I’ve been visiting the family in Ohio and I’ve had some interesting conversations with my 80 year old grandmother who is, quite rightly, appalled by the dwindling content and quality of her local paper. She wanted to know why papers seem to be dying and remarked--in the sort of colorful terms only she could summon--on the terrible shame of it. Maybe I should have just shown her this posted today by my friend Rattlergator. The "most trusted" man in television journalism, Walter Cronkite, gets the most untrustworthy send-off possible from the New York Times? The shame of this deserves even more colorful language than my dear grandmother can muster. But that’s why I told her I can’t stand the tyranny of printed "news" and haven’t bothered to subscribe to a paper in more than 10 years (we get our local rag for free and without asking)--that, and the fact that by the time you get your news in a paper, it isn’t "news" anymore.
I understand the not wanting to sit and read on a computer part of the problem (especially at 80) but, in time and with things like Kindle, I expect the comfort issues will be overcome. But even with the strain on the eyes and the inconvenience of having to be tied to a wall or a clunky notebook, I could never go back to the tyranny of a newspaper where you can’t simultaneously search for more information, fact check for yourself, find commentary and then comment to your friends and enemies about what you’ve read. Maybe it’s a sign of my youthful (er . . . well, comparatively speaking, anyway) impatience with slow moving things, but I don’t like my news stale or thrown at me as if I were a peasant and it a bread crumb from on high (which is why I also do not like TV news with its repetitive and obnoxious droning). I don’t want another NYT or Walter Cronkite to emerge and be considered "the leading authority" . . . though God rest both of their souls. Perhaps this means chaos . . . but if it does, I like it. Besides, I don’t miss the ink stains on my fingers, trying to deal with the impossible dimensions of a broadside while curled up in bed or sitting at the breakfast table, or, still worse . . . the flickering of 24 hour television news station while trying to sleep. All the news is not, indeed, fit to print . . . and if it is worth watching, there’s always YouTube. I’m not "Kindling" yet but I hope and expect that improvements will, eventually, drive me to it. But, for now, when I go to the trouble of printing something out and taking it to read in bed, it had better be good.