Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Print Press

The topic for discussion today on one of my listservs for writers and editors involved the New York Times decision to begin charging for online subscriptions and whether any of us would pony up to have it delivered to our inbox. Here's my response:

Today's topic is one that I'm impassioned about, so please forgive my soapbox speech here.

As a high school journalism teacher back in the early '60s in Long Beach, CA, I subscribed to two dailies, the Los Angeles Times in the a.m. and the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram in the evening. I toted the Times to school each day to use with my beginning journalism classes. In the evening I would come home from work, curl up with a glass of wine and read the local news.

Now I live in NE Washington, about 70 miles north of Spokane. Our Spokane daily has shrunk, but I still support it. And I subscribe to both the Chewelah and Colville weeklies to keep up with local news, since I live between the two communities. I also get the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Seattle Newsline on line, and have the New York Times and Reuters news on My Yahoo page.

Having lived and worked all over the world with Peace Corps, international news is very important to me. It informs my voting decisions, and the causes and charities I want to support. I also alternate between subscriptions to Time and Newsweek magazines.

During the decade that I lived overseas in four developing countries, when folks asked about what I missed, I'd list big city Sunday papers, the Lakers on television, frozen yogurt and bubble baths. When I worked at Peace Corps HQ in Washington DC, I could hardly wait to open my three-pound Washington Post each Sunday.

But I know that younger people do not access much objective journalism or favor print. They tend to get their news and commentary from websites such as The Huffington Post, Salon, and hardly impartial television stations such as Fox News and MSNBC. I'm wondering if they are able anymore to distinguish between objective reporting and opinion.

Dinosaur that I may be, at least I am semi-retired. My son, who followed in my journalistic footsteps, has spent over thirty years with four Los Angeles area papers. He was with the Press Telegram, the Valley Daily News, the Orange County Register, and for the past six years has been chief copy editor for the Times Sunday Calendar entertainment section.

During the past year and a half he has survived four rounds of layoffs there, but is grateful that the Times has not yet reduced anybody's salary or forced them to take unpaid furloughs. His former college colleagues with papers in Detroit, western Washington and smaller California cities, have lost jobs or have had their working hours and compensation drastically reduced. He is about thirteen years shy of retirement age, and really has no other kind of work experience.

I still treasure my moments with the daily paper. I like the rattle of the pages, perusing the sports statistics, pouring over the letters to the editors, and when I have a moment, especially during television commercial breaks, working the crossword puzzles.

I'm hoping that the fourth estate outlives me, but sometimes I'm afraid it won't.

"The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787.

I'd only add, and every woman, too.

On a lighter note, today was a glorious start of March in these parts...56 degrees, more like late April!

Warm regards, Terri Elders

No comments:

Post a Comment