As a retiree, I have a lot more time for myself, and I am enjoying it. I go to “Aquasize” classes at the local YMCA, I read a lot, I watch a bit (not a great deal) more TV than I used to, I can take advantage of lower prices and smaller crowds to go to the movies during the day (we went to an afternoon showing of Beauty and the Beast just the other day – I liked it a lot!), I can go poke around at the public library to see what I can find which looks interesting to read. AND, I can actually READ a newspaper!
Yes, Bonnie and I got The Sylva Herald every week for years and The Asheville Citizen-Times pretty much every Sunday, but I have to admit that I didn’t really READ them all that closely. I enjoyed the Sunday funnies and hung on to the TV schedule from the Asheville paper and I, probably, paid a bit more attention to the stories in the Herald because it dealt with local issues which were rarely (if ever) even mentioned on the Asheville TV news, but I can’t say that looking at the paper was much of a priority for me.
That’s changed since we have retired. We now (as of quite recently) get the Omaha World-Herald on a daily basis. We have been getting the weekend (Fri., Sat., & Sun.) papers practically since we moved, but we recently upgraded to daily. Yes, I know that paper means killing trees, although newsprint can be recycled and Omaha does recycle paper, glass, and most plastic, so I feel less guilty about taking a daily paper than I might under other circumstances. Anyway, I am finding that I am really enjoying getting the paper and spending the time to actually read a good deal of it. So, I thought I’d make a few comments about why I find this desirable.
The most important reason why this has become of some importance to me, I think, is that, in addition to the daily funnies, which I enjoy, and the ads, which I have always enjoyed looking at even when there isn’t a lot which we need to buy, other than groceries (the ads do allow us to take advantage of more and better bargains), there is much more detail provided as to the actual news (especially local news) than one gets from the TV. This includes a lot of stuff about what’s going on around town (now that we are in a town where a fair amount happens), so that I feel much better informed about things at the various museums, theatres, etc. than I would be without the information from the paper.
Yes, we do watch the local (and national) news on TV, but there is more depth available about stuff of some interest to me in the paper than time allows in TV coverage, especially about non-criminal stories. So I feel better informed regarding what’s going on generally than I have in the past. But, I’m not sure that it’s limited to just that.
A local paper, because it is local, is targeted to local interests, in a way that national (especially national TV) coverage simply can’t deal with. Even local TV simply doesn’t have the time to deal with providing much depth regarding local news. Besides, there are local editorials, letters to the editor (some of which I agree with and some of which annoy me), and, generally, broader coverage of local events (reviews of theatre productions, art exhibits, concerts, etc.) than one can find on television. Most importantly, perhaps, I am finding that I simply enjoy spending a bit of time (rarely more than an hour, even on the weekend) finding out what’s going on and what people who spend some time looking into the events of the day have discovered. All too often, I believe, TV coverage seems to have more of an agenda in its reportage towards what THEY think is going to make the most exciting visual story than what may, actually, be of importance to me.
Now, I won’t suggest that a newspaper (any newspaper) does not have an editorial policy, but, at least in my impression, the actual reportage seems to focus on reporting the facts and the editorial ideas are more confined to the editorial page. While I usually take a look at the editorials, I can also look at the stories and get a better sense of the actual facts: what did someone actually say, or do, as opposed to how somebody thinks I ought to feel about what happened. I like the idea that I can make up my own mind about how to respond. I also like the idea that I have the ability to respond to the events of the day, although I have not (yet) taken the opportunity to express my own opinion in the paper.
Especially since the advent of cable news, so much TV “news” seems to lean pretty heavily towards some sort of bias. Some (Fox News, seems to be a pretty good example) seems to go a bit out of its way to support a more right wing interpretation. Others (MSNBC, perhaps) seem more “progressive,” to use the current word for what used to be called liberal. I don’t know that I have a problem with the right of people to have a point of view, but I think it may be dangerous to rely exclusively on sources which view everything from any particular single perspective. I’d like to think that the responsibility of NEWS media is to report the FACTS first (that is, specifically verifiable information) before engaging in discussion as to what the “talking heads” would like us to think that it means.
My sense is that one is more likely to find factual information in newspaper reportage than in most broadcast “news.” And, I won’t even comment on so-called “Internet News,” which rarely, in my experience, even makes much of an attempt to differentiate between fact and the “spin” which they want to put on stories, no matter how much they claim to engage in “no spin” news. Most of the time, such “sources” seem as biased as supermarket tabloids.
No, all too often “news” sources begin the evening news with "Good Evening," and then proceed to tell you why it isn't. To borrow what is believed to be a quote from Sergeant Friday (now I AM dating myself, but I think it’s apt) what I’d really like is “just the facts.” And, based on my own, limited experience, one seems more likely to find them in newspapers than on TV, especially when one is dealing with local issues, and as the old saying goes “All politics is local.”
Local newspapers, in my opinion, are extremely important to our country because they are more likely to actually focus on facts, instead of opinion and because they are more likely to deal with the issues of importance to the communities where we live. The decline (even loss) of local papers is a sad comment on our times, because it seems that only they can afford the time (space) to report on real issues, not just worry about the latest scandal which they can cook up to attract our attention. In addition to providing a bit of entertainment on a daily basis, because they aren’t fighting for “eyeballs” every second, they can take the time to do some actual investigation and determine the facts about what’s going on. They are actually important to the success of our democracy, in a way which, I’m afraid, most of the more easily available “news” sources are not.
In any event, I’d like to encourage people to support their local newspaper. I suspect that, if they will take a few minutes to actually read it, they would find it a source of some entertainment, as well as a way to get a better handle on what’s actually going on as opposed to just “spin.” So, I think newspapers, especially local ones, are a good thing, and generally not terribly expensive. Give them a try, you just might find them worthwhile.