Wednesday, April 25, 2018

'The world wouldn't be a world without the newspaper.'

Labor, by Will Barnet (Metropolitan Museum of Art) 
     You know what's hard work? Deboning whitefish. A machine can't do it. So a guy stands in a chilled room—has to be chilled so the fish won't spoil. He runs his bare—has to be bare, so he can feel the pin bones—left hand over the whitefish, while the right one pulls out the nearly-invisible bones with a needle-nosed pliers.
     I know this because I once watched it done. And what did the whitefish deboner talk about? How fortunate he was to have his job. How happy it made him.
     That stuck with me, and explains why I winced, a little, at the Sun-Times' new slogan: "The hardest-working newspaper in America."
     My first thought was: "How do we know? Did we study all the other newspapers? Because otherwise we've installed a lie atop the front page."
     Loyal employee that I am, or try to be, I groped for a bright spin: "mere puffery," as my lawyer friends would say. Like "World's Best Coffee." Why not? The Tribune called itself "The World's Greatest Newspaper," for half a century (a boast fossilized in the call letters "WGN") and that wasn't true either.
     So I understand why “hard-working” now appears on every page of our print editions. What is the task of this newspaper? Only absorbing everything happening now in the entire world with an emphasis on Chicago and Illinois. Filter out the superfluous and present the essential events in a completely accurate and public form within a few minutes of their occurring. Do so, lately, in an environment where bald lies are boldly uttered at the highest levels while preserving a reputation for accuracy so great that our mistakes are remembered forever. “IT’S REAGAN AND FORD” a Sun-Times front page headline trumpeted about the 1980 presidential ticket. It wasn’t.


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14 comments:

  1. I pay for content. I currently subscribe to the NYT, WAPo, WSJ LA Times, Miami Herald and the Chicago Tribune. Other than you and in his day Ebert I never read the SunTimes. But I'll consider a subscription. The price is ok. The one paper that I think is totally overpriced is the Boston Globe.

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  2. Well, that's good company to be in. I hope you do consider subscribing. Might I ask: Why the Miami Herald?

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  3. I've been a Sun-Times subscriber for about 30 years. Before that I just bought the paper on my way to work. I did take a break from the subscription for a while after some abysmal delivery service, but I continued to buy the paper every day.

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  4. I've subscribed to the Sun-Times or more than 20 years. If you read this, you'll understand why and the lengths I will go to to make sure I get it every morning. (in case you missed it!) http://therumpus.net/2013/02/stakeout/

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    1. Thanks for The Rumpus article. Backs up and dramatizes Neil's approach. A fun read. Reminds me of when I lived in a Milwaukee slum for a while. Even at a dime a beer I'd run out of money from time to time and would take a paper from outside a store without paying and then after I got paid, I'd take one paper and leave enough extra change to pay for the ones I'd "stolen."

      john

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    2. I very much enjoyed your article. I'd probably have more sympathy for a newspaper thief if he spread his larceny around instead of repeatedly stealing from the same victim.

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  5. I like the Herald because it covers a part of the country that my other papers don't. I find their coverage of the tourist industry especially intersting. Their recent coverage of the Parkland tragedy has been very well done.

    What I really would like is a secondary markets "trending news" subscription. The idea would be that you pay a monthly fee and when major news is breaking in a market you are given access to the local papers. For example when I wanted to read about the incident at Cracker Barrel this week I turned to The Tennesseean. I like to read local perspectives when things happen. I really don't want a full year subscription to that paper but I'd like then to get something when I access their site.

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  6. Cracker Barrel? I hope you mean Waffle House or else I've missed something.

    I subscribe to the Tampa Bay Times and that also gives me access to the Washington Post. I also subscribe to the Columbus Dispatch and the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, because they're reasonable and they're essentially my hometown newspapers.

    The Waffle House shooting happened less than two miles from where my son lived for a period of time in 2017. I know there's a lot of those establishments throughout the country but they seemed especially numerous in Nashville to me, the times that I visited.

    I agree, Annie, I'll frequently look for local news sources when a big story happens.

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    1. I live in Racine and we also get access to the Washington Post. I wonder how many papers they do that with and how much they are losing my not charging.

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    2. I live in Racine and we also get access to the Washington Post. I wonder how many papers they do that with and how much they are losing my not charging.

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  7. I thought that was a Lewis Hine photo atop the blog today. Here are a bunch more of newsies, if anybody's interested:

    https://mashable.com/2016/06/05/newsies/#HgUXMtrNXsq9

    I was a little put off by the S-T's new slogan, as well, but certainly hope that the effort to increase subscriptions is successful.

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  8. Well said. I subscribe -- even though they took away my weather word.

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  9. I grew up in Wisconsin and still have a place in Door County, so I subscribe to the Green Bay Press Gazette to keep up with Wisconsin politics and the Packers. But would hate to think of that as my primary news source. Also, the internet allows a bit of international exposure, reading The Guardian, The Times and The Economist on line. But the Sun-Times with my breakfast tea is essential.

    Tom

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  10. In the Wall Street Journal, I saw this letter to the editor that encapsulates my vie and gives me hope:

    I am a high school student. Flipping through each page of the paper exposes me to articles on a variety of topics. In contrast, scrolling through digital news triggers an onslaught of algorithms catered to personal preferences. Follow the trails of “you may also like“ and soon all the information on the webpage aligns with one’s individual views.

    A broad understanding of current affairs is best gained fromreading the news in print and will help prevent the “echo chamber“ and “confirmation bias“ that afflict our society.
    Melissa Lee, Sugar Land, Texas

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