Want to do something about the troubling decline of the daily newspaper? For a start, buy a subscription, and read it through every day. We get two in our house, and not just for the crossword puzzles, and certainly not for the comics (except Zits.). If you’re in any kind of business, advertise in it. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than TV or the so-called social media, and folks can take their own good time reading it.
Looking through a newspaper today, you get a sense of unreality at the lack of local ads that used to meet everyday information needs. Don’t you get fed up always having to resort to google, a process that increasingly boggles the mind because of its innumerable entries saying much the same thing, but so often irrelevant to your particular need? Google and boggle do seem to go together, don’t they?
We have only ourselves to blame, of course, for allowing technology changes to sweep away all the comforts of what used to be everyday living. Look at what digital deering-do has done to the music scene – turfing out CDs and DVDs which were great, and cheap, for music buying and selling and playing. Now singers and musicians are struggling to survive, yet everyone steals their work on line all the time.
Same goes for professional photographers who have a hard time making a living in an age overladen with selfie-worshiping amateurs snapping admittedly sharp photos on their tiny ultra-modern cell phone devices.
News reporting suffers immensely today from the incursions of digital’s hand maidens like Facebook and Twitter, the great pretenders of the mass communications universe. Colour me hopelessly reactionary but, while sharing the neighbourly gossiping merits of Facebook tune-ins, I shudder at the torrents of purportedly knowledgeable outpourings on affairs of the day by persons of unknown and often highly suspect credentials. Not to mention the even mightier torrents of odious pop-up and timeline-packing ads you have to wade through in pursuing whatever interests you.
What people seem to forget when browsing through social media is that everything they see is – just like this blog – strictly someone’s opinion. In news media, factual information is in the forefront while opinion pieces are strictly confined to by-lined columns or editorials. The news is telling about what happens, and not what someone thinks about the whys and the wherefores. If legitimate news reporting disappears, we’re in deep trouble.
Certainly my most unfavourite knowledge source so ubiquitously featured on the google-dominated internet is that ghastly phenomenon known as Wikipedia. As candidly expressed to me the first time I heard of it, dealing quite erroneously with a subject I did know about, it embodies whatever information anyone in the world fancies contributing on a subject, and leaves it for others out there to embellish or revise it with their own take on the subject. A kind of Dummies Dictionary relying in smugly democratic confidence on other dummies to get it straight. Now why didn’t Encyclopedia Britannica think of that?
In short, can’t we draw back just a little from our headlong plunge into technology’s maelstrom and hold fast to the time-honoured bastions of the free press. Journalism is a professional calling and only responsible seekers of the truth in public affairs can be trusted to communicate factual information to the public at large. OK, I’m a tad biased, my son works for the National Post, but with my own modest background in journalism, I am a firm believer in the integrity of the legitimate news media.
Just as the daily newspaper managed to survive the advent of radio and television news, so too it can and should surmount the challenges of today’s on-line communications environment. So let’s give it room to breathe.