The Times-Picayune of New Orleans will be going to a three day per week print publication. It’s caused a stir. Electronic media and instant news presentation and publication have gone from the reality of an evolutionary progression to a question as to whether there is a possibility of intelligent design being mismanaged.
One of my favorite (meaning one of the BEST) publishers is a major Blogger noted by the Washington Post as one of the best in the country and arguably the best in Louisiana. Along with Canada Free Press and a couple of other publishers orbiting the ethereal universe we call the Internet, my humble offerings manage to be read by a couple of million people monthly.
Not bad for a native son in a medium not requiring exceptional amounts of paper and ink as I once did when I started trying to be a writer. I’ve been doing this (writing) since I was in the fifth grade. I’m sixty years old now. I’ll keep doing it until I get it right.
But the differences between the electronic media and print publication are unbelievable; and not necessarily all are for the good of the audience.
My first introduction to electronic media was a place few people would think to have an impact. It was the tele-crawl used by print newspapers to flash the latest news to the pedestrians walking on the street in major cities. It was most prevalently seen in old, film noir murder mysteries and would walk along the length of the building, boldly lit and accented to get people’s attention.
“EXTRA! PEARL HARBOR ATTACKED! EXTRA! WAR DECLARED! EXTRA!
This is the manner the news was “punched –up” to get people’s attention. It was fast. It was sparse in details and barren of content. You ran to the corner news dealer and got the rest of the story in the pages of the printed newspaper. It was the way it was. And I’m not sure it’s not the way it’s supposed to be overall.
Computers are the present more than the future. But, I fear there’s a detachment from the person reporting the news. You feel nothing, for the most part, concerning the plastic wonder putting words hypnotically into place so you can make a minor mistake and erase the entire effort with practically NO hope of recovery. The virtual nature of the beast is an illusion of its compactness. You create files to store what you want to keep and erase what you don’t.
I’m a bit of a romantic clinging to the safety of yesterday because let’s face it; we survived today and yesterday. Tomorrow is the next adventure.
A print newspaper is a substantial exemplar of the character of a city or town. It has physical presence, weight and impact on your senses. It has a feeling and an actual scent to it. That sense of scent supplies an unexpected correlation to the taste of ideas we seek when we try understanding what’s going on in the world.
Newspapers are a connection between the writer/reporter and the reader. The heart of one reaches out to connect with the other. The mind of one wants a connection with the thought process of the other. The paper gives a sense of permanence concerning that connection. You come to feel as though you’re a part of something bigger than yourself.
The superficiality of television has desensitized us to reality. We see death and destruction depicted virtually, without the horror human imagination supplies to the equation and we, as humans, are losing sensitivity to our relationships with others. We see so much it no longer has an impact.
To give a final example, one of my editors at a large e-publishing operation was a 16 year old kid responsible only to enter the data into a computer generated hole whether it had pertinence to the audience or not.
The entire situation may have the effect of cutting costs by a specific percentage but it also removes the human interaction from the equation.
And there’s been too much neglect of human interaction to date. We need an emotional touch, not just key-strokes.
Thanks for listening.