Monday, August 4, 2008

Any News?


My brother and I raced home from elementary school to claim the comics section first. A bowl of potato chips, a coke, and the newspaper spread out on the kitchen table was my favorite after-school treat. I read Ann Landers, Peanuts and my horoscope, and then moved on to the TV listings and the movie guide. When Tom headed downstairs to catch Superman at 3:00, I'd read the middle stories.

I'd already seen the headlines at breakfast. Dad always read excerpts from the sports section out loud as we ate our pancakes, and mom chuckled as he quoted Dan Valentine's daily column. Grama B. loved to have me tell her what I'd read in the newspaper during the week, and I was ready for her quizzes by Sunday when we visited. I was a well-informed 8-year-old.

As newlyweds living in an 8-foot wide trailer, one car, no TV or washing machine, we were still subscribed to three local newspapers. They were a priority. For years, as a bonus, we took the Sunday New York Times, as well. Today, like every Sunday of our lives, we came home from church and each grabbed a newspaper to scatter across the table while we companionably ate our lunch. But the news is going down hill.

I'm not talking about earthquakes and murders filling up the columns. I'm referring to the way newspapers are being written. The headlines rarely lead to real news nowadays. Our two local newspapers are in constant competition to annoy each other's readers with sarcastic articles and jibes against different religious and political groups. Hardly ever are there meaty stories that inform without bias. The advertisements take up full pages with just one or two articles spread over the surrounding columns, difficult to follow, and disappointing in content anyway.

Even the comics aren't worthy of a glance. The arts sections borrow articles from the New York Times, which are better read in the context of that newspaper. Today our travel section highlighted Wendover! Come on! With all the interesting places in the world, they suggest I get on a Grayhound, cross the desert, and hide inside a casino?

If it wasn't such a pleasurable part of my routine, I'd drop the newspapers into the recycling bin along with the even heavier stack of advertising sections that are jammed between the pages. (Why isn't the green movement targeting ads?) There's a concern that newspapers are losing their readers. If so, it's because they've lost their writers.

My question to you is: "Where do you find unbiased, objective news? I'm especially interested in following the presidential candidates, and unraveling their views. So much of what I read is about the strategy of a campaign: how to woo the younger voters, or what will work to get women voters. I'm tired of having the big news be how the campaigns are quoting the other candidate out of context. I'd love to find a columnist I could trust to give me the story the way it happened. I don't mind a little bias, but report it semi-honestly, please. Two or three journalists from different papers would balance the coverage I'm dying to receive.

Please leave some suggestions of newspapers and columnists you think would re-enthuse my newspaper ritual. I want to be fortified with more than potato chips, cokes and Charlie Brown. I'd love to find a factual list of each candidates opinions and statements of the day, represented to inform me. Is there such a thing?

I'm hoping for tips from you guys, my experts on everything!

10 comments:

kenju said...

I shouldn't admit it, but I have quit watching and reading the news, mostly. It is all too depressing. I figure if I am supposed to know something, it will find me.

Nowadays, I read blogs and books and a few magazines (Smithsonian and Newsweek, mostly)

Bev said...

my husband reads the Denver paper (the Post), the USA Today and a "give away" (The Independent) from our area. His complaint is that have the news is no longer printed, they just say "read more on our website" which he can't do (reading on a computer screen has always bothered him, so he just doesn't do it)

When I read the paper I am constantly finding words that are spelled wrong or used incorrectly (its not "ON accident!") geesh, didn't anyone go to grammer school?

I read articles on the web and listen to MSNBC (especially Keith Olbermann) but I don't think any news is unbiased nowdays

such is the sad condition of the Fourth Estate

Christie said...

There isn't such a thing as unbiased news, sadly. Anywhere.

Nancy said...

Marty,

As much as I disagree with Matt Drudge on almost everything political, I think he has the best website on the net for political news.

Go to www.drudgereport.com
and you will find a list of columnists of every political persuasion.As you can read their columns you will find opinions of every kind and, by having your choice of so many writers,it's as if you subscribed to every one of their newspapers or magazines.

It's my favorite site for news and opinion..

If you haven't tried the site, please do and decide whether or not you are satisfied with the content....

Keri(th) said...

I agree that both local Television and Newspapers have certainly left something to be desired in recent years. I try not to indulge in the local news-flashes when I can help it.

My picks would be:

Wall Street Journal
Financial Times (They have 500 writers from 50 different countries.)
USA Today (depending on the day)

And if you happen to take your news via radio, there are some fabulous stations out there as well. I love NPR and BBC news. The Brits are very interested in US politics, and often report more the facts with more accuracy and less drama.

Heed said...

I like the Drudge Report, too.

raehan said...

Ummm....let's see. Don't have any columnists for you, but I've come too really enjoy reading the USA today. It's a good mix of real news and fun stuff. Sounds just like the kind of fun you want to have with a paper.

MissKris said...

I was going to write my opinion on this but Kenju beat me to it, ha! I have a long-standing internet friend from Perth, Western Australia, who hasn't watched or read the news in years. Her sentiments rubbed off on me, especially after the Bush/Kerry election year. It seems like the media has been covering this upcoming election for the past two years and I am sick unto death with it all. Same old, same old especially on CNN, MSNBC, FOX...blah, blah, blah. I do vote but it seems likr my ballot gets emptier and emptier as time goes on. Especially with living in one of the most liberal cities in one of the most liberal States in the country. Fair and unbiased? Balanced? IS there such a thing? I don't think 24/7/365 media coverage on cable/satellite TV has done anything to improve our communications...if anything, I think it's added more stress and depression to lives that are already on overdrive. Same with all these talk shows on the radio!!! Sorry about the rant, Marty...but our 'over-connection' -- meaning cell phones, internet, etc -- is something that just BUGS me.

Suzz said...

I have to jump in on this one. I, too, miss a daily paper that had real news, both local and national. I grew up reading the comics and society sections. Remember when newspapers carried lots of local news and lists of births? Can't do that these days; too many crazy people out there. I've given up on network and commercial cable news. I watch PBS and BBC news reports and read the BBC news online. I cancelled my subscription to the newspaper when the comics were no longer funny. I found my favorites online and have them posted on my blog in hopes others will enjoy a laugh, too.

goodworks1 said...

I read the International Herald Tribune online. They have real writers who do real feature stories, with depth even... :D

I also keep track of BBC headlines for 'world' and 'Americas' on the RSS feed.

It's interesting to note how those headlines compare with the AP, etc.