Wednesday, May 01, 2013

1168 The Paper Boys


1168 The Paper Boys

There was no golden age of reporting, only sporadic bursts of random greatness.

Here’s a quote from Mark Twain: “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed.  If you read the newspaper you’re mis-informed.”  (Source lost)

You could add “If you are the newspaper (or radio station or television channel or network) you’re screwed.

Since Twain died around this time of year in 1910, we’ve had 103 years to consider what he had to say and act on it.  And every once in awhile, we do.  But only every once in awhile.

The Great Depression, World War II, JFK, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, 9/11 all landmarks -- or they should be -- to all of us.

The rest of the time... well, it’s the sex lives of politicians and their ineptitude, scandalous trials after scandalous crimes, movie stars, their larger than life lives and larger than death deaths.

So what do you care that the Koch Brothers want to buy the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Hartford Courant and the Baltimore Sun?

They are important papers, all -- at least in the context and small world in which a news outlet can be important.  And if this sale happens, the inmates who run those asylums will gradually be replaced by inmates more suitable to the views of their mega-bucks keepers.

News outlets have generally failed in informing the public, thus putting walls in its ability to make rational decisions. They have become mouthpieces for politicians and corporations and lobbyists, sometimes unwittingly, but mouthpieces nevertheless.

The business of printing or otherwise reporting the news, always a mine field, has become a minefield in a slum.  The only way you can figure out what’s said is by reading between the lines.  And most of us aren’t sure that we’re reading correctly.

Of the papers the Kochs are thinking about taking in, the only really important one is the LA Times.  And it has been rolling steadily downhill for a long time.  What started as a right wing rag became a great paper and is set to return to its roots, right-wing raggedness.  The difference now is that the readership generally won’t stand for it.

Let the News Brothers take their losses.  They can afford it.



Shrapnel:

--Buyouts and downsizing are all the rage in newsland these days.  Wessays upper management is considering following suit.  But they haven’t yet figured out how to offer a buyout to their only employee and still have a blog.

--The Dutch get it when it comes to monarchies.  When Queen Beatrix abdicated this week and handed the crown to her son, people cheered because they love her and like him.  The royal family has no real function in the Netherlands, but it’s one of the ties that bind -- as it should be.
--In this country, we no longer seem to have ties.  Maybe we need a monarchy.  Any nominations?


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2013

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