Remembering “The Times” Past

The Star- The Times- The Journal

There was a day when I read the local dailies morning and evening. The morning paper was the Times, the evening addition, The Star. I must have inherited that practice from my elders, because I was almost incapable of not reading the paper at the breakfast and dinner table. Looking back I wonder if my children noticed? I wonder if they have the same habit? Since two of them live on opposite coasts I rarely see them in real life action- only holiday mode.

As the KC Star lost its relevance I turned to the Wall Street Journal which was delivered to the foyer of my high rise before 6 a.m. Along with the Journal, I subscribed to magazines- Playboy for a year, Esquire, GQ, Maxim, Men’s Journal (great fitness articles), and a few others. One day it all seemed a waste. Cable television provided all the in-depth news and an over abundance of filler, most of which was unfit for human consumption. Also, I stopped subscribing to the KC papers, and The Journal. They were outdated by the time I unwrapped them.

At the time, I was working with European clients, so I usually woke up around 3-4 a.m., downed a couple of espressos, an almond butter laden muffin and started work. As I worked cable news was on in the background. Consequently, printed news went out of relevance quickly. Usually, around 9 a.m. I ate breakfast and by 1 p.m. I was ready for a power nap. After which I worked until 3-4 p.m. By then, I had my fill of endless loops of news sometimes hours old and I filled the audio void with the cable system background music or my own CDs.

Today, I would love to read USA Today, or the Journal at breakfast, but, where I live the news would be a couple days old before it arrived in the mail. Not much sense in that. Usually, Maureen and I discuss current topics, day’s plans, life, our history, work that needs to be done, etc. Sometimes we have CNBC in the background, unless we eat on the screen porch. Other times we just enjoy eating and talking, but, it’s not the same, as unfurling the paper to see what happened overnight. Pouring over stories about local events, sports, business and news. There was a magic connected to print back then. Today, it’s stale. Even USA Today with it’s multi-color format has general interpretation of life or news. We’ve moved beyond the individual’s insight.

Truth Panels or, or, or . . . ?

News shows have panels because we won’t believe just one source any more. So, they clone panel guests, who in theory are individuals, but, in practice are spouting party line talking points. I wonder if people in the Soviet Union reached a point where they looked at each other during the news and said,

“that’s all b.s.?”

That’s how I feel now. It’s just a giant fishbowl from which a few different color species are plucked to feed us the current b.s. The old print journalists varied from puppets for the local machine to national columnist who might or might not be hawking a party line. Interspersed were real people attempting to tell the stories they were taught to tell in journalism school- who, what, where, when, how. Then came the all important- “why.”

If one thing killed journalism (yes, I mean journalism as a whole), it was probably “why.”

“Why” has become interpretation.

“Why did the guy shoot the other guy?”
Traditional “why” answer- because he was from a rival gang, he had long history, over a woman, or money.

Today’s answer would have a dozen different colorations. None of which might be the actual causality. We could look at the shooting of Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords as an example of agenda driven “why” answers. Nowhere in the quote in-depth unquote analysis, did anyone say-

“a man driven by a variation of motives walked into a crowd, shot and killed a number of people, with his primary target being U.S. Representative Gabriel Giffords.”

That’s too plain. Not enough emotional umph to keep the viewing connected.

As the old tv news producers used to say, “blood and guts sells.”

I miss facts. I miss facts on paper. I miss my daily news papers, and the joy of discovering new facts, and information which I can trust. Am I old? Am I paranoid? Or, do I see life as it is?

Does it bother you information is being packaged according to political agendas? Where is the line between journalism and propaganda?

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