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Old 12-07-2009, 07:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Reading Newspapers: Erudite or Luddite?

The times are a changin'.

Who knew that this would happen? Newspapers are slowly dying, and some are as good as dead. The industry has to change their business models to keep up with the "webification" of our culture. Those who have succeeded have a strong web presence: blogs, video, podcasts, interactive features, constant updates, etc.

But they still print newspapers. You know...on actual paper.

The last time I regularly read actual newspapers was just before the turn of the millennium when I was still in college. I was a bit of a news junkie, as I was studying marketing and business. I was even addicted to reading the now-defunct Business 2.0. So I had a bit of a mix of traditional media and new media. But that was then; this is now.

After many years of going light on the news (i.e. a notorious headline-reader), I'm starting to read news more heavily again. This is mainly because I'm returning to my business-oriented mindset now that I'm studying for a securities course and am making a push for a career change.

The problem? I hate reading text at length online. I see problems of contained units of meaning with such a multifaceted browsing experience that is online news. You have links, video, related content. You don't have a newspaper, you have the entire Internet tempting you to click away to the next page.

You need to spend the time to manipulate your computer and the content to get it where you want it to take it in, and that can be easily distracting. Maybe I'm old-school, but I like the idea of sitting down and consuming the pages of a newspaper without such a fragmented experience. Newspapers require your undivided attention and I tend to get down to the details more. It generally is a more relaxed and engaging reading experience.

I remember getting so much more out of reading a newspaper than I ever did browsing news online. I don't see this as a matter of choosing one over the other necessarily though. I could see online news as a supplement to reading news traditionally. Say I read the Toronto Star. I perhaps will want to follow up on a few things I've read. Well, Google News is perfect for that. I can read alternative stories from different publications around the world or opinion pieces with differing points of view simply by typing in the keywords.

Google News has been my starting point for a while now, but maybe it isn't the starting point I want. I want something more self-contained first--something like a newspaper.

So, yeah, I just subscribed to the Toronto Star.

With all of this in mind, does this make me more of a luddite or more erudite?

We have threads on "Where do you get your news?" but I don't think we've discussed at length a focus on the differences between reading news online and reading it in a traditional newspaper.
  • What are your reading habits in this regard?
  • What is your opinion of each (online and on paper)?
  • Do you see yourself changing your habits any time soon?
  • How have your habits changed over time?
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Old 12-07-2009, 07:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Baraka_Guru View Post


So, yeah, I just subscribed to the Toronto Star.

With all of this in mind, does this make me more of a luddite or more erudite?
Luddite. All their columnists are about 60 years old.
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:06 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I love the smell of a newspaper, much like how I love the smell of books. The aroma of ink on paper has always been intoxicating for me. I know this isn't really what you are asking, but it's part of the experience. I think the smell of a newspaper is what persuaded me to major in journalism.

I used to be strictly print. I think I thought I was going to save the industry by being loyal to newsprint. I have waved my white flag and now read online. My mind has been retrained to only get the gist of what's going on now. I am very bad for just reading headlines. It's easier for me to scour the headlines in my google reader and select the story I wish to read in depth.

Because I am not the only person who does this, the writing style has changed to cater to the online reader. It seems choppier to me and not as meaty. The common online reader doesn't like to scroll down too far for a story or click to another page.

The best benefit of online news is the timeliness. I can get the most recent news at my fingertips. By the time the newspaper is printed, it's old news. So for instant gratification, I turn to the web. I will read soft news in print. It's not necessary that those stories be as up to date as hard news.

I do love online archives, but am a sucker for a good microfiche search! I call the microfiche reader in Kings Library at Miami U my college boyfriend. Ah Mic, we had some good times together back in those stacks.....
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:07 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I read the physical newspaper on Sundays and whenever I see one when I'm out and about. I'm a voracious reader, and newspapers keep the fires fed.

One thing I like about getting my news online is that I can read three newspapers easily--the local newspaper, the Oregonian, and the New York Times--without subscribing to all three and spending $. I don't mind reading text online.

For me, reading the newspaper is an important part of my day, even if it is online. My dad read the paper every day when I was growing up. I would feel weird if I didn't read the newspaper.

So I guess my answer to the question of "Erudite or Luddite" would be: both!
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:08 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by highthief View Post
Luddite. All their columnists are about 60 years old.
Nice. I'm not subscribing for the columnists, though even senior columnists have interesting things to say. C'mon, give them more credit.

And it's not like I'm going to subscribe to the Globe for Leah McLaren....

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZombieSquirrel
I love the smell of a newspaper, much like how I love the smell of books. The aroma of ink on paper has always been intoxicating for me.
I'm a tactile reader as well. I think this has a lot to do with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snowy
One thing I like about getting my news online is that I can read three newspapers easily--the local newspaper, the Oregonian, and the New York Times--without subscribing to all three and spending $. I don't mind reading text online.
This is more or less my point. I'm still going to read things by the Globe and the Financial Post, in addition to Bloomberg, BBC, etc. The newspaper is more or less going to be my news "launch point."
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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We still get the Philadelphia Inquirer and the NY Times delivered every day and I look through them almost every day...sometimes more of a skim, other times a more indepth experience. But I also glance at online news a couple times a day...I have my preferences set for which sources come up on my google news page, then my Verizon home page starts out with their news although it's no where near as good as my setup on google...and from google I'll jump to whatever news source happens to catch my interest with a report or story.

For me, I don't see online news ever completely taking over my news reading...the comment above about something being different about reading a screen vs a paper is true for me. I don't know if there is something organic about reading a paper, book, magazine, all of which I still do quite often, and these formats give me something that's missing with just reading a screen. One of the guys I work with keep blabbing about how great his Kindle thing is...but the idea of reading all that stuff on yet another screen just does not appeal to me at all.
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I've never been one to enjoy those newspapers that are so large it takes all day to read, but I do read our local newspaper every morning. Red never picks it up except to bring it inside the door. If there is something I think he should read I will put the paper in his hands and say, "You need to read this". He relies on me to let him know when we will have garbage pickup during the holidays, who died, and, most important, what streets will be closed for repair. That is important in a college town when traffic on certain days and during certain hours is like evacuating the coast during a hurricane. Other than that we are stictly online news. I visit several sites for my fix on the nation and the world, and because we play trivia I always pay close attention to those zany current events bits.
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:52 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Luddite. All their columnists are about 60 years old.

Hah! But the only columnist that I like in the Star is Damien Cox. Otherwise I only subscribe to the Saturday Edition so that the kids can get their colour comics & crosswords.

I find that reading online is good for short periods of time and for quick updates. And the Star is good for that, their stories and reporting rarely goes much deeper than the Sun. It's also fun to read user comments in the online version.

However: I do like to relax over the paper, with a coffee, and sit in the morning sunshine (like yesterday during the kid's hockey practice). It's hard to do that with a laptop (battery, glare, wifi access issues). So i find it comforting and practical to go oldschool with the paper most of the time.
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I have always been cheap about the newspaper. I don't really know why.

I read the paper when it is available. Now, I read it in the lunchroom since work provides copies.

I hate the dirty fingers it gives me, but I still like the lack of distractions that reading a newspaper has. When I hold it up it blocks my entire field of view from EVERYONE. There isn't any stupid moving advertisements or dancing shadows telling me to refinance my house. It's primarily easily digestible and while articles can split to another page, it is easily found and no more extra advertisements jump onto my screen. Yes, I use an ad blocker but still, sometimes I don't.
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Old 12-07-2009, 10:11 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I find that reading online is good for short periods of time and for quick updates. And the Star is good for that, their stories and reporting rarely goes much deeper than the Sun. It's also fun to read user comments in the online version.
Agree - I still browse online for local news once a day.
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Old 12-07-2009, 10:25 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Nice. I'm not subscribing for the columnists, though even senior columnists have interesting things to say. C'mon, give them more credit.

And it's not like I'm going to subscribe to the Globe for Leah McLaren....
Coming up after this: Fresnelly's encapsulation of Every Leah McLaren Artical Evar.

I subscribe to the Globe And Mail and read it every morning. I relish the immersion of a paper which is different than immersing yourself online.

I have a fairly strict routine of exploring my morning paper.

I start with the Review (Arts and entertainment) section by scanning through it for interesting headlines until I get to the Comics page. I start with Bizarro and end with Pearls Before Swine. Then I flip back to the front of the review section and read the articles of the intersting headlines and then one final scan for anything I miss.

Then I move onto the Main section, starting with the Letters and Editorials at the back and then flipping to the Toronto section. Then I scan through the rest of section for whatever interests me.

Then I'll etc etc...

The point I'm getting at here is not that I'm obsessive compulsive but that a newspaper gives me a lot of control over how I consume and digest the content.

This, I like.

News on the internet is sorted more by popularity and each article seems to compete with another for your attention. All the Gossip and Hard news is generally mashed together onto one page.

And sometimes the story is only available in a video link so instead of allowing you to scan through for the bare facts or a quote or read between the lines, now you may have to wait for a commercial to run and swooping graphics to fly by and a bunch of Anchor BS and a hit of who produced the video and, and, and...

Further more, I think much of Internet content is just followup "What does SoandSo think?" BS whereas Newspapers (who only get one shot at distilling the content) must create a more comprehensive account. The internet can just fill in the details later and hey did you hear about the top 10 most romantic movies of the past decade?

So yay for boring old newspapers!

And now for a summary of every Leah McLaren Article:

INTRODUCTION: There's an interesting trend growing amongst Celebrities and my Urbanite friends.

BODY: But you know, there's something about the old fashioned way that still appeals to me, and perhaps there's something we can learn from it.

CONCLUSION: I think I'll hold on to some of the old way but indulge in this new way just a little bit.
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Old 12-07-2009, 10:30 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fresnelly View Post
Coming up after this: Fresnelly's encapsulation of Every Leah McLaren Artical Evar.

[...]

And now for a summary of every Leah McLaren Article:

INTRODUCTION: There's an interesting trend growing amongst Celebrities and my Urbanite friends.

BODY: But you know, there's something about the old fashioned way that still appeals to me, and perhaps there's something we can learn from it.

CONCLUSION: I think I'll hold on to some of the old way but indulge in this new way just a little bit.
Ha! That is pretty much it.

I must say, though, that I'm more than just a little bit jealous of your Globe. I subscribed to the Star because it's cheaper to begin with, plus they had a deal: 50% off for 6 months. (The Globe is about $0.50 more per week at regular prices.)

I do prefer the Globe. That's what I read in college. If money were no object, I'd have subscribed. But I find it is a bit out of reach at the moment. Maybe when I get my finances under better control, I'll swtich over. Maybe I'll do it when the 6-month deal runs out. Who knows? In the meantime, I'm just after the news in general...and in a newspaper format.
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Old 12-07-2009, 10:47 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I'm old fashioned. Yeah, I know. Big surprise. But, for me, I still like printed books and newspapers. There is something warm and almost living about a book or a newspaper. I cannot fathom, for the life of me, curling up on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, under a blanket, with a hot cup of coffee...with a Kindle. It's cold, lifeless and unfeeling. I like sitting at the kitchen table, reading a newspaper. Too me, the online version of the newspaper is too...busy. There's just too much stuff on a web page that is vying for my attention. Somehow, I don't feel as in control. I feel rushed somehow, and I'm tired of being rushed.

The internet is a marvelously wonderful thing. I have information at my fingertips that would have taken me weeks to glean 20 years ago. I can pay all of my bills, do some shopping, balance my checkbook, check on my investments, order a pizza and still have most of my day left. I can talk to interesting people, and a few dickheads as well, from all over the world. I can hear the opinions of those who differ from me, and gain an understanding of why they feel the way that they do. Yep, it's a wonderful thing. But, I think that we sold a bit of our souls to get here. And, I sometimes wonder if it's worth it.


Ok...I'm done editorializing now.
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Old 12-07-2009, 10:52 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Bill O'Rights View Post
[...] the online version of the newspaper is too...busy. There's just too much stuff on a web page that is vying for my attention. Somehow, I don't feel as in control. I feel rushed somehow, and I'm tired of being rushed.
I noticed this today while thinking about it more.

I was at the Business landing page for thestar.com, and there were over a dozen articles: just a bunch of headlines plus partial lead sentences. They were all screaming "click me." Then you have the side bars with all the other navigational junk you can click.

So I could, I suppose, click on each article and read them. But it's the organization of this that slips between my fingers. Do I use multiple tabs? Do I click back and forth? How do I know if I haven't missed any of them? It all seems too randomized and amorphous. At least you know the newspaper won't change on you unless you turn the page, fold it, write on it, or start clipping articles.
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Knowing that death is certain and that the time of death is uncertain, what's the most important thing?
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Old 12-07-2009, 11:02 AM   #15 (permalink)
 
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I snag newspapers out of the recyclings bins,
because the the little dog that lives with me cannot tolerate freezing temps.
(no outside potty)

I'm always searching for more 'Princy's papers'

Sometimes I purposely put a particularly offensive article on top,
and get a vicarious kick out of him pissing on it.
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Old 12-07-2009, 11:04 AM   #16 (permalink)
 
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it's kinda interesting, maybe, that this thread happen on the same day as 56 newspapers from around the world publish the same editorial concerning the big meetup in copenhagen on climate change...a collective action that i think indicates the extent to which the self-conception of newspapers (the internal viewpoint, say) has shifted to webspace even as any publisher trade journal you happen to look at (should you happen to) is full of articles about how to "monetize" the web. that little spat between ruper murdoch, everyone's favorite reactionary dullard charles foster kane, and google was obviously another sign of the times in this sector.


anyway:
* What are your reading habits in this regard?

i don't think that reading a physical paper makes anyone either erudite or a luddite.
for me the format i choose is usually a situational matter. some papers i prefer in hardcopy---like le monde diplomatique--because there's more information.
and le monde diplo has minimal adverts, so the irritation that often sets in while reading those tiny columns of information about, say, war in afghanistan that track around the borders of giant fashion adverts in the ny times never sets in.

i have a cycle of about 6-8 papers that i move through online more or less every day. ny times, guardian, washington post, financial times, le monde, libération. sometimes le monde diplo, sometimes slate or alternet. for particular bits (or if i happen to remember to do it) there's a broader range of outlets that i read pretty regularly.

i think i am more selective in what i focus on using on-line forms. maybe that's because i am basically cheap, so will read the whole of the paper when i have one physically, but will scan it for things that seem interesting online.

# What is your opinion of each (online and on paper)?

they're different media. they do different things. even in cases where the writing is the same, the perception and processing of what is written seems impacted by the medium. macluhan or some such.

# Do you see yourself changing your habits any time soon?

hard to say. i wouldn't have predicted my current habits a decade ago.


# How have your habits changed over time?

migrated online.
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Old 12-07-2009, 12:02 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Reading the news, in general, makes me feel like the world is collapsing. It is a commentary, a narrative, set to explain the events of the world that need no explanation, only reporting. I'm done with it.
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Old 12-07-2009, 01:51 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Reading the news, in general, makes me feel like the world is collapsing. It is a commentary, a narrative, set to explain the events of the world that need no explanation, only reporting. I'm done with it.
See, this is what happens when you focus on the big picture.

I'm in it for the details.
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Knowing that death is certain and that the time of death is uncertain, what's the most important thing?
—Bhikkhuni Pema Chödrön

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
—From "Burnt Norton," Four Quartets (1936), T. S. Eliot
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Old 12-07-2009, 02:12 PM   #19 (permalink)
 
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nice...an opportunity to paste a favorite quote.

proust on reading the newspaper:

Quote:
That abominable and sensual act called reading the newspaper, thanks to which all the misfortunes and cataclysms in the universe over the last twenty-four hours, the battles which cost the lives of fifty thousand men, the murders, the strikes, the bankruptcies, the fires, the poisonings, the suicides, the divorces, the cruel emotions of statesmen and actors, are transformed for us, who don’t even care, into a morning treat, blending in wonderfully, in a particularly exciting and tonic way, with the recommended ingestion of a few sips of cafe au lait.
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Old 12-07-2009, 02:21 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Flaubert:
  • What would I learn from those wonderful newspapers you so want me to take each morning, with my bread and butter and cup of coffee? Why should I care what they have to say? I have very little curiosity about the news, politics bores me to death, and the literary articles stink. To me it's all stupid-making and irritating...Yes, newspapers disgust me profoundly -- I mean the ephemeral, things of the moment, what is important today and won't be tomorrow.

Thoreau:
  • If words are invented to conceal thought, I think that newspapers are a great improvement on a bad invention.
  • To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea. Yet not a few are greedy after this gossip.
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Knowing that death is certain and that the time of death is uncertain, what's the most important thing?
—Bhikkhuni Pema Chödrön

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
—From "Burnt Norton," Four Quartets (1936), T. S. Eliot
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:34 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Good quotes. Amplified is TV news, especially local news shows and the jokes on networks claiming to be based around journalism.

I generally feel printed collections discuss too broad a scope to retain my interest, so the ease of skimming through headlines and summaries online is much more appealing. However, I'm strongly considering starting a print subscription. I just have to decide on a publication since some use better English, but use a motive that feels like entertainment. This may have been induced by Internet media, but it feels purposeless when sitting with a collection in your hands wanting a picture of recent happenings without the amplification of a hyperlink-based scope.

Are you doing a study on the Internet's affect on attention spans?
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:17 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I read 2 - 3 newspapers everyday. I love the immediacy of on-line news, and when I want to research a subject, it's definitely the net. But newspapers fill in things. They give me more details than the television (rarely watch news there except breaking stories) or the radio (why don't they have PVR's for radio... I hate catching a bit of something & not being able to rewind). They provide local news that's too hard to find on the net. Newspapers provide context that TV/radio never do.

And, they're portable. And flexible. I can read a newspaper in much more comfortable positions than I can read things on the net. Laptops are handy, but moving around with one is still a pain. Newspapers are so much more sturdy than a computer. Print media may be fading, but it will not disappear. It may become much more of a niche market, but that niche won't be small.
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Old 01-05-2010, 07:26 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I must say, though, that I'm more than just a little bit jealous of [fresnelly's] Globe. I subscribed to the Star because it's cheaper to begin with, plus they had a deal: 50% off for 6 months. (The Globe is about $0.50 more per week at regular prices.)

I do prefer the Globe. That's what I read in college. If money were no object, I'd have subscribed. But I find it is a bit out of reach at the moment. Maybe when I get my finances under better control, I'll swtich over. Maybe I'll do it when the 6-month deal runs out. Who knows? In the meantime, I'm just after the news in general...and in a newspaper format.
Screw it. I switched over already. I find the Star too lightweight for my liking. I need more substance. Plus I need a better business section, as it provides supporting materials for my securities course. The Globe isn't even that more expensive, making it a much better value if you consider what I want to get out of the paper. I miss reading it. Besides, now that I'm working from home I've just started saving a chunk of cash from not having to subscribe to the monthly public transit pass I've been paying for.
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Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
—From "Burnt Norton," Four Quartets (1936), T. S. Eliot
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Old 01-05-2010, 04:54 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I gave up reading newspapers in print and online about the same time I gave up on politics. Years ago.

For the news, I was tired of reading prolonged Margaret Atwoodian type fluff that went on for 8 paragraphs before getting to the point. It's like I just want to know about the bank robbery down the street, not a fucking treatment by a 25 year old English Lit grad yearning for a Pulitzer.

But mainly was the ed-ops that turned me off. If it were just someones opinion of the facts, I could take it or leave it. But when the daily rags have to make up shit to write about, I had enough.

There was one national paper I wrote to telling them of a string of ed-ops that began as fictitious subjective meandering, then turned into fact a couple of weeks later by another writer in the same paper. To their credit, on the last page of Section A, in one sentence, they mentioned their faux pas. Guess it was a slow news day in Jerusalem, so they didn't need to print all their news as well.

But the damage was done though wasn't it?

I got irritated also with people who read the bullshit subjective, sometimes made up, often quoted from an unnamed source ed-op nonsense, and repeated it verbatim,..with conviction, as if the absolute 100% truth,,...don't even try and say otherwise people. We all know folk like that

So I stopped reading.

Then there is politics. God help us if the masses ever learn what goes on behind closed doors. There would either will be 100% voter participation at every election or a national revolt.

Maybe it's a good thing newspapers do what they do. We can't afford elections every month or a national general strike in revolt
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Old 01-05-2010, 06:49 PM   #25 (permalink)
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This just in, "Newspapers work better than the internet for lighting the charcoal chimneys for your grill!"
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Old 01-05-2010, 08:13 PM   #26 (permalink)
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I get a free daily paper delivered to my door every morning. I read it on the bus as I commute to work. I read it mostly because it's there. I had commuting and not reading. If I didn't read the paper I would read a book (and sometimes do).

I make a point of reading the paper because it contains local news. I don't watch local news on TV and I don't listen to local radio so it's really my only source for local news content.

This paper also contains some international and regional news. I get to keep up on Malaysian and Thai politics.

Occasionally, I will pick up the weekend edition of the local broadsheet. I mostly read these for the lifestyle and entertainment sections. Context is good.

Otherwise, Google News is my main source for news these days.
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Old 01-05-2010, 08:40 PM   #27 (permalink)
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My mom works as a publisher for a daily distribution newspaper that has recently dropped down to 6 days a week, 100+ years I believe doing daily papers until this year. 80k population so not really that shocking i guess, but town has been growing and has supported the paper for so long.

Shocking for me, plus the really odd thing is that they dropped Monday's paper so if you died on the weekend, and get buried on Monday (common) nobody will know about it because no paper...
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