Monday, January 12, 2009

Support Your Local Newspaper

I've been a newspaper reader since I was a kid. I've been lucky to live in a city with two local daily papers. I grew up in a liberal household and 'our' paper was always The Seattle Times. The other paper in town, which once was considered the conservative paper is The Seattle-Post Intellegencer.

This worked great for me when I was a young adult. The Times was the "afternoon" paper while the PI published in the morning. I would read the PI on the bus on my way to work in the morning and the Times would be waiting for me when I got home in the evening.

It was the best of both worlds. While I new each paper had it's political bent, I knew what it was and could base my opinions on the stories with that in mind. Strangely over the years the line between the two papers blurred. The Times became more conservative while the PI became more liberal. I don't know why this happened as the owners of the papers never changed. The times was started and is still owned by the Blethen family. Col. Alden Blethen bought The Times in 1896 and managed it to be a rival to the PI. It's still run by his heirs. The PI first published in 1863 as the Seattle Gazette is the oldest paper in town. It had a variety of owners in the past and was purchased by W.R. Hearst in 1921. It's been a Hearst paper ever since.

It may sound a bit much to read two daily papers but with those two paper available it was a great way to get a story from two differing perspectives. There was also a good percentage of stories that would be carried by one paper but not the other, for whatever reason.

For me, newspapers were where you went if you really wanted to understand a story. To get more then the details of what happened, but also the causes that might have made it happen. You could always get a more in depth story than what you saw in two minutes on the nightly TV news. Newspaper also once had a tradition of doing investigative journalism (remember that phrase?) where they would be the ones to break the story and bring it to the public.

Well, it seems that those day are almost gone. It started over a decade ago. At least that's when I started noticing it. The stories in the paper became more info-tainment. The same non-news stories as you saw on TV or heard on the radio. The people who decide what you hear on the TV news also became the same people who decided what you would read in the paper. Investigating reporting became a thing of the past. We gave them good cover for this lapse. The publishers could just point to their falling subscription numbers and tell us there wasn't enough money to keep all those reporters around. It's happened in our local paper all the way up to the Old Grey Lady herself, The New York Times. Hell, the Wall Street Journal is now owned by Rupert Murdoch. They slashed and burned their newsrooms and squawked the whole time about how they couldn't make money and compete with the web.

Well, I think they have it coming. The only way they could make themselves into something relevant was to give us something we couldn't get else where. The missed a big opportunity. They used to educate us, to make us think. They would lay out the facts and also give some background story and allow the reader to draw their own conclusions. What they print now is just the same nonsense as you can get from any other media outlet. How about a news story that tells us how the goverment came up with $700 billion for a banking bailout, but when we ask for education and health care there's just no money? That would be a story I would read.

The art of distraction. "Don't look over here at this dirty little war...which is sponsored by our parent company GE (for example) but look over here!!! Britney's a train wreck and Lohan's dating chicks!

Last week Hearst announced that the Seattle Post Intelligencer was being put up for sale. Putting it up for sale is almost a euphemism, really it's just a nice way to say: "We give up". If Hearst can't make money on it it's doubtful anyone else could.

The papers themselves keep getting smaller and smaller and thinner and thinner. My nightly Seattle Times is now down to three sections. The business section is now one page. The reporting in the 'A' section is all wire service. It takes me 10 minutes to read. Part of my daily ritual, reading the paper after work to unwind is going by the wayside.

I wish I were more eloquent. I wish I could say this better. But I think with out this type of reporting and coverage we as a nation just become a mass of blind sheep just accepting what drivel the 'powers that be' decide we can know. Most people don't have the time or resources to dig for the news. To do the research and look beyond what the main stream media bleets at us as news.

I love the newspaper. I like to be able to walk around with my newspaper. I want to be able to take it anywhere I go. Stuff it into my satchel for later or to show someone a story I read, take it to the bathroom with me, make a silly hat. I like the tactile feel of it. If the newspaper goes the way of white wall tires and transitor radios, what are you going to wash your windows with? What will you put on the kitchen table when the kids want to paint? What will you wrap your fish in! - I was a bit teed off when the local recycling pick-up company decided we could no longer toss our loose paper in a plastic bag to be picked up. I had to resort to buying paper leaf bags for our paper recycling. Ironic huh, buying paper to recycle paper? I'm going to be really pissed off if I have to start buying blank newsprint.

Holly Cats! Your still here? Well aren't you the brave little reader!

I did have one other thing. It's time to annouce the three lucky bloggers who were selected for my next part of the "Pay it Forward" game. Over the weekend I tried to get Bear to pick the lucky recipeints. Unfortnatly, unlike Real Live Lesbian's wonderful dog Trace seen HERE picking my name, amongst others, Bear just doesnt have that talent. I tried to take videos but all I got was his butt leaving the room. I ended up picking them myself. So, in the next few days I'm going to be putting together packages of things to brighten the day for:

Ace at Helpdesk Ace

Leann at From My World to Yours

And last but by no means least...

Tina at Big Cute Beach Girl

I'll need to get your snail mail addresses so I can send the packages. I'm going to have a blast deciding what to send you!

Carry on.


Kelly Jene said...

Newspapers... what a piece of history. It thrills me to see old newspapers from the early years, to see what they thought was important. Great post, Brad. Great idea on the Pay it forward thing too, how neat. Love you!

Golden To Silver Val said...

I think you should contact your local paper and submit articles such as this post...maybe once a week. You never know where this could take you! I hear opportunity knocking on your door? Love and hugs. xxoo

Kathy said...

There is a periodical called THE WEEK which features news stories from our country's and international newspapers. Several 'slants' are given for each story. I enjoy this news magazine very much and think you might, too.

Boxer said...

Seattle just isn't big enough for two newspapers anymore - the Internet killed it. I was sad when I read the news about the P.I. I love reading too, but I have to admit that I stopped taking the weekly paper a few years ago because most of it was ending up in my recycle bin. I would read most of the current news online.

Still.... it's weird to think there might be a time when people don't have them at all.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brad,
I must say I love reading your blog, I wished you a Happy New Year on being Mr. Bubbles, that is prolly the first time I read you blog, but I must say I do enjoy yours the most, if anything I hoped to learn the most in life was finishing school and learning Volcabulary,reading your blog I am reacing for my dictionary all the time too learn New things and I Sincerly thank you, and I love the sound and even the meaning of Eloquence, You are ELOQUENCED TO ME. Thank You, a Friend.

Jay said...

When I was growing up we had two major dailies here. The Arkansas Gazette was the "liberal" paper and the Arkansas Democrat was, oddly enough, the "conservative" paper.

When I was in college the Democrat bought out the Gazette and took it's name and became the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Or as many of affectionately refer to it, The Dog.

The Democrat was and is a shitty paper. The Gazette was the oldest paper west of the Mississippi and had a HUGE trophy case in their main lobby showcasing all the awards that had been bestowed upon the paper and it's writers. Including a couple of Pulitzers. The Democrat now claims to have been awarded those. It pisses many of us off.

Whenever I go anywhere, the first thing I do is buy the local paper. And all the free weeklies and "underground" papers too. Always lots of fun to read through them.

meno said...

I feel the samw way you do about newspapers, and have been a subscriber to the Times for....let's see.....30 years. (OMG!)

But you are right, it takes me about 20 minutes to read the whole thing. Most of the stories i've heard on the radio already. If it wasn't for the comics and Dear Ann (or whomever) i don't know as i'd read it at all.

tt said...

We used to have 2 daily papers here in Tulsa. One morning and one evening. I vividly remember watching my dad at the brakfast tble reading the Tulsa Tribune. It was a bit on the conservative side. In the evening, as I was running outside to greet and hug him he would be reaching down to pick up the Tulsa World. Now a days, since we only have takes him all day to get through it...but he does. The smell of newspaper reminds me of him. We've had a subscription to the World ever since we moved back here...and I love it when I find an article that I haven't already heard about on TV.
Good for you on the Pay it Forward. It's a beautiful thing to do.
Hugs my friend :)

Dear Liza said...

Great post, Brad. You are so right...the newspaper brings back great memories for me, too. The funny part is, at least here, when the newspaper began laying off staff (and I assume) eventually going out of business altogether, the reason cited is "people getting their news on the internet". I am sure some of that goes on, but like you - I can't help but wonder, if they would stick to the way the NEWSpaper has always written NEWS stories, then how could we get that anywhere else? Now, it's just the same news, on tv, the radio, in the paper, on the internet...all the same.

Hugs friend. :)

Real Live Lesbian said...

Great post! And congrats to the winners!

Ace C said...

Newspapers...who knew?

Ace C said...

Lol. I won something. Who's the boss? Me!

mama llama said...

You make very good points about the demise of the newspaper business. One other gripe...from a soy-allergic that the news is now all printed with--yes, SOY-based inks.

Go figure.

Wish you could be here for the fun next week. Lots of celebrating going down in NoVA, the Liberal Stronghold of this state. Should be very, very interesting. They're even talking of no bread, milk and TP in the stores. Suppose I had better stock up early...

:) Be well, Brad.

zirelda said...

The day of the paper...

I quit taking the paper at least 15 years ago. I really didn't want to know what was going on.

The paper in our town isn't worth much anyway. You get more news around here via word of mouth. I mean, we had a bank robbery a month ago and they never printed any of that.

I get my news from websites if I want it. Other than that, I don't want to know.

I know, it's bad but hey.

Leann said...

Brad...I loved that post!! I find that if I purchase the local paper I've already read the stories online and there are few local stories to keep up with. I try to read different arenas so I get a broader bent on things. I know my daughter has a few that she forwards to me also from those not so popular outlets. I don't purchase the paper or pick one up simply because of the recycling issue. Why should I pay good money for paper and then have to recycle it, being a part of the world's problem, when I can get it online.

Thanks SO much for paying it forward to ME. I will be sending you my address by e-mail, so look for it. :-)

Have a blessed day my friend.