a local blogger
and the editor of the local newspaper
have ensured my merry christmas, and i have no reason not to expect a happy new year. the two have been sniping back and forth for what seems like forever over the ones inability to stomach the others politics, and the others insistence, like kids on a playground, to retort with reasoned arguments like "i know you are, but what am i?" now, if i could only remember which was which...
actually, i've had the opportunity to listen to and respect the former, and, to me, (in most cases), he's been thoughtful, respectful of history, and respectful of other men's opinions. why he can't help himself from responding to gutter-journalistic back-biting (to wit: something about "bitter local bloggers, including an elected official whose family lives at the public trough")
is beyond me. i think someone wise once advised against such with the admonition to "never get into an argument with an idiot lest someone unfamiliar be unable to tell the difference". (something i think more folks should try to remember).
mind you, i haven't met nor heard the latter in any public discourse other than his (strange) opinions on the op-ed page, and i use the word strange since his recent column linked above cited cheerfully a statistic that most reasonable people would find alarming: one sixth (less than 17%) of us read newspapers, while the newspaper association of america's own stats
document readerships of over 75% of the adult population as recently as 1970, and, yeah, that's apples and oranges cuz mr. editor's figure was (i think/hope) for total population, but i think you can do some reasonable math and conclude that a lot of folks don't prefer to support their local editors, nor their associated papers, like they used to...
to digress a bit, my work takes me, among other placess, intimately close to the inner workings of major financial institutions, and the stats outlining the decline of the banking industry are similarly eye-popping. the percentage of wealth once kept in traditional banks was historically staggering, and impossible to reconcile with the shrinking numbers now found in the industry. (since '70 i'm going to guess it's gone from a newspaper-similar three quarters down to something south of one quarter, just like the papers).
what this all tells to me, other than a lot of bankers and newspaper editors needing to take a certain amount of personal responsibility for the precipitous declines in their businesses, and their remarkable dinasaur-like inability to stay ahead of changes in demographics and related buying habits, is that the world is changing. it doesn't tell me i have to develop personal vendettas against people who are just telling me the truth.
i subscribe to my local paper (as those who follow my ramblings here might recall) and i have very specific reasons for doing so, which i'll get into in a bit. i get my international news from places like the bbc online
and the economist
, and much if not most of my national news from there as well. i follow a couple of web aggregations of newspaper content (one of my favorites is the newseum collection of 545 newspaper front pages from 58 countries all in one place
) and i indulge my crush on liz brunner and heather unruh with a bit of newscenter five
from time to time, too. (ok, it's actually mostly a crush on harvey leonard for the best weather report in town, but, shhh, don't tell anyone).
90% of the aforementioned, as you might guess, is online, simply because i can't afford to buy (and waste) the amount of paper that would be required to consume it any other way. ironically, the only piece of journalism that i buy every day, and happily read from a tangible paper source, is the highly comical and often editorially ludicrous lowell sun
. i don't read it for the international news, and i don't read it for the national news, and i certainly don't read it hoping to find much in terms of sensible editorial content. (cal thomas reminds me of nothing so much as something that should be off the funny pages, except that he's rarely funny and almost never accompanied by cartoon drawings, which is too bad, because i think they might improve his readability). and, yeah, that's gutter-journalistic backbiting, alright, and, yeah, i'm guilty...
so do you think that cal thomas should write a screed back at me? or are we all clear on the concept that it would only boost my readership and web-cred, (whatever that is), while at the same time relegating him to even fewer local rags who might be strange enough to prioritize his often-inane ramblings?
oh well, the good news is that neither dick nor jim seem to be interested in using their better judgment, so we're all most likely to be able to enjoy the little jr high parking lot soap opera throughout the course of the coming year, and that's great as far as i'm concerned. the world needs a little more levity these days.
oh, and i almost forgot...
why am i one of the elite (one out of six sounds elitish, doesn't it?) who subscribes to and reads the lowell sun each and every day?
because it contains information that is important to me, and which i cannot get from almost any other source, and certainly not aggregated together in one place. oh, it has its shortcomings, believe you me, and every penny they spend wasting column inches on jim c or cal t makes my eyeballs hurt in ways i cannot even begin to describe. but they sponsor blogs like audio floss
and gourmet gal
, and get all the local sports scores, (where else would i have learned last year that i could just walk down to the tsongas and get to see a state regional basketball final between my local high school's heros and central catholic of lawrence's that would be one of the best basketball games me and my kids have ever seen?), and cover galleries and concert venues and restaurants and everything else that makes lowell the single greatest small city in all the world, all for pennies a day, and all just for me. i get to cheer on my local constabulary, which is one of the finest in the world, (and the commissionerships in boston and new york are just two testimonials for that), and learn about everything they're doing to keep our streets safe and well-ordered. i get to find out all the things i've yet to discover, as in, how just yesterday i clipped a piece describing the availability of new york's metropolitan opera over at the showcase cinema, which is going to give me opportunity, for just a few bucks, to take my mother to see something that, prior to this would have cost thousands once you add up the travel, lodging and tickets to the met in person, for just $22 apiece.
i think what dick and jim are arguing about is so much of a red herring you do just need to laugh. jim's business acumen is, indeed, well-described by the continuing implosion of his readership, and taking that personally just shows him to be that much more of a horse's you-know-what. and dick, by entering into a disagreement with such, has merely plugged himself firmly into that level, too. i don't know what that makes me, by taking the even lower road of poking anonymous fun, but i guess we can all agree that it's what we've chosen to write about, so there you have it.
enjoy your local paper, and do, please, seek other sources too, cuz they really don't pay these people enough to always be accurate, fair or even reasonable. the math is almost always wrong these days, (and please lets all not get started on the globe, times, post or other outfits with budgets that ought to give them the ability to do better), and we always should be getting out our calculators and our reasonable intellects and challenging each and every thing we read. but when it comes time to read about the things *I* care about, i'll always need a local paper, and though i'm sincerely hoping a better one comes along, i'm ok if one doesn't and i have to keep doing it the way i'm doing it now.