This was an on-the-fly comment I made to an editorial in the local newspaper:
I can agree with some aspects of this piece, and disagree with others. The Internet is a great source of news, but only if you learn how to think critically and to not believe everything you read. Unfortunately for everyone who is clamoring for the death of newspapers, they do remain the primary sources of new information in this country.
Citing the purpose of newspapers as “to report the news” is misleading–newspapers are supported by advertisements, the same way television news is. Although many standards of reporting are still upheld by many reporters, I see a tendency (at least in the Herald) to give people what they want rather than the full story. Television or newspapers, people want the quick sound bite or quotation rather than in-depth reporting, which disappoints me. When was the last time you read a good long in-depth article in the Herald? When was the last time you read a well-researched opinion piece in the Herald that wasn’t reprinted from somewhere else?
Rather than dumbing things down, why not give us readers some more depth? Why not double the average word count of a story and give us more information? Why not cite your sources and let us (as readers) decide who actually knows what they are talking about? If the Herald keeps pandering to the dumbest readers, they’re contributing to the anti-intellectual movement in this country (okay, so maybe I exaggerate. Maybe.). An informed populace is essential to a Democracy, as the article says, but an incompletely informed one holds on to dangerous stereotypes and black/white views of the world.
Frankly, I like newspapers. I like being able to carry them around (when I get the time to read them). I like the sense (if not the actual truth) of objective reporting. I like that the reporters live here with the rest of us. I like being able to re-read parts of an article, something you can’t do with television news–and re-reading brings understanding. But I refuse to be talked down to by news organizations that don’t hire diligent reporters, that edit out background information that wasn’t a sound bite, and that continue to say “you need us, because we’re the only objective ones.” If you want to be needed, produce a product that’s worthwhile and worthy of being read by more than just the dumbest class of reader.