Though it doesn’t seem like that long ago, it’s been more than ten years since I was an avid reader of newspapers. My preferred edition was the Detroit Free Press, a left-leaning daily that had a killer Sunday issue. It landed with an audible thump on your porch and it would take hours to get through it all, even if you skipped the classifieds and the weekly magazines that were all part of this great big sloppy joe of a paper. Even the comics took more than a few minutes to read.
The Joint Operating Agreement (approved by Reagan’s Secretary of State Edwin Meese in 1988), was supposed to save both the Free Press and Detroit’s other major daily, the News. The two powers, along with several smaller news outlets, had brawled for decades for supremacy in print journalism, but ultimately couldn’t compete with the televised 24-hour news cycle being offered by numerous cable outlets. Both are shadows of their former selves today, having long ago shed the expensive writers and syndicates in favor of reader polls and mommy blogs. Where I was once able to pick up the Sunday Comment section and revel in the political rumblings of Mike Royko, George Will, Cal Thomas and Molly Ivins, I now see boiler plate sentiments and a desire to avoid offending or informing anyone.
When I quit taking a daily newspaper, I didn’t think I would miss much. After all, there’s news on-line, right? I figured, even if Huffington Post is left-leaning, I could still get a balanced slate of contributions on a platform like Yahoo! or MSN...I have been dissuaded from that notion.
I’m embarrassed it took as long as it did, but they have clearly been feeding me what I wanted to see. The more I clicked on liberal politics, the more liberal posts they sent me. If I clicked on stories about an upcoming wrestling pay-per-view, I was rewarded with psychological analyses on the differences between Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. I could’ve blame the on-line community if I wanted to, but being a failed Pentecostal, I decided to blame myself. Can I get an ‘Amen’?
The date is March 10, 2017. In the first fifteen stories on my Yahoo feed, I have a reminder for daylight savings time (top story!), a political boast about some shit the current administration had NOTHING to do with, and a follow-up on the lurid murder of a child. The sixteenth story was about how Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has begun riding a bicycle and doesn’t care for the spandex shorts. In other words, a slow news day. Right?
I bought a couple of newspapers and read them both. Even the business sections, which I never did before. While I was sleeping, this is what happened, what was reported, and what you and I might have missed otherwise…
-N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a comprehensive $1.4 billion plan to attack the crime, unemployment and obesity in urban Brooklyn. It is speculated that this is a baby step in the direction of seeking the presidency in 2020.
-A warm February like the one we are experiencing is about four times more likely than it would have been in 1900.
-Dolley Madison saved a portrait of George Washington before the White House was burned down in the War of 1812.
-Career fields with a majority of men pay 21% more than those with mostly women.
-Wild life continues to thrive in the area of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Wild boar, a delicacy in Japan, are being slaughtered by the hundreds, but are inedible because of radioactivity. Though Japan hopes to move people back into Fukushima, the boars have apparently moved into houses and lost their fear of humans. Chernobyl, in the aftermath of their nuclear accident in 1986, is overrun with moose, deer, brown bears, lynx and wolves.
-31 girls died in a fire at a home for abused children in Guatemala. An investigation is underway.
-Because of repeated provocations by North Korea, South Korea is amping up their defense with U.S. weaponry. Because China sees these weapons pointed in their direction, a wave of anti-South Korean sentiment has broken out among its citizenry.
-In Turkey, it is suspected that Fethullah Gulen, currently living in Pennsylvania, was the mastermind behind last July’s failed coup. Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, stated, “I can can clearly say that whatever Osama bin Laden means for American citizens, Fethullah Gulen means for the Turkish people.”
-There is a new movement afoot, started in Texas of all places, against unfair bail for arrested persons. It appears we are setting bail for people accused of misdemeanors according to an old formula regardless of their ability to pay, keeping them in jail for offenses that likely wouldn’t result in jail time. Example: A man accused of illegally sleeping under a bridge is assessed a $5,000 bond.
-Mothers of stillborns are being asked by doctors and scientists to allow their fetus to be autopsied. Though there are no ‘cures’ per se, they would be able to counsel an expectant mother about tests she may want to take to determine the viability of her pregnancy.
-RE: American Health Care Act “We’re on the hook this time. This one counts.” Dave Brat (R) Virginia
-David Brooks believes that the newly proposed health care act will result in “the end of what’s left of the Reagan-era party” because there are some problems that can’t be fixed by tax cuts.
-Facebook executives, when asked about sexualized images of children on their site, demanded examples from a BBC reporter. When provided with them, they turned the images over to the police, causing the reporter, Angus Crawford, to be jailed.
-Between 2008 and 2015, General Electric and Procter Gamble paid no taxes. In fact, both received rebates.
-Sally Field is on Broadway, playing Amanda in ‘The Glass Menagerie’. Though she got raves in 2004 playing the same role at the Kennedy Center, the new production is mired with a director that was determined to re-imagine the play and the outlook is poor.
-Researchers at Britain Library have posited the theory that Jane Austen, who died 200 years ago, was killed by arsenic. It is isn’t necessarily a murder mystery, as arsenic was present during that era in water, medication and even wallpaper.
-The head of Flint’s water pipe project anticipates the work being done in 2019.
-Jesus Acosta, 17, of Tuscon, Arizona has been missing since September 1st.
I could have just gone with whatever popped up on my screen this morning. There’s nothing easier than going with the flow, being one of the gang, going along to get along. I’m not sure today is that time. I have friends worried about their draft-aged children, others concerned about immigrant relatives. I know folks concerned about going into ethnic neighborhoods and others worried about who uses their bathrooms. I’m concerned about all of us marching towards an uncertain goal, not at all clear about what we’re after, or even where we’re headed. If we are searching for the answers in on-line news, I believe we will be disappointed and only half-informed, if that.
It was a slow news day today…but I’m not sure I’ll sleep tonight.