As I recount on the newly revived Morning Worship, I find myself once again saturated with the acid of acrimonious politics and it begins to change my own pH. The Morning Worship diary project is one of the remedies that has worked in the past. Another is to diminish my exposure to the overheated Television and the Internet blogs.
Then comes this great column on today’s truthdig by Bill Boyarsky. Communities Need Newspapers He writes about the value, indeed the necessity for newspapers to continue to have a major presence in the world of news media.
It strikes me today having just decided to actually pay for reliable online news and subscribe to the New York Times online version. Those who know me are aware of my impatience with having to pay for anything on the Internet, especially news. There has been a conversion. I observe the irrefutable evidence that it is time for the business of news collecting and reporting reclaim its position as a professional service.
Choices of content and reliability so essential for an informed public simply cannot be made without prejudice if the very existence of the publication is dependent on fulfilling the expectations of business and corporate advertisers. The once sacred wall between the corporate sponsors and positions as to content and opinion has been demolished in recent years.
Most people will continue to get most of their news from Television entertainment shows and the labyrinth of the Internet. Those who are serious consumers of news will I believe pay for serious news. But I believe the very existence of ethical national and global newspapers exercising high standards can have an effect on how other media and the public judge news. At the least there will be a remnant of reliability for the public to turn to when confused.
I am a great believer in small and mid-sized city newspapers because only they can be in tune with and present the regional culture but the turn taken by local TV and print news outlets some years ago to report only on local events was a terrible mistake because it has promoted the affliction of regional parochialism.
Focus on the regional may please local advertisers but it is a serious defect. There must be some way for small operations to free themselves from the tyranny of the politics of the advertisers. Perhaps organizing as non-profits would offer a solution. With some remarkable exceptions, the most reliable news during the Civil Rights thrust and the Viet Nam War came from free street corner papers. And before the “monetization” of the Internet, when news was presented at a cost to the pajamas clad midgnight provider it served as that corner freebie of the 60s and 70s.