Friday, July 06, 2007

Why Are You Reading This

#264 Why Are You Reading This?

C’mon. No one reads anymore. You’re a throwback to a bygone era.

Newspapers are dead. The internet rules, but you don’t READ that, you scan it.

CNN has found a way to make its website even more user friendly than the others. It puts bullet points, story highlights atop its stories. You don’t even have to read the lead paragraph to grasp what’s going on.

The Huffington Post has “quick read” links to all its articles. You never even have to leave the home page to get a one paragraph version of the story.

USA Today pioneered the use of charts and graphs to tell you the story, true to its mission, producing a TV show in which you can wrap fish, as Fred Friendly would say.

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Forward have all shrunk their previously full size pages to something less than a “broadsheet,” but more than a tabloid.

Magazines are mostly pictures and captions these days. Also, bullet points, graphs and charts – the USA Today of slick paper.

Books? They seem to proliferate by the zillion. And sometimes, people even buy them. But how many of them are actually read – let alone referred to or read more than once.

It’s OK to see “Casablanca” 50 times. But read a book twice? You must be nuts.

Unless it’s Harry Potter. Or it’s an Oprah recommendation.

Do you get those pathetic appeals from Book of the Month Club, Mystery Book Club, Science Book Club, Nature Lovers’ Book Club, Auto Repair Book Club, Readers’ Digest Condensed Books?

Buy one, get 17 free. No further obligation. Free shipping if you order before midnight.

Do you even KNOW whether you get those pitches?

Between MTV and Madison Avenue, we’ve been conditioned to want everything summarized in ten words or less.

Notice, even the “Hooked on Phonics” and “Photoreading” courses have stopped advertising?

The most reading we do these days is the instruction manual for the iPhone or the iPod. And maybe not even that. (It’s kind of un-macho to read instructions, at least anywhere you can be seen reading them.)

Not to worry. You’re not missing anything. Most of what’s available to read ain’t worth the effort. The Times’ writing is so twisted it’s tough to make head or tale out of anything they print.

The novels are filled with unbelievable characters, ridiculous plots and no themes.

“Self help” books generally have no usable information beyond the titles, and sometimes even that makes no sense.

Newsweek, Time and US News & World Report are a week behind what you’ve viewed on MSNBC.

Does anyone really READ the New Yorker? “The Nation?” “The National Review?” Not if they can get the same stuff from “All Things Considered,” Air America Radio or Rush Limbaugh.

The opening question today “why are you reading this?” can be answered only by “I’m an old-fashioned boy/girl,” or “I keep the paper under the cover and read it by flashlight because I don’t want to be thought of as subversive.”

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

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