daily purchase of the papers...and even to read them!


Mr London Street said...

Maybe your papers are better than the ones in the UK. I can't wait for our traditional print media to die. There's far too much good stuff out there to read for free to give money to any of the Sunday papers.

MJ said...

But what about The Sun, Mr. Street?!

nyuck nyuck nyuck

savannah said...

every 3 months i dutifully call the 800 number for the nyt to see if i can get the weekend delivery and every 3 months i receive the same news, not in your area. so every sunday, i troop over the store and buy the nyt. we do have daily delivery of our local rag because i know how important it is to have a local paper. *sigh* i still read the los angeles times online along with a few other major papers. but, i know, we are a dying breed, sugar. xoxox

Leah said...

MLS--your interesting comment just prompted a long discussion in my household--to the effect of, why paper? We came up with a whole host of reasons why--and also of why not--the matter distilled is more a preference, I suppose. The t.v. yields nothing of worth, but perhaps online there are good sources--so the argument is then, paper or digital? and I guess in my family we just like paper. I sometimes fear that ultimately Kindle and crap like that will replace my darling books. It's all part and parcel with digital news. The other reason I don't go digital is that I cannot tolerate the format--the millions of distracting applications, the adverts that make it difficult to find the actual stuff. Again, I guess it's just preference, and I'm old-fashioned that way.

MJ--I had to google The Sun--ew. We've definitely got it's equivalent, in spades.

Leah said...

Savannah, I knew you were that sort...

blessings on ya


MJ said...

You missed out on the Jade Goody deathwatch.

Scarlet-Blue said...

Hmmm... as you can see we don't have a lot of choice. I still buy Sunday papers though. One 'good' one and one porno one. I'm talking emotional porno!

Leah said...

MJ--See what happens when one has highbrow pretensions? One misses all the fun.

Scarlet--emotional porno, yes exactly! My NY Post is emotional porno.

Mr London Street said...

It's interesting - I agree with you about books and CDs and photos. I like having something tangible to read or listen to. I still shoot with black and white film, for goodness' sake. But newspapers feel different. Partly because by their nature they are a disposable medium. And partly because I think the British press are truly dire, especially the "quality" press. I did a long ranting post about the Sunday papers in the UK some time back which I will link for you if you are interested (though it's full of bile).

Leah said...

MLS--actually, that's a good point--it is a disposable medium. I still like that awful feel of the paper on one's hands.

I will go check out your post, or leave a link. Actually, I have enormous problems with certain aspects of the Sunday NYTimes--I wonder if the problems are the same.

Well-placed bile and vitriole are not always such a bad thing...

PI said...

If we go out we buy a paper - other wise not. It's fun trying the DT crossword and I enjoy some of the articles in the Sundays. Ideally we would have the DT every day - my husband likes it and tabloids nauseate me.
The Sunday papers help some of us keep in touch.

Brian Miller said...

sadly our daily paper has become a few pages with little to talk about for 75 cents a day. each section is literally 3 pages...sad. i like words...i wish there were more in our papers. we get the sunday one every week...

Mr London Street said...

Leah - I won't clog your comments up with link spam but I posted it on May 25th, if you do check it out I'd be interested to see if your Sunday papers have the same problems.

BEAST said...

Ooooh I love The Sun .
We have an ex page three topless model working in our office . She is always spoken of with her full title 'Big Balloons Sue , The Page Three Stunna'
She is a very talented computer programmer it has to be said :-)

Mr. Shife said...

It will certainly be interesting to see how the newspaper industry evolves over the next few years. They need to do something fast because a lot of papers are falling by the way side. And don't even get me started on the 24-hour news channels. They use the terms news very loosely. Their days of being a watchdog and objective are way gone. It is very sad.

mapstew said...

I bought our 'local' today for the first time in yonks!
It's nice to sit and read in the quiet with a coffee or two.


The Clever Pup said...

While I don't buy a daily paper (just Saturday) because so much goes unread - Even in the tasteful Globe and Mail.I listen to commercial free CBC radio for my news and debates.

Anonymous said...

There is just one weekly in Germany, that is DIE ZEIT, good cultural and historical section, essays and stuff, I skip the economical part it may also be good. A german-speaking daily of interest is the NZZ (Neue Züricher Zeitung), I held the weekend-edition for some time, also very interesting feuilleton.
The daily is the local one and it is mostly crap, filled with news by the Agenturen (dpa, reuters etc.), it is really only interesting for the local part. The weekend-edition is a little better.
"Die Welt", especially the weekend-edition, may show a way out of the misere for European newspapers, very well designed and good feuilleton, politics etc., they have a lot of guest-writers and pay correspondents.
The newspaper of the future will have a digital part, a high quality printed (weekly? weekend?) edition, and a locally focused part. International news I get via web, bbc etc. and online-editions of illustrated magazines (STern, Spiegel, Merkur etc.)
I am sure, newspapers will survive. They will adapt.

Megan said...

D'you know the LA Times has an "Orange County" edition? I think I'll go out and get both versions this Sunday, and see if there really are any editorial differences. (The OC version supposedly has a more conservative slant.)

Ooh, fun Sunday Post Project!

(And when you say you don't watch TV news, please tell me you don't include Mr. Stewart & Mr. Colbert in that ban?)


Anonymous said...

I do a mixture- I read news online, and read papers occasionally- I love the crosswords, but the journalism is often as bad as on the tv news stations- so many inaccuracies reported; so much sensationalism.

The only paper I regularly buy is our local weekly- for the 'what's on' and 'gig guide'.

Ronda Laveen said...

One of the bloggers I check in on every so often is a journalist (in NY I think). He feels the the turn is away from print.

nick said...

We do a mixture too. The London Independent four days a week, plus the Irish Times at the weekend. I look at all the other serious UK dailies and the BBC online. I also watch BBC Newsnight and any intelligent TV documentaries. I like reading through a newspaper without having to keep hopping from one webpage to another but getting all the papers would be a mountainous read (and very repetitive) so I skim the others online. I'm a real news junkie, as you may have gathered.

Of course the quality of reporting varies hugely from superficial crap to discerning analysis but you can't get the second without wading through the first....

Karen ^..^ said...

Well, we can agree on one thing regarding this... The entire NEWS business is a sham. I hate when people label it as the liberal news or the conservative slant. It's all complete and utter garbage. I haven't watched the news since 9/11. I swear to you, I haven't. I'm not into being brainwashed by complete bullshit and lies. If I wanted to be lied to I'd go back to the Catholic church.

I apologize if my comment on the referenced post was a bit vitriolic, but I had a woman in my chair this past week who was spouting the most insane ranting drivel I'd ever heard, about how Obama is the new antichrist, how Bush was the best thing to happen to this country, how FOX news is the only one who tells the truth, etc. She also went on to use the "N" word in reference to Obama, several times. She professed to LOVE Glenn Beck, who I think is a dangerous fanatic, and bloodthirsty at that, and it took all my teeth grinding power not to respond to her ongoing hatred. Four years ago we were told to suck it up, support "our" president, and to quit crying. Now why are people like the one I just described screaming their conspiracy theories to the rooftops, and calling our president horrible things? If we had done this four years ago, we would have been severely taken to task.

Fair and balanced, is all I'm looking for. If I can't find it in the news, I simply will bury my head in the sand, and NOT WATCH any of it. That includes the liberal media as well.

They are all a bunch of criminals, all corrupt, and all laughing at us down here, arguing over which side is right. Why the hell are there only two sides? I thought Ron Paul would have made a brilliant president, but alas, that doesn't fit in with our "democracy".

Just my three cents.

Libertine said...

I do commit a crime of watching tv news, but always prefer to read them. I may be old fashioned, but it gives me more time to digest and rant before moving to the next topic.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

I read the Times online weekdays and hard copy on weekends, but I run it through a filter. They, like all newspapers, have a slant. I will be so sad to see newspapers fold but it’s inevitable. You can’t reverse this trend. I’m part of the problem. Four months of unemployment put the fear of God in me so after I found work I started trimming my budget. The NY Times is $2.00 per day. That’s about $60/month including weekends. It had to go.

Baino said...

Sorry Leah. Not a newspaper fan either. Besides the environmental impact they're largely full of rubbish here. We have no 24 hour news station but a load of tabloid style evening mazagine shows and our commercial news is 15 minutes news, 45 minutes sport! Drives me insane. I'm an online reader because I have access to news read in other countries. Interesting to see how other's perceive us. Most don't know we exist! The only newspapers doing well here really are the big weekend editions and the Australian, our only national newspaper but it has a right wing slant.

Leah said...

Beast--a Page Three Stunna! I want that paper.

Mr. Shife--my mom just told me that Philly may no longer have a daily paper...ergh. Yup, the 24-hour news channels are crap. There's just no way to argue to the contrary, is there.

Map--it is nice, isn't it? And Sarge and I like to open the NYTimes and get in a big argument every chance we get--it's actually quite stimulating to the brain and we usually end up agreeing but shouting in agreement, so that's fun. It's like a family activity!...wait, so did you buy the paper because of my post, or was it just coincidence? I'm curious.

Hazel--I think the radio is potentially an excellent source of news--I will sometimes get mine from the BBC news and world report when I'm listening to my jazz station, and it does seem pretty balanced.

mago--fascinating comment. I hope you're right about the survival of print news, and I like your vision for a newspaper that combines the best elements of everything. Now that I can get behind.

Megan--will you post on that? It would be interesting. Maybe you'll find there's not difference!

Re: I don't really dig Colbert and Stewart, but I do love that sidekick, now I can't think of his name, the one who shouts--he's hilarious.

Leah said...

Cinnamon--I agree, the newspapers can be crap too, but I want to save them anyway. I think in the end, the fact that many people do a combination of digital and print media points to a solution like Mago's--newspapers that are a combination of all of those, using the media that suit each area best...I love the puzzles too!

Ronda,--it certainly seems that way, so many papers just cannot stay afloat in print--I would be so very sad without my print news, hopefully they can adapt.

Nick--I would say that the consensus seems to be that a mixture of print, digital, radio, and tv gives the most comprehensive. I still love my print, but I think it's possible to get an even better (perhaps) perspective with a combination. I guess the main thing is to be a critical thinker...

Karen--whew! nice rant. Seriously, a rant is awesome sometimes. I agree with most of what you say, but I live in an oppressively liberal neighborhood where I feel that I'll be beaten with a 2x4 by rich guilty liberals if I talk negatively about Obama (and believe me I've got a lot to say that's negative)...not a lot of critical thinking seems to go on in my neck of the woods. But you know, if I were to find myself in a place where people were oppressive in the opposite direction (like the creepy woman screaming in your chair), I'd hate that too and would rebel!

I think in the end you're right, most of it's a load of crap. We just have to make sure we can think for ourselves, which, obviously, we do! And yeah--Ron Paul--I'm much more libertarian than anything else, too bad, he probably would have been good.

Libertine--no crime was committed in the watching of the tv news, lol! and you are so absolutely right--"more time to digest and rant"--a big part of my objection to the tv version of the news is that it's just too fast-paced!

UB--yeah, I hear you on the expense issue. The NYTimes is SO fucking expensive it's ridiculous. That is a problem that I don't lightly dismiss, because it's an issue for me too. The occasional purchase is probably the right happy medium.

Baino--yeah, we had discussed the environmental problem here this morning. I guess the solution to that is religious recycling and reuse of newsprint...it's interesting that so much time is devoted to sport on your tv news! We get generally 10 minutes at the end of a 1/2 hour local news show.

Megan said...

I am surprised at how much clearer my picture is of you - and just within the last 24 hours. Looking at my dishcloths as I type this.

Funny. I feel like I should send you a ridiculously confessional email, or something, to get back to balance.

Ok, now I'm babbling. Sorry, I've been cleaning the apartment and my endorphins are up...

How's that book coming? Send me some few chapters, whydontcha?


Suzanne said...

I knew you'd say something. I JUST KNEW IT!!! Ahhhhhhhhh, too funny! Oh, and by the way, where the hell's my dishcloth? Why does Megan get everything? Is she like the "golden child" or something? *Megan counts discloths. 1...2...3...4...*

You know it's funny because I love the NY Times. Love it and always have. My niece was once featured on the front page because she was in a wonderful school in Woodstock for gifted children. I especially like that story! I mean really, who couldn't? Look at her? She's gorgeous!!! Oh, and really smart!!! And the writing? Brilliant! I'd pay extra for the Times just because they were so generous to my niece and because I'm from NY. Ha!

I will buy the Times tomorrow and tell you what I think. You know, that's actually an interesting idea. Buy a paper, any paper and comment on an article.

I love you darling. You never disappoint. I knew for sure you'd find your voice. And yes, I'm smiling.

With a ton of love,
Moi XO

Anonymous said...

Thankfully we still get all the NYC papers in my area( you just have to know which store to go to ). As I avoid the telly news at all costs, I find myself to rely more on the printed word. The big problem is in how small the paper has gotten, especially in the past couple of years, as the newsies continue to find ways of cutting costs to survive.

Karen ^..^ said...

Leah, you'd be surprised, because I have a lot to say about Obama that isn't exactly positive either.

I hate all politicians. They simply CAN NOT get to where they are, and not be corrupt. They just can't.

As far as I'm concerned, they are all power hungry criminals. Each and every one of them.

Right up there with popes. Or should I say down?

Candie Bracci said...

Oh my dear Leah!You are raising a issue here that is heart's touching.Not only you are right about medias and news on TV but as well about the slow disappearance of the newspaper's industry,replaced by technology.I love old newspapers and books,but I'm afraid the world is changing and that newspapers are about to disappear,and perhaps books too.Not yet,but in future.Technology is replacing everything.What to do in that case?I don't know,we have to adapt I guess.But yes buying a newspaper is a beautiful thing today while they are still there.Love to you!Have a nice day,beautiful nostalgic writer :)

Leah said...

Karen--Amen. Amen! (is that a funny word choice?) Sarge and I talk ceaselessly about this topic--how politicians are always rich, most often lawyers--how the early founding fathers, many of them, were laborers, worked with their hands, were even farmers (!!!) some of them--and were therefore more in touch with "the people" (although this didn't include everyone as we know, but that's a subject for another time). How the politician sorts these days are totally and completely out of touch with everyone but the Fat Cats, and yet are supposedly representing us, the Commoners. It's truly enraging. I mean, really really infuriating. It's like they have no idea about how regular people live. And I am in total agreement--you don't get to high political power without some form of greed, lust, corruption, megalomania, you name it, they traffic in it. Bah humbug.

And you know, you are probably right to dismiss many of the supposed differences between "liberal" and "conservative"--it all boils down to one thing for me: rich.

Candie--You know just what I'm talking about, don't you! You are so right--I am nostalgic. So is my husband. It's sort of weird to feel nostalgic for something that existed in full flower until, like, the last five seconds, isn't it? Things are changing so fast...

CSI Seattle said...

I actually enjoy watching investigative news reports. I've learned so many interesting things about Michael Jackson, Kate and John, the Octagon Mom, and pedophiles.

The sad part is that while we as Americans should know all about these excellent people, who will always be remembered for their contributions to the world, we still have troops overseas that need to come home safely. We still have security issues for the entire world. We still have a major dent in the side of our economy, and a few other things.

But hey, ask the average person what's going on in the world and they'll tell you all about how Billy Mays died with cocaine in his system, and that Kate and Ashley are starting yet another clothing line.

I'll buy a newspaper, but only to read up on why Paula left American Idol.

Leah said...

Megan--I'd love a confessional letter! Alas, I so rarely receive one...The fact that your picture of me is so much clearer and you are still here visiting is very reassuring!

Suzy--the trick is to find my voice but still be at least a little bit polite about it. Sometimes I think my true voice is that of a Harpy on steroids!


Sub--you're right, actually--they have gotten thinner, haven't they. I guess the worry is that they will give up the actual news in favor of...well, something else...

which brings me to you Brian

CSI--this is why I always look forward to your comments. Your acerbity is always so well-placed and satisfying. Plus you make me laugh. Don't worry though--not at you, with you.

mapstew said...

Pure coincidence Leah.

Or was it?

Was you sendin' out de vibes maybe?



Suzanne said...


You're always polite. That's your flaw!!! Kick some ass once in a while. Start your own political blog! No, I'm not kidding. You'd rock.


P.S. *Suze looks around..."Where the hell are my discloths?"*

California Girl said...

Leah: I agree with what you say but I simply no longer have time to read a daily. I live in a small town with a very small daily, maybe 50 pgs on a big day. I zip through it looking for new advertisers to sell and/or news about exisiting ones.

I grew up reading two city newspaper, LA Times & LA Herald Examiner. We rec'd both. Dad thought the Times too liberal but Mother and I liked the Times better. I remember the leisurely way people read their newspapers in the morning before or during breakfast. The Herald was the evening paper so Dad looked through it in the evening. We also took the Valley Green Sheet, what was then known as a "suburban" paper. He read that too.

I grew up reading newspaper, listening to the radio and believing in Walter Cronkite. News as we knew it no longer exists. You might as well say goodbye to the crinkly pages of print you love because the funeral is underway. Radio is also undergoing bankruptcies, defaults, loss of talent and personnel and original programming from which they may not recover, at least in traditional form. As for tv, well, cable started the divisiveness and it's a free for all. Can't stand much of it except for shows that are relevant while still poking fun: The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, for example.

VE said...

It's kind of scary how many publications have shut down lately. I'd hate to see print die...

padraig said...

> D'you know the LA Times has
> an "Orange County" edition?
> I think I'll go out and get
> both versions this Sunday,
> and see if there really are
> any editorial differences.
> (The OC version supposedly
> has a more conservative
> slant.)

Speaking as someone who regularly read both, yes there are differences and yes the OC version is more conservative (although this is only reflected in the Opinion section, in which columns are normally represented).

We get the local daily paper (The Pasadena Star News), in spite of the fact that the sports page has atrocious coverage of national sports, because Kitty likes the local/community news. I read at least part of it every day. For a while I read the NYT and the LAT every day.

News "as we knew it" only existed temporarily. Print media used to be what 24 hour cable news is now (Hearst was a political machine, not a newsman).

The entire idea of having a real news department (independent reporting unconnected to advertising revenues or political pressure) came with the Big Three television networks, spread to newspapers from there, but it's leaving with them both.

tut-tut said...

Looking for Theme Thurs, but this is very interesting. We have what I consider to be a very good paper here, and it is delivered to my driveway each and every day. I couldn't do without it. Print will have to come up with some creative ways to continue to make money if they are to stay in business. I don't think maintaining a Web site in tandem is going to do it, however.

we got rid of our cable package BECAUSE of those MSNBC, CNBC, etc. What a time waster! All those talking heads saying the same thing literally morning, noon, and night!

Emerson Marks said...

I like the New York Times, Leah. They have some nice human interest stories. If I buy a Sunday paper it takes me a week to read it, but read it I do, even the bloody family section.