Another copy of The Nation arrived the other day, to join the collection of unread weeklies piling up in my office--the piles that make me feel disloyal to print and newsprint because I now read mostly online.
But this particular issue, I actually opened. The reason? An article by Alexander Cockburn entitled, "Who Needs Yesterday's Papers?"
I was hoping to find a compelling reason to plunge back into the piles of print media in my office. Failing that, I hoped for some new thinking on what we do for information and news once The New York Times goes bankrupt--or changes so radically, or has to charge so much to survive, that it destroys its own franchise.
NO LOSS? REALLY?
But Cockburn was more interested in advancing a correct but unhelpful observation: that the timid U.S. press is mostly failing in its duty to oppress the comfortable and comfort the oppressed. So its loss is no loss at all.
He's certainly right about the timidity of the press, which won't be around to keep failing in its duty much longer.
The issue of What Now? has taken on greater urgency since I've finally given up the good fight. The one where I assert, contrary to all the evidence, that I'm actually, finally going to read those newspapers and journals and lefty quarterlies gathering dust on my worktable.
I'm not. And it feels good to admit it. But not that good. I still want to know what we'll do when there's no New York Times to kick around.
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Addendum: Most of the periodicals I subscribe to are hanging on but need every subscriber in order to survive. I'm not giving up my subscriptions; I'll just switch to their online editions. That's how I now read the Times, but for how much longer?
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I owe Staten Island Advance reporter Tevah Platt a debt of gratitude. Two weeks ago, in a north shore section profile of Walking is Transportation, she observed what I hadn't; namely, that my blog isn't very bloggy. And after sampling a reasonable number of sites using various types of blogging software, I have to agree.
What I seem to be producing here each day is a journal of opinion grounded in a very particular place and time. Maybe 'neighborhood journal' is the most accurate descriptor. But the subject is not St. George per se; it's whatever compels my attention.
--The copy style reflects my training at a newspaper syndicate and a trade book house.
--The layout and text organization--plain and I hope readable--are influenced by the editorial style of print advertising I was trained in at Ogilvy & Mather, where I worked as a copywriter.
--The attempt to create a distinctive and harmonious personality through graphics, visuals and text I learned from my work as a writer on corporate identity and branding assignments.
The result, Walking is Transportation, feels to me like something you'd slap on a brick wall for mass consumption, but only for 24 hours. Tomorrow, that day's issue would get slapped over today's. Like this one.
Nomenclature. I think of my posts not as posts at all, but as issues. And that's the word I'll use when referring to them from now on.