Books, in tactile form, are still quite abundant. Both fiction and nonfiction titles sell in the traditional paper-bound format, though admittedly not as much as they used to. These days the internet and e-readers represent the majority of what we read, BUT the content is never diminished just because of where and how we view it. Not only that, books have staying power. They get resold, placed on shelves for later reference and entertainment, and they have long and loving tradition of being loaned out through the world’s library systems.
Not so with newspapers.
Newspapers, unlike books, have always existed as a temporary and (mostly) daily reflection of our rapidly changing world. They were never meant to be hoarded nor readily referenced. Perhaps not always truthful or objective, they are, however, capable and experienced at informing us in ways no other media can. Local stories that would have possibly gone unnoticed have often changed things in a big way; at the very least in the lives of individuals, I know they have for me.
I once read that the average New York Times paper (from the eighties) would take over a week of solid twenty-four an hour a day broadcasting if it were presented on television in the way the nightly news was. This would mean whatever would have been chosen to be televised, no matter what its intent might have been, the content would’ve come across as shallow at best. My memory might be off here, but I do recall this as being accurate. If it is, wow. Granted, a good portion of the programming would be fluff and advertising, but it’s still undeniable evidence of what we are missing out on for the average news story. Deeper facts and viewpoints are taking a back seat these days for more superficial, less exact, (and more quickly judged) stories.
I do not believe we have outgrown the desire for viewing and appreciating the full picture. What we’ve collectively done is become the drones of the corporate world. Shorter and faster information equals quicker decisions, quicker reactions, and more spending. There is a logic to this, but only from the perspective of those who have the power to begin with.
There’s a way to turn things around, but it must be done quickly or the time of action will pass us by. I say if we want better news AND we want to save our newspapers then they have to stop selling them.
MAKE ALL NEWSPAPERS FREE, JUST GIVE THEM AWAY!
You feel this sounds like a suicidal move? I think not, and here’s why.
Sunday has always sold the most newspapers. Why? It’s been the same reason for decades; advertising. People don’t hate advertising as long as they can do it at a leisurely pace. Television, however, forces ads upon us. We either have to mute the sound, change the channel, or patiently sit through them until our program resumes, not so with newspapers. If we want to look, we do, if not, we don’t. We’re always looking for a good deal and let’s face it, browsing the latest online ad from our favorite store kinda sucks. Ads in papers do not interfere with story content. Newspapers do NOT make most of their money through subscriptions, they make most of their money from selling advertising space, or at least they used to. If they want to raise the rates of ads and attract higher profits, then all they have to do is prove an increase of readership to justify raising the cost. If newspapers were free, people would pick them up with their morning coffee. Everyone loves to read, just because it’s on the net doesn’t mean otherwise.
The other, and far more valuable asset fading away with the paper is the investigative reporter. While they do indeed still exist, it’s obvious their assets, presence, and power have been diminished simply because those who used to foot the payroll of these “news” detectives simply don’t exist anymore. All of us want to know the truth of a story and the longer, more researched, and referenced it is, the more credibility and power it can wield. I think all of us hunger for a more mentally nutritional source of information in this world of increasing fake information, sensational headlines, and thinly masked paid articles from those with interests that are strictly for profit. All of us, I assume, have at one point clicked on a story only to find out it’s sponsored by those who stand to benefit from our reaction to their agendas. Our corporate world realized a long time ago that fear sells, and if they can frighten us, we will throw our money at false solutions to made up problems.
Time to take a stand.
Truth should always be free, because in the end falsehoods will cost us our souls.
Who knows if my plea will be heard? Share this if you like, I certainly have no agenda for profit here.
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With Love and compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood