Comment of the Day: “The Washington Post Drops Its Resident Op-Ed Socialist. Good.”

Post paper

The honor of the first Comment of the Day in 2016 goes to pennagain, previously penn, who assesses the forces turning our journalistic establishment to ethics mush. It is not a pretty scenario, but well worth thinking about. He was inspired by my article about the Washington Post dropping socialist pundit Harold Meyerson in part because he wasn’t getting enough clicks. Where it stops, nobody knows.

Here’s pennagain:

Twelve [delivered Washington Post daily print editions in another commenter’s apartment building] down to two is about what the trend is for paper subscriptions running out, and free internet use taking over. In the short run, probably, the metro papers will all go behind the paywall while smaller ones hold out for local advertisers, but for now there is a steady drop in print and a rise in online subscriptions, with a (temporary) small increase in access to both. All news media — newspapers, television and radio — are losing ground to the fragmentation of the internet universe as it “narrowcasts” to further and further special interests. The long run is not a pleasant prospect.

In the meantime, the born-to-the-web generation has been raised on free news, as have a majority of the current readers who lost their home-delivered (now less than 400) newspapers.

My concern is that perception of news is probably down about the same (12:2) — the smaller the screen, the poorer the perception. Internet pages are awash with advertisements up and down the sides and through the middles, flashing and flickering, sounding out automatically (this is fairly recent distraction and, I think, a true impingement on privacy), not to mention the seductive invitations between paragraphs to links that frequently cut into the text itself.

In a medium where the whole story could be presented as such on one “page,” it is cut into pieces and continued-on other screens, each of which takes more and more time to load its own load of ads. More incentive for those not desperately hooked to the story to check out one of the links or the next site down the line instead of getting all the information saved for more advertising. Click.

I have been troubled about polarizing politics for the brief past century. Added to that, the past decade’s increased racial partitioning along (totally unrealistic) lines. Internet use is in large part responsible for both — okay, so is the declining level of education and worsening PC rigidity for at least the last four decades, and for other factors I’m forgetting to take into consideration right now, — but the web is where the now-and-future entangling takes place.

Columnists at both ends of the spectrum, as ill as those off into their unsupported opinions, can now go elsewhere with impunity from paywall censorship (happily, the American Prospect only print/digitizes quarterly). I am seeing an endless, thinner-sliced variety of choices online, each of which takes time to peruse, that is seducing the paid subscribers, if not from their primary pay-per-views, from searching for and validating other news sources worth the time and/or money.

The born-to-the-web generation knows how to surf, how to ignore the news behind paywalls because there are so many other sources out there … eenie meenie… without a reason to validate any of them. How many news bloggers have on-street or investigative reporters working for them, or have journalism experience or background, or who know a thing about what they’re writing about? How many can generate questions that will be responded to by major newsmakers? How many are cribbing from other generalized, reputable, paid-for sources, and if so, what can we expect will happen to “news” when those news sources inevitably dry up?

[And what will happen to ethics when they go?]


3 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “The Washington Post Drops Its Resident Op-Ed Socialist. Good.”

  1. Very thought-provoking, and more than a little ominous. It makes me wonder if, 20 years from now, we’ll be able to do anything more than trade insults when we venture out of our safe spaces.

  2. the internet is lauded and blamed as stealing other News sources — and so digital reading only might be doing ‘some’  news stealing and revealing. 
    But every person’s choices of where to Find something worth reading is made with their smarts and limitations: as seeking news using either peer pressures, or following the PC mode and  agreeing to promo-PR urges, or in
    preferring  only “instant” + easy  + shortest version =in fewest words available.

    Blame the poor reader and disinterested news seeker, not the paper medias.
    It may be more expensive to buy, charge, pay fees on line than print subscriptions sometimes.   And reading on line is not easier, except when enlarging font size, because those intrusive ads are ‘accidentally’ touched, and reader is relocated to an unwanted site that collects their data too.

    There is the radio, an easily free accessible medium, often useful while driving or even walking with earphones or doing home chores too. An easy to listen and less obstrusive version of news than internet ad disruptions.

    TV is mostly commercialed time but then those plopped to ‘watch’ pictures enlarged to elicit more emotional reactions is costly too if one pays for channel access, but internet videos are so ltd and abbreviated, the effect is not the same. 

    Then many claim they Must Work at a job or career so many hours they can only tolerate abbreviated – thus distorted and headline-misleading- news that implies what is not factual in reporting stories or more accurate fact versions.

    what to do ?  Check out different versions [ in what time a person Cares about devoting ] to know what is current, dangerous, political, or even entertaining-only.  Or just access any slants already chosen and avoid any that dissent. Easy. Most of these media sources are accessible, even to the ‘poor’ and even the ‘homeless’. I know. I meet them often. 

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