Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Thursday, May 10, 2007

News from the Newspaper

It frightens me to read that newspapers are losing circulation. Fewer people read the papers than in the past. Many people get their news from the TV and now the Internet. I still prefer the newspaper to these newer media as a source of the news.

The first reason has to do with freedom. I am free to read what I want to read. I skip over items and articles that do not interest me. I’ll admit to glancing at lots of headlines which give me hints of what is going on that have little interest to me. I personally choose not to read about celebrities, murder trials, sports, detailed reports of worldwide problems and classifieds.

I can skip through page after page of paid advertising. I could not pass a quiz on what advertisements were in the pages of the paper, which I had just read. Of course, some catch my eye and perhaps have a sub liminal affect on me. Maybe the cleverness of the advertisement moguls get me to buy stuff by their subtle or even full page blatant messages. But I have the freedom of choice as to whether I read them or not.

I glance at opinion pieces and the editorial page. I read them if I am interested in the topic. I do not read them regularly as I feel their opinion is as good as mine and I generally prefer mine. That is not to say that I do not learn things from time to time from the opinion pages. I do. But on the whole they tend to hold to a party line that I can smell from either seeing their name or a sentence or two into the column. I have freedom.

The few times that I watch the news on TV, I am a slave, a victim to whatever the newscasters throw at me. I cannot pick and choose. That includes the never-ending ads, which are hurled at me with sights and sounds and jabbering idiotic conversations about a product like interest rates at a bank or deodorant. Who in the world cares? I have to endure such idiocy until the next news item comes along which in most cases I have no interest in. But since I am in front of the tube I must hear and see it no mater what. The coverage of mayhem saddens me but I have to watch the latest report of a killing in counties several miles from my home whether I want to or not. In the newspaper I can skip what I do not choose to read.

Freedom of choice is stealthily taken away from TV viewers by seductively promising something else better, more shocking and horrifying than the last item. We are seduced by our own curiosity.

Having a curious mind is a value, almost an idol in our culture. Smart people are supposed to be curious about everything and anything. I am not very smart as I am more and more interested in less and less. Sex, religion, food, relationships, exercise, art and music are about it. That omits math, science, celebrities, sports, politics, education and most of the mass media.

My darling wife admits to being addicted to the newspapers. She will read every word of every article. It takes her a very long time; so long that sometimes she asks me to hide the paper from her.

Having extolled newspaper reading over the TV, I must admit that my 82 year old friend can’t read the papers comfortably any more. His eyes are giving out and there is little hope of improvement. So he is stuck with the TV for which he is grateful. So as our population ages we will probably watch more TV. Or perhaps the newspapers can use larger type. Newspapers on line can probably do that.

Yes, I know, advertising is what pays for the newspapers and TV. Certainly the subscription and newsstand prices could not pay for what we get. My view is that the papers are too much controlled by advertising.
Companies can pull the ads if they disagree with the editorials. The same can happen on TV. In the Imus case, we saw justice done by advertisers saying, “enough.” But usually we see advertisers’ threats emerging on issues of sexuality, challenges to traditional family values or criticizing the military.

Freedom and freedom of choice makes me choose the print media as the best source of news. I can choose what information I want and not have it thrust on me. Besides, I love having my first cup of coffee, sitting in my easy chair and leafing through the morning paper.

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