On my way to the park, there’s a news box where I often stop to bend down and scan the headlines. If a story interests me, I crouch a little more to peruse the fine print. Part of me feels guilty about reading the news for free, knowing people had to be paid to gather the information. But I haven’t felt guilty enough to pay for a subscription. I don’t like the idea of paper piling up to be recycled, for one thing. For another, I can probably find the same information on the web for free.
If I were alone in my attitude, newspapers wouldn’t be struggling to survive. Most people, according to pundits, are migrating to the web to keep abreast of the news. Print media is struggling to follow them. Many journals have Facebook pages now and their internet ads look more like articles than promotions. The need to attract readers is so constant that electronic engineers are considered to be the new artists of the age — or so says Will Hearst, Chairman of the Hearst Corporation. (“The New News Business,” by John Huey, Martin Nisenholtz and Paul Sagan, Fortune, 7/22/13, pg. 80)
It’s difficult to think of engineers, those guy and gals who sport pocket protectors in their shirts, as Picassos of the 21st century, but in the competition for eyeballs, innovation is as sought after as ice cubes on a summer day. For good or ill, the Web, has become a global town where everyone wants to meet and have their say. And there’s no lack of voices: commentators, bloggers and all manner of opinion columns that pass for news. But what, I wonder, is becoming of “objective’ journalism?
To function, a democracy needs reliable sources of information, articles that have been checked and crossed checked for accuracy. What passes for news on the internet provides no such guarantee. Some of it has been vetted, of course. The virtual New York Times is as reliable as the print edition, I have no doubt. Still I begin to wonder if a newspaper with my morning coffee shouldn’t be considered a necessity rather than a luxury. Maybe I owe that battered news box, covered in graffiti, a little more respect. The next time I pass it on my way to the park, instead of stooping down to scan a headline, I might throw some quarters in the slot.
(Courtesy of www.dnainfo.com)