Archive for March 1st, 2013

Thirty years ago , when my friend Bill said that newspapers were on the way out , that they were an inefficient way of delivering the news , I didn’t believe him. Today, newspapers are on their last legs and Bill ‘s prediction has certainly come  true . Many of them have gone under, or are limping along barely kept afloat by ad revenue while others have gone online . One of those that has made the switch to digital, thankfully , is the New York Times;  it is something that I enjoy reading daily.

In this age of computerization and falling print circulation , the Times is perhaps the only American newspaper to provide in-depth reporting on international and national issues.Because of falling revenues , other newspapers have cut back on their staff and use pool  of reporters ; this has severely affected the quality of their product. News coverage has been severely curtailed and what there is of it is homogenized.

Before newspapers started charging for online access , I used to sample a variety of newspapers. It was depressing to see what had happened to some of them like the Cleveland Plain Dealer ; there was preponderance of local news and a corresponding dearth of international coverage.Thus , at a time of globalization , our windows on the world  were closing fast .

What a pleasure it is to read the Times . I will not pretend that it is  what it used to be but it is still streets ahead of  the rest . Other newspapers focus increasingly on what is happening in the United States ; coverage of the rest of the world , particularly Africa and Latin America, is limited , restricted to reporting of major issues and without much analysis . It is sad to see what has happened to the Wall Street Journal . There was a time , twenty or so years ago , when I used to like  its non business articles , many of which were analytical and gave good background information on international issues. Since Rupert Murdoch took control , the WSJ  seems to pander to entrenched business interests and is so extreme in its views that it seems to be written by moonlighting reporters from Fox News.

The New York Times  is the only newspaper that covers the entire world and provides a thoughtful analysis of events and trends. There is also high quality  reportage of the arts , dining and food , movies , education , health , movies and TV and books ( all of which interest me ) and architecture, home and garden , music , business , science and technology , real estate, travel and theater ( which are of less interest).The one shortcoming of the Times is that the sports section is not as extensive or enjoyable as other papers. In the past I have enjoyed Times sports columnists like Arthur Daley,Red Smith , Dave Anderson, and Ira Berkow but  the measured style of the Times is  not well suited to day-to-day sports reporting. For that , I prefer the blue collar style of the Tabloids or of Yahoo News.

A particular delight is the Opinions section which is thought-provoking . So also the Op Ed page . I  am not much interested in politics but if I were to classify myself , I’d call myself a centrist , perhaps a little left of center , but still a middle of the road type . I find that I agree with the Times opinions most , but not all ,of the time. I reject the ideas of those who would brand the Times a ” liberal” paper, but if agreeing with its editorials makes me a liberal , so be it . I am happy because the Times validates my personal views . There have  been times when reading the Wall Street Journal, listening to Fox news or the radio, or reading the comments on Yahoo makes me wonder if I’m living in an alternate universe . Since Mr. Obama became president , the shrillness of so-called ” conservative ” dissent has been only too obvious . Thank goodness I can take refuge in the Times .

In one respect , the digital version of the Times is even better than the print version . That is the ability of readers to post comments on certain articles and to know what others are thinking about the subject. Very often , I find readers coming up with very different takes on the article , viewpoints that give me a fresh perspective . By no means are all of them in lockstep with the Times viewpoint but , whether pro or con , they are usually thoughtful  and logical and they are articulated extremely well. There is none of the name-calling and taunting that one encounters on other online message boards. Reading the letters one feels in the presence of kindred spirits . It’s like having a conversation with a group of old friends , familiar enough with each other as to be comfortable , but not so familiar that we are bored with the company.

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