The incredible shrinking newspaper

It’s been over 9 months since I closed my weekly newspaper and people sometimes ask me if I miss it. No way! The economics of a small-town newspaper were bad enough, but I firmly believe that the newspaper era (and for that matter the print era in general) is rapidly coming to an end.

For many years now I, like many, have been using the Internet as my main source of news and general information. I read the NY Times and the Real Clear Politics web sites and a number of blogs on a daily basis. (OK, I’m a news junkie!) Recently, however, I was stranded for an afternoon without my computer on a holiday visit and I picked up a copy of the Sunday (Gannett) Rochester Democrat & Chronicle to pass the time.

Since I had not done that in quite a while, I was amazed at how stale the news was. I was already familiar with almost every story from my web browsing, and in fact I knew that a lot of them were inaccurate. Like most print publications these days, the most interesting content was reports about things happening online.

Although I was raised on newspapers, the overall experience of reading a newspaper nowadays seems incredibly dull compared to the excitement of surfing the net at the speed of light. I got the feeling from reading the D & C that it is a business that knows its time has passed and is just going through the motions for the sake of the few shekels that can be gleaned before the rest of their readers either die off or move to the net.

My latest obsession has been the fast-breaking rumors and stories about Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. As a card-carrying conspiracy theorist, who believes that the killing of JFK was an inside job (see my recent column), I found the parallels to that case fascinating. Given the sloppiness of the investigation so far, I expect it to be proven any day now that there was a second shooter located on the Grassy Knoll in Rawalpindi.

Whether you believe that or not, it is simply impossible to follow such a story in a daily newspaper, or any mainstream media (what we wingnuts call the MSM). The lag between the breaking story and when the MSM finally gets around to reporting it is just too agonizingly slow, compared to hitting the Google news search button.

Of course, getting your news raw and unfiltered does take you down a few rabbit holes. In my recent ramblings I have pursued collateral theories that Osama Bin Laden has been dead for at least 5 years, that former CIA Chief William Colby was murdered, and that Bhutto was removed from office in her former stint as Prime Minister because she didn’t back an American oil company’s plan to run a pipeline to Turkmenistan.

I don’t know if any of that is true, but these are not the type of stories that even get addressed in the conventional media, and that makes for a much less interesting reading experience. Of course you can’t believe everything you read in the newspaper, or online, but I would prefer to be the one deciding what to believe.

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3 responses to “The incredible shrinking newspaper

  1. Russell Laidlaw

    I am in total agreement with what you have to say in the “Incredible Shrinking Newspaper” (except the part about JFK’s assassination). I look at the two foot stack of D & Cs on my monthly trip to the recycling center and say to myself “what an incredible waste of natural resources”. I keep my subscription primarily as a favor to my neighbor who is the carrier.

  2. With the ever increasing political takeover of newspapers across America, there is no wonder about thy’ve fallen to the more viable internet. The only problem I have seen is there are more ideas being brought to light and not enough time to enjoy them. Some have said the Internet has split our nation but it does put individuality and ones ideas out there for discussion. This too does not include the fact that we are working in real time and not “old” news. Blogs will also thrive if fairness is used and both sides of the arguments are presented. That is what newspapers never did provide on a fair basis. As in my case, political censures will become obsolete in the virtual world.

  3. There may be more freedom of the “press” on the internet but there is less individual freedom. Because of current Federal law that allows governmental agencies to gather information about the internet activities of individuals and because search engines retain search information for a minimum of 2 years, what we read on the Internet is tracked.

    You may remember that in the libraries of old (and I was a librarian) the ethic was to not divulge information about what a patron read and/or what books they checked out to read elsewhere. I agree that with corporate media giants controlling the print world, news is both skewed and filtered at times. However, “reliable sources” is still the order of the day.

    This period of transition from print to the electronic medium will be a rough ride. People who cannot afford the high tech gizmos that allow them to read the “paper” on the internet while commuting or on the beach will be unable to fully share in the electronic information revolution.

    The democratization of information with the means of access and the freedom to read materials of your choice without being tracked are issues that remain to be confronted. The transition to electronic distribution of information will be a rough ride into unknown territory – as was the invention of movable type.

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