Sunday, December 07, 2014


Weighing the news

by Larry Geller

Protests continue to sweep the country. Here’s what you missed because the newspaper didn’t cover it

I sat down with Twitter and the breaking news app on my phone yesterday evening. Here’s what I discovered. There could be more that I’ve missed with this simplistic methodology.

Los Angele: Chinese Theatre, die in; remarks that the movement there is growing

Hollywood: candle vigil

Berkeley, CA: BART shut down, tear gas reported, violence, smashing of windows, cops shoot bean-bags at a dog prompting chant of “Paws up, don’t shoot!”

Oakland, CA: protesters throwing stuff at police

Riverside, CA

New York: Disney Store flash mob, Grand Central Station choke in, actons at Toys R Us, Forever21, Times Square. At a fashion show at the Brooklyn Museum, models carried #BlackLivesMatter signs, Pink House (site of recent cop shooting) march

Tallahassee, FL

Tampa, FL: die in

West Palm Beach, FL

Jacksonville, FL: disrupt mayor’s holiday event

Portland, OR: demonstration at a mall

Boston, Mass: tweet says the city was “shut down” in a massive disply

Philadelphia, PA: only 12 people, but they “took the street”, die in

Davidson, NC: die in

Asheville, NC: die in

Seattle, WA: two protests

Detroit, MN: march, die in

Milwaukee, WS

Washington, DC: police are accused of provoking escalation through assaults on protesters

Anchorage, Alaska

Chicago, IL

Atlanta GA:

Tokyo, Japan

Athens Greece

Paris, France

Each year at this time I debate whether to renew my newspaper subscription, since our subscription is about to expire. I think: am I getting my money’s worth? And after all, we do live in a digital age… how does the digital “alternative” compare this year?

Today’s paper weighs 2.39 pounds as measured by my cheap imported hanging scale.

Of that, 1.49 pounds are ads that can be separated out.

That leaves 0.9 pounds for the news and on-page ads.

My Samsung tablet weighs 1.16 pounds on the same cheap scale, and it is full of news, ebooks, breaking news that the newspaper may never carry, and tweets that the editors ignore.

Even my little smartphone has better access to national and world news Of course, these devices are not too strong on local news.

Ultimately, 2.39 pounds will be added to the recycle bin except for the non-recyclable color ads.

But if I didn’t renew, I would miss David Shapiro’s column, the comics page, and above all, I would lose the news that is put before me, that I would not likely search out and find on the web even if it were there. Newspaper editors are news aggregators, to use a non-traditional term.

Inevitably, we talk and choose to renew.

So I wish the Star-Advertiser did a better job, as long as I’m going to pay them for another year.

To return to the example du jour, daily protests against US police brutality and targeting of black men and teenagers continue around the country and at some places overseas. Yet our one daily newspaper continues to ignore them. This will not make them go away, which might please their editors’ political views, it will just keep readers uninformed.

The web, also, can present information that the reader doesn’t seek out. On the subject of gun violence, for example, did you know that two three-year-olds shot and killed adults in Oklahoma within the past two weeks? I wonder if the NRA will insist that guns don’t kill people, three-year olds do.

At least, putting web and print news  together, there can be a more complete picture. I’ll also keep reading the Guardian USA edition, a bit of the New York Times, and an assortment of websites that together fill the information gap.

Still, imagine, failing every day.Yet, no doubt they are not alone. Such is the state of print journalism today.

So my check will be in the mail.


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