Last week it was announced that the Daily News had laid off half its editorial staff. The parent company, the aptly named Tronc, Inc., explained that the layoffs were necessary in order to focus on its online media. If you plan to get all your news online, you probably know by now that the internet is a great place to find cat videos. Do you hear “laurel” or “yanni?” Did you happen to catch Chrissy Teigen’s post-baby bikini body? So did I, but I wouldn’t call it news.
It’s true, you can find news all over the internet if you search for it. And the more you search for it, the more the news seems to be all about you and your view of the world. And why are ads suddenly popping up for Chrissy Teigen’s new post-baby bikini collection? The model that the importance of news is based on hits to a website is inherently flawed. If that remains the model, news will eventually only be about models.
A newspaper is a wonder of modern technology. You grab it from your mailbox, open it up, and the news is right there- you don’t have to search for it and figure out if the person who wrote the story has half a brain or not. At my house the paper lands halfway up our driveway and I don’t even have to go all the way to the mailbox. So few letters are delivered into our mailbox lately that there is a wasp’s nest there now. Actually, that might be the reason we get so few letters. I had the last laugh when I put four stamps on the nest, put the flag up then ran like hell into my house, locked all the doors and hid under the couch.
Reading has always separated the informed from the uninformed. If someone comes along and tells you that they know more than everyone else, but doesn’t read, you should be concerned. The people who don’t know what they don’t know are the most dangerous. “Wow, so let me get this straight- you know more than all the generals, and yet you never read a book? That’s impressive sir, but how did you do it?” “I called up a few YouTube videos, and BOOM. There you go. AND I added 4 MPH to my tennis serve.”
Hey, I might not be a military genius but at least I know how to change the windshield wiper blades on my wife’s car. How do I know this? From watching YouTube videos of course, but I still had to throw the wiper assembly across the garage to figure out exactly how it disassembles. My point is this: YouTube videos can only get you so far in life.
A war on information is waged by those who stand to gain if people remain ignorant. In my lifetime I never thought I would hear someone who was not a dictator call the press the “enemy of the people.” I always considered that Genghis Khan might be an enemy of the people, or companies that pollute the water supply. Or termites, or Tom Brady. Traffic lights that take forever are an enemy of the people, and products wrapped in plastic that you can’t open without a pair of scissors or a pair of pliers, sometimes both. Reality programs that are OBVIOUSLY scripted are the enemy of the people, and produce that you buy from the supermarket that went bad before you even brought it home. Okay, maybe not Tom Brady, but Jesus, can’t the guy ever sit down for a few minutes and age? The free press is the enemy of the people who are corrupt, misguided, tyrannical.
I once got an email from a reader who had mistaken me for a journalist. Far from being a journalist, I’m just a dude who enjoys stringing adjectives together for decorative purposes. But there are people who can literally write, who know not to misuse the word “literally.” What they write is important, timely and they have every word they need at their fingertips. I wish I could think of the word for those people.
If newspapers go away the chances are they are not coming back, and you will be left with people tweeting you what to believe, and they might not necessarily be the world’s brightest. “Clapping back” on Twitter isn’t enough. Well, it might be enough, since I don’t actually know what it means. What you should do is support real news, in a newspaper that hires reporters that go to Afghanistan. Do you think Perez Hilton is going to Afghanistan? I implore you to go to your mailbox right now, and read your newspaper. Watch out because there might be a wasp’s nest in there. And if there’s any mail addressed to the wasp, don’t open it- that’s a federal crime and the newspaper will print your name in the police blotter section.
Are you a female who likes to sing harmonies? Join me in a new musical trio: firstname.lastname@example.org