Thursday, June 24, 2010

Newspapers, One Idiot's Take

I've never pretended to be a genius*, in fact I once tried out a genius costume for Halloween and I couldn't even pull that off but you'd have to be near death to understand why newspapers are failing, why they aren't able to save themselves, and how their demise will be horrific for our society.

*Disregard those times I was drunk and I told you; "I'm the smartest person you'll ever meet."

For the past 2 years I have subscribed to the LA Times. I live in Los Angeles and I want to support the news medium that I believe to be most important. About five minutes ago I wrote to cancel my subscription. The past 4 months have gone by without me even unrolling the paper, save for when I was packing my dishes a few nights ago.

It's not that the LA Times is poorly written or that it doesn't have good articles, in fact it's nothing like that, I truly believe it's one of the finest papers I've had the pleasure to read. The paper has not always enjoyed the best reputation but I believe it's making a comeback, in terms of article quality...at the same time, they've lost me.

I want the news that affects me and only me, it's that simple. Right now there is a helicopter flying overhead in Echo Park, Los Angeles and the LA Times' website has no mention of this on the front page. The Eastsider LA and Echo Park Now are both tweeting and posting blogs about the ongoing situation. Between these blog and some others, I no longer need an entire paper, especially the entertainment, sports, and classifieds (goodbye Calendar and Food. Miss you.)

Los Angeles is a big city and the paper covers a lot of ground. 2 people being shot outside (perhaps inside?) of a marijuana clinic may not be huge news in a city of this magnitude, with this murder rate, etc. But this is Echo Park, a neighborhood enjoying a resurgence of reputation over the past several years. It's not a murder in Beverly Hills, which would garner a lot of attention, but on the same note it's not high-res photos of the Lakers either, which IS getting attention on the @LATimes twitter feed. It's all at once mind boggling and upsetting.

Upsetting because we count on print media. Without it the 24 hour news channels would have nothing to talk about, do you think they actually go hit the streets? But these days our reporting is done very locally and by people with the same vested interests as you. I don't believe for a moment that the girls over at Echo Park Now are going to score an interview with Pelosi anytime soon, like the LA Times might, so it's this larger broad news that will eventually fall apart. We'll miss that! I think we all know that our politicians deserve several watchful eyes on them at all times.

It seems that as we get more global as a society we are perhaps become more local with our news. Somewhere, the two sides must meet. I'm not sure where that will but I hope the "when" is soon.

I went to school for Music Industry (yeah, that is a major) during the rise and fall of Napster. Our teachers were talking about the great, record breaking sales of albums and then the lawsuits started and my professors predicted that record company's were going to ruin their own industry by taking apart the website. These were smart people, by no means were my professors genius level, but they were, for the most part, somewhat intelligent and that's all it took to see the forest through the trees.

Technology is hear to stay, the Unabomber be damned. So newspapers can either "Music Industry" themselves or embrace localization...then hopefully the food industry will do the same.

**tl:dr - blogs good, newspapers bad...both are needed. And I went to school.

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