Monday, August 4, 2008
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!