Monday, June 11, 2012

T-P demise, reported decades too late

I guess I'll weigh in one more time on the loss of the only daily newspaper and as lagniappe, link you to past T-P columnist Lolis Eric Elie's thoughts at the end of this. Maybe one of us will say something that is useful to frame your own thoughts.
Let me start with:
I am unmoved by the Save the T-P campaign.
I feel about the Times Picayune like I do about fancy new condo developments in the CBD. I see them as unnecessary, having little community value and full of people that I have very little in common with. I will pick up the paper now and then when I see a copy left somewhere and after a minute or two, think "what is the point?" as I toss it aside.
I used to read a daily paper quite thoroughly and found much of my information in them. I remember the States-Item too and the pleasure of an afternoon paper (and the Cleveland Press, the afternoon paper in my other hometown) and now it seems having competition probably did much to drive good reporting and content. It seems that way because once the afternoon paper was gone and a few corporations would then go on to own most of the established media outlets, the quality suffered. Well, I say that we once had high quality, but I bet if I looked back on the social movements of the last 40 years, I would find timely, accurate information either blatantly ignored by the newspapers of the time, or reported with a bias against their true activities. So, maybe the fire sale started long ago.
That the quality and content would start to suffer precipitously in a time when events were happening more quickly than ever and with people watching 24/7 outlets for many varieties of news and culture updates seems incongruous. Meaning, I don't believe that the lack of good daily papers has anything to do with people not wanting news. Rather it seems to be directly related to the corporations not wanting us to have news.
To follow that reasoning, that we are watching the decline of the daily in a time of widespread political do-nothingness and corporate greed at a level never before seen seems to me to be quite closely connected. And that it seems to me that having a corporate-controlled single media outlet is worse than having nothing at all. Why? Because once we have a true vacuum of daily information, something will fill it. And it is my experience that in New Orleans entrepreneurs are ready and available to add their talents to any need they find. And that here, in New Orleans, it doesn't take a bunch of connected young white guys and a fancy office to make something real and useful to a wide group of people; ragtag corner journalism with broadsheets tacked to poles and hand printed rolls would do just fine for us.
Those who are finally decrying the loss of "news" remind me of contented sheep in a field munching away while the neighboring fields burn. What news are you getting from the collection of AP stories and retreads of non-stories? When a good writer is used at the T-P, their stories seem hacked, rushed and pointedly non-committal, showing the ruthless editorial control waged by corporate media today. I need to know WHY and to have any other information that might help me understand this development for me to act as a citizen and either stop or spread it next time. If details and facts are omitted, I cannot be a fully engaged citizen. Crime waves that police know are connected to a specific group or people, or politicians using influence in a way known to city hall or state legislature insiders but not spelled out in stories don't help.
I get it- we like our daily, weekly, monthly and annual routines and traditions in our old city. I do too. But colonial traditions be damned; I say let's wake up and dump it in the past like we did other some of those other "traditions" that we finally realized were holding us down by the neck.
I don't know what form the new news will take. I do not believe that it (or hopefully a plural, they) will closely resemble either the paper thrown on your doorstep or the electronic media on your desktop. However, I think it will take useful characteristics from both and if we do it right, it will be controlled by us and we will never let corporations take it from us again.
Lolis Elie story

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