Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I Get My News from TV and Radio

Lou Reed reading.

The statement above was on one of the self-descriptive memes going around. Doesn't matter whose because I think it's a fairly common statement among people under thirty-five. It seems to transcend sex, level of education, area of the country, profession, etc.

My question is why. Newspapers are pretty cheap in the scheme of things. And the sort of investigative journalism that newspapers have traditionally paid for cannot be found on TV and radio unless I'm mistaken. When this blogger says, TV, does he mean The Daily Show or does he mean CNN, FOX, MSNBC or the Evening News.

I think news from all of these venues has more of a slant that news in a newspaper ( excepting the editorial page, where it is clear that it is opinion). Do you trust Chris Mathews or Wolf Blitzer or Katie Couric or Jonathan Stewart to give you unbiased well-researched news. If you don't subscribe to a newspaper as a writer, can you honestly complain that your book was not reviewed?

We complain that newspapers are not as good as they used to be but we made them that way by pulling our support. We say we read them online but how long will they be available there if no one pays for it.

Newspapers have traditionally been the most reliable sources of unbiased news yet for a few bucks a week, we're giving
it up. I just don't get it. Please explain.


George said...

I suspect part of the answer to the decline of newspapers is that radio and TV transformed "news" into a form of entertainment. As you well know, reading is hard work. It's easy to watch Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow. Most people are going to pick CNN over THE NEW YORK TIMES.

Victor Gischler said...

I'll be happy to explain, since I'm the person (or one of the people) who freely admits to not reading newspapers. By the way, I'm over 35.

I'm impatient, and I don't enjoy reading the newspaper. My reading time is limited, and I'd rather read novels and short stories. Also, I feel smart enough to recognize bias and filter it out. (Or agree with it or scream as I choose.) And when I do happen to read a newspaper, I have no trouble spotting the bias ... it's there, just a bit more subtle. (And I don't mean the editorial page.)

When I say I don't read newspapers, I'm not bragging. But I'm not ashamed either.

Sepiru Chris said...

Our news comes from: News outlets on the Internet, South China Morning Post, International Herald Tribune, Financial Times, The Economist, Der Spiegel, Stern, Foreign Affairs Quarterly, National Geographic, L'Hebdo (but that subscription is about to lapse), and Newsweek are generally how we get our news. Then things like Far Eastern Economic Review and journals to societies we belong.

Most people we know probably have similar magazines coming to their home or office or both...

I have never seen reading as hard work, George. I've always seen it as a pleasure.

My wife told me she's getting iphones for us so she can listen to Chinese radio (forget that for me), but that is more to keep her language skills up.

We have no TV, but I always get infuriated when I watch TV news because it is so sensational, and frequently wrong. Some of the national providers are not bad on their short-wave bands. Stations like Deutschewelle (in English).

Thats what we do, for what its worth, and we are only a few years over 35.

Clair D. said...

I get my news on the internet.

I used to get the Detroit Free Press, but when they decided they're dropping to three day a week delivery, that was enough for me to cut my subscription. There's no where near enough to entice me to use my subscription dollars for their online version. I got the paper because there was nothing quite like reading the paper at the kitchen table or snuggled up with Hubby. Doesn't work so well with my laptop. My paper abondoned me... I did not leave them. And I'm still quite a few years short of thirty five.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

I'm 40 and I get most of my news from the radio (NPR) and a couple of Internet sources. I still subscribe to the local paper for...well, local news. I don't linger over the paper. It's maybe a 15-20 minute read while I have my first coffee of the day. A lot of the news is already old by the time the morning paper comes out anyway.

John McFetridge said...

Good timing on this post, Patti.

Let's say I get my news from TV and radio but I get my information from newspapers.

On the weekend the Toronto Star ran an article about the future of investigative reporting. Of course, as a newspaper it was highly biased towards newspapers, but it made a pretty good point that only newspapers assign reporters (sometimes many) and research staff to spend a long time digging up a story - rather than reacting to what's been made public that day.

The Star gave some examples of stories it had worked on over the past few years that then got picked up by other news sources, once the papers hit the street.

Then, last night I went to a panel discussion of non-fiction crime writers - five writers who have written many books that all began as investigative reports for newspapers. (a sideline here, the book "The War on Women," is excellent, but hard to read. As the author pointed out, more women have been killed in their homes in the last year than all the military andpolice deaths combined - and almost never is the killer charged with murder).

The Star article did point out that a couple of places have started up to finance investigative reports that are then given away to whatever news source wants to run them - newspapers, online, whatever. Most of these have real ideological slants, of course (as I guess newwspapers do, but oh, weren't we naive in how far we thought that slant could go?) but some are working hard to keep ideology out of it.

It's really very early days in this and it may not be all bad.

Cormac Brown said...

Seriously? People believe that they are too busy and they'd rather have their news spoon-fed to them.

I can understand someone who has to drive in from an outer suburb listening to the radio on the way in, but the radio only gives you a soundbite on a subject and very little real or pertinent details.

Newspapers require you to act and to think. The TV and the radio give you the news at set intervals, and people get to revert to Pavlovian canines.

The SF Chronicle tried to push me further away this week, moving the food section to Sundays from Wednesdays, and giving us the worst font ever (this the first time the font has changed in my entire forty-three years). I will still stand by the paper, albeit in its Internet form.

Randy Johnson said...

I miss my newspaper, reading it every morning over coffee. I had to give it up for purely physical reasons. I am disabled and can't retrieve my paper. As I live alone and don't get visitors sometimes for days at a time, the news is old by then.
I talk with people every day on the phone, but sometimes I have three or four papers piled in the yard at one time.
I tried restating the paper with a guarantee that it would be put behind the screen door each day. The first two arrived thrown in the yard as usual, so I just canceled again.
Circumstances force me to rely on television and the internet. I like to believe I'm smart enough to separate the BS from the truth. Maybe not.

JD Rhoades said...

I do read newspapers. I just read them online, along with a variety of other news sources, and I do it while sipping my morning coffee. NPR is what I wake up to and listen to on the short drive to work, but my main source is the Internet. This is largely because the only halfway decent paper (the Raleigh NC News and Observer) refuses to deliver to my house...they "don't have a route" where I live, although they do deliver a few blocks away. So I said "screw it" and read the same paper on the 'net for free. AND the Washington Post AND the New York Times. Although I'm not reading the NYT so much since they started charging for some of their content.

I haven't watched TV news regularly in years.

pattinase (abbott) said...

But if you read them online, will they continue to exist once the print editions disappear? How would that work? I am not a news junkie by any means but relying on TV for my news seems dangerous. TV news is a few stories built around ads for senior products.
I trust NPR but still...that's just one source. And if I were a conservative, would the one source being Rush Limbaugh be enough.

JD Rhoades said...

I don't know if print editions are ever going to completely disappear. But the primary focus, I think, will end up being the web-based content, with ad sales across both print and online editions as the profit center.

Victor Gischler said...

MSNBC, FOX, and CNN run news 24 hours a day. Much of it is recycled, yes, but they are constantly updating and discussing the day's events. You can get all you want. Also, when the president or a senator or Blago has a news confernece or makes a speech, these networks put the cameras on them and you can get all the hooey straight from the horse's mouth ... not filtered thru a journalist however unbiased they seem to be. That's as direct as it gets. I don't generally read newspapers, but that's not to say I've never read them. After swallowing Derrida and Harold Bloom and Kant and Said in big hippo-gagging chunks during grad school, I don't find reading a newspaper (many of which are written at the eighth grade level) to be a process which makes me "act and think."

None of this is meant to talk anyone out of reading a newspaper. Probably I'd be a little more informed if I read the thing front to back every day. I'm not sweating it.

Dana King said...

I get my news from newspapers online, too. There are two advantages: I can read out of town papers (including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for the current scoop on the Stillers, Penguins, and Pirates), but, even better, I can take advantage of links to catch myself up on stories I only recently became aware of.

I believe it's onoy a matter of time before someone comes up with a valid business model to sustain newspapers online. I'd even be willing to pay a nominal fee for a couple of favorites.

I haven't watched TV news, national or local, in years; too much fluff. I do occasionally watch The Daily Show, if only because they do the best job on television in looking back to what newsmakers have said and done historically to place a current event in context. Satire, yes, but with a lot of truth in it.

George said...

Sepiru Chris: if you don't think reading is hard work, you've never tried to read Hegel.

Sepiru Chris said...


I hear you there; Hegel is not much easier in German either.

But, while half of the difficulty of reading Georg is his dialectical style, the other half comes from the background that he requires, not just assumes, of his readers.

If you haven't digested (not just read) all Western philosophy up to his good self, he is not interested in you as a reader. That has been my take on him, at least.

That said, most newspapers, news journals, and even most specialist journals are not building up their arguments as laboriously as Georg did, nor are they assuming as much background knowledge.


Barbara Martin said...

I get a daily paper six days a week and try to read the first section in the morning before I do anything else. I don't watch TV anything, and the internet news is to sensational and often incorrect.