March 13, 2007

Read All About It

If you're one of the people who complain about the quality of your newspaper over the past few years, you're hardly alone. Newsrooms everywhere have been struggling with how to deal with the Internet - whether to ignore it, fear it or embrace it. Some tried one thing, then the other, only to finally realize they had best make peace. Somehow.

The problem of course is money. How do you get readers to pay for something they increasingly have come to believe should be free? There are so many sites that poach information from legitimate sources, that those legitimate sources are going out of business. So guess what happens when those original sources start losing money? They stop doing such a good job. And that's where you, the reader, should be concerned.

This piece in the Guardian sums up the problem nicely. It's pretty short, and tells you everything you should know. The less places you have to get your information from, the less you can trust what you read.

Newsgathering is not all that glamorous; it's like the street level cop. The fancy guys up in forensics would have nothing to work with if the street guys didn't do their job. Papers would have nothing to publish if they didn't have eyes and ears all over the place getting the story first hand.

But if you consistently demand the results for free, the whole thing caves in on itself. Someone has to pay the writers. Please, really, lots of us don't even have salaries or dental plans.

I subscribe to two papers I get at the house; two others I pay for on-line subscriptions. Newspapers are still pretty cheap, and I can't imagine my day without them. I love being able to read stuff from all over the world, but I also know you get what you pay for. If everyone relies exclusively on someone else's interpretations, we could end up with, I don't know, an illegal war in Iraq or something...

Believe it or not, you can't understand this world by absorbing ten second news-bites or a headline here or there. At a time when we need to get at the truth more than ever, we're in jeopardy of losing it in a society that is more likely to buy a magazine to see what Lindsay Lohan is wearing, than pay the same amount to subscribe to a decent paper for a week. Are we really even having this conversation? Teach your kids about the things that matter. Keep a paper going in your house.

Thank you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Lorraine
Totally with you on this. I am not impressed with my newspaper carrier though, a true dolt who enjoys forgetting to give me mine or flinging it into snowbanks on icy days, but I digress. I can't live without my daily fix, to go along with my cuppa java keeps this mommy-brain alive and provokes my inner self in places I wouldn't be able to if not for its' presence.
As for online reads...well...granted I have your site/blog and CHML in mt faves for debates and interest reads...but alas, I am one for the in-your-hand news. Easily washed down with said java.
Keep up the great words!

March 14, 2007 3:01 PM  

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