September 08, 2007

No One Reads Newspapers Anymore…

I got a short letter to the public editor published (under my real name) in last Sunday's New York Times and no one noticed. Humph.

But that doesn't surprise me at all — who really reads newspapers anymore? Who even skims them? For years now my main sources of news have been online (I mostly use Google's news aggregator), and my subscription to the paper version of the NYT is mostly for reading in the Milano over weekend breakfasts, or late at night, long after the front page became yesterday's news (I've been subscribing pretty much as long as it's possible to have been a subscriber in Northern California; I read the analysis and longer background articles only, and maybe try to keep up with the local news from New York). Long before the web (from the early 1980's up until about 2000), my main source of science and technology news and gossip (and, oddly, classical music theory and criticism) had been Usenet, now just a backwater of spam and endless flamewars (I keep thinking of those mythical rivers that caught fire due to the amount of toxic waste dumped into them). So I don't really read coherently (or otherwise) edited newspapers (in print or on the net) so much as I read a melange of articles from disparate sources; the little pictures don't always quite cohere as a Big Picture.

Unlike a lot of people I know, I'm just not nostalgic for newspapers as such, though — I don't think I'd mourn the passing of the print edition of the NYT at all, as long as I had something a little less irritating than my laptop to read the online version with while on BART or sitting at a cramped table in Berkeley, or lounging around in my studio. It'll happen; and sooner rather than later, I hope. And then I'll be able to complain crankily that no one reads at all, any more.

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At 9/09/2007 4:00 pm, Blogger Angela Natividad said...

You know what I'm really afraid of, Jimmy? The death of the book. I can't feel sorry about newspapers but there remains something about the word on paper that's just lost on a screen.

At 9/09/2007 6:45 pm, Blogger Jimmy Little said...

Yeah, books have a usability and an aesthetic and tactile appeal that's special in ways that magazines and newspapers aren't, and I'd really hate to see boooks die off. I never felt this way about LPs or CDs or film or typewriters or airplane instruments or much else that's been superceded, but — so far, at least — there's nothing that matches a book for me. And what would I do with all those books on my shelves?!


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