Saturday, January 10, 2009

We No Longer Take A Newspaper

For the first time in my whole life I live in a house that does not have a regular subscription to a daily newspaper. This is not to say that we are no longer keeping up with the news (although it is SO bad that often I would rather bury my head in the sand), rather it is a vote of no confidence in the quality of daily journalism. While I find journalism leaving a lot to be desired everywhere, in the UK it seems to be particularly unattractive.

I read a newspaper so that I might learn what is going on in the world, and while I realize that I am going to get it funneled to me through the perceptions of the writer, I have reached a point where I am tired of the journalist propaganizing me for his or her particular agenda. Since my initial first-hand encounters with the press in the early 1970s when I discovered that their description of events at which I was present did not seem to jibe with what I had seen and experienced, I have been leary of the media. Over the years, on those rare occasions when I have been interviewed, I have concluded that rather than listening to what I am saying and engaging with me, they have instead been looking for a hook on which to hang a story that might have a whiff of controversy about it. Since the dreadful fall of 2003, after a particularly painful episode, I have avoided dealing with journalists altogether.

It seems to me that if we want to get a rough idea of what is actually going on then we need to gather our news from a whole variety of sources, taking into account the innate biases that these sources might have. One newspaper with its own editorial line is no longer enough, and if taken needs to be supplemented by all sorts of other publications in various media formats. Neither is one broadcasting source enough, whether it is the BBC or the Fox News Channel, each of which has their own bias despite their vaunted claims otherwise.

These days we find ourselves primarily drawing on the Economist, the BBC (both domestic and the World Service), the online New York Times, CNN International, CNBC, Bloomberg, the online Tennessean, the online Times of London, and the headline services that appear on AOL, Yahoo, and other internet portals. The important thing is then to measure reports from different sources against one another, mentally debating their reports and assertions. I know that I am going to get much more serious reporting of current events from the BBC World Service, the Economist, and the NY Times, but then unlike AOL and Yahoo they don't give me interesting little snippets of information that provide some flavor for our worldview.

I think it is the Times of London that has disappointed me the most since returning to England. This once great icon of serious news reporting seems to have lost its way in the rough and tumble of the highly competitive newspaper market in Britain, and as a result the perspective of its reporters and correspondents leaves the reading asking questions about what actually is going on. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum the popular daily tabloids are about as helpful as the average weekly tabloid found at the supermarket checkout in the USA! This might be amusing, but it needs to be remembered that it is these that are shaping popular opinion.

The media that I have missed most since returning to Britain has been National Public Radio and the wonderful current affairs programming of Public Television. NPR has always said that it has modeled itself on the BBC -- well, I would have to say that in much of its handling of the news it has surpassed the Beeb by far.

The funny thing is that I don't feel anything is missing now that a newspaper is no longer delivered each day to our home, which rather surprises me. I rather like it that twice a day the New York Times plops into my online intray, and despite the howls of some that the Times is too liberal there is something stately about the way in which it handles the stories and issues that are concerning the world. I am actually looking forward to Amazon beginning to sell the Kindle outside of the USA because I intend to buy one -- and could very well subscribe to have the NY Times delivered to it!

I guess, therefore, that there are two reasons why we no longer receive the delivery of a newspaper. One is that the journalism is not of a quality that we actually want to pay for it, and the other is that we are actually find ourselves being ushered further into the electronic age of news delivery services. However, I am old-fashioned enough to say that if a newspaper is worth buying then I would jump for it. When we were recently on vacation in Vienna we read the International Herald Tribune, a publication that I think is a real winner.

There is increasing talk about newspapers going under in the midst of the economic crisis, and of journalists losing their jobs. Perhaps one of the ways this could be prevented would be their willingness to publish the quality that would make you mad not to subscribe to their publication.


alabamaauthor said...

Dear Richard,

You asked in your blog that you wanted to know some good news. The good news is that through Christ my daughter, Son in law and three precious grandchildren will be moving into your wonderful solar home in Franklin.

The Lord does move in mysterious ways. Through prayer, fasting and tears I urged my Annah to not give up hope that the Lord DID hear her pleas and that there was a perfect home for her.

God Bless you and Rosemary.
I promise you that you will have the best tenants possible. Annah and Michael have along way to go in their walk with Christ. They forget sometimes who is in control. My heart is so full of thanksgiving tonight I doubt I will sleep. I have read your posts and they are lovely and speak to my heart now.

I recently lost my Father, last month and my sister is terminal and will pass soon. My oldest son, Annah's brother Thax had a motor vehicle accident and shattered his spine. Mercifully, he was spared and he is walking again.

As for me, I am trying to complete two novels which have a message of faith, hope and redemption. My husband, Jim is a devout Christian and I nudge him ever so tenderly to give his all to Christ and become a Priest.

A long story made short. Do you know the Gribbins from Tuscaloosa? Emmett was my first cousins father in law, he was married to Alice, the eldest daughter of Emmett and Elsie. They have both passed, but Scott, Alice's eldest son has named his son Emmett in honor of Emmett Senior. We both love Sewanee and consider it a place we might retire to someday, who knows in these days if we ever retire?

In Closing, Jim and I were members of the Church of the Ressurection effective 2001-2002. We moved to Philadelphia for a short while and moved our letter. We are now Presbyterians in is Tucaloosa,Alabama. My heart wants to be a missionary, Jim isn't so sure about that. He is a scholar, I am a dreamer.

Please pray for our family. Please know by your good deed today of giving Annah the happiest news of her lifetime that she was going to really live in her dream house and raise her children as she was raised with sheep, goats, chickens and a big garden.
I am simply speechless.
I look forward to meeting you someday.
My Mother's people are from the border town of Lauder in Scotland and our Castle, Thrilestane is still standing, we hope to make it there this summer.
God Bless you and your kindness and your discernment.

Patti "Alabama" Brown

Richard Kew said...


Why don't you send me your email address and then I will respond personally. I knew Emmett Gribben well and actually shared a platform with him a couple of times -- once in Sewanee.


alabamaauthor said...
Look forward to hearing from you Richard.
Kind regards,
Patti Brown

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