Yes, you can get the news for free online. No, it doesn’t cost anything. And then it’s gone. I’ve been thinking of why I keep paying for the newspaper. Besides that I like holding the paper when I read it, I’ve narrowed it down to why I think we need newspapers, and why I continue to subscribe to my local paper.
Online news is subject to revisionist history. Everything online is seen through the lens of the moment when it is read, since it could have been edited at any time, and often is. That’s the beauty of reporting on the web, but also the danger. You never know if what you are reading was what the actual zeitgeist was at that moment, or what looking back someone thinks about it.
There is a prevalent idea that “the media is liberal,” and that is why some claim they don’t subscribe to a local paper. I don’t buy that. The vast majority of the news that is in a newspaper is not political. Yes, in every paper, on every newscast you can find something you don’t agree with. The same thing could happen if you’re walking down the street,you shouldn’t close your eyes just because you don’t like what the person in front of you is wearing. So, don’t let a perception of bias make you walk in front of traffic.
Take a look at the pictures I have below of a few newspapers I have. Obviously we start with the most important:
Next we take it back a few years:
Yes, the big news that day was about the passing of The King, but look at what else was going on, the article right below is about The People’s Temple speeding up their move to Guyana. We know how that tragically turned out, but you see it happening here, without any hindsight. Also, look in the upper right corner, “The Son of Sam,” was having his day in court in New York. 1977 and 1978 were strange years.
Now, the next front page isn’t from the San Francisco Chronicle. Its from a few miles east of here:
This shows how news as distributed. You went with what you had, and unless you ran out a “Special Edition,” later in the day you waited until the next day to update the story. This paper came out after the US dropped the atomic bombs on Hirsohima and Nagasaki, but before Japan had surrendered.
This is why we need newspapers.