On occasion I have noted people canceling their newspaper subscriptions because they are angry about the contents of the editorial pages – angry that something, be it a column, political cartoonist or even a letter to the editor, has expressed a view different from their own. Like the angry folks who yell incoherently at the television set when something comes on that they they don’t care for, these Lost Souls haven’t quite figured out that if they come across something they don’t like, well, they don’t have to read it, skipping instead to something else.
For the most part, they aren’t angry about the actual news in the paper, which makes their ire all the more puzzling. They understand the sports pages, and even the comics pages, though occasionally the mere existence of certain cartoons can drive them to distraction. And no, “Doonesbury” ain’t the the cause for their complaints. It is usually some small cartoon, hidden amongst all the other comics, which infuriates them.
There are occasional complaints about the news, but these usually follow the mass herd talking points of the week – lots of complaints but little understanding.
Which brings me to my main thesis; we have journalism classes for those who wish to pursue a career in the field, but none for those who simply read and understand the newspaper.
Yes, Sacrificial Reader, I am talking about a class on how to read a newspaper.
Yeah, I know: How patronizing! How elitist!
But I think the need for such a class is borne out by a simple glance online on any given day. How many times have you tried to explain the difference between an opinion piece or a news article to someone about to set their hair on fire over something they have encountered in the newspaper?
Business News – which I suspect that most people sort of skip, which is why economic trends tend to take them by such surprise.
Sports – I’ve known all too many folks who buy the paper for this section alone.
Entertainment – movie/TV reviews, comics, puzzles
The Editorial pages – the one section where rationality is thrown to winds, and those dulled by rage shake their fists at the newspaper. How dare they print cartoons which mock our particular sacred cows? Why can’t religious letters all be confined to the religious pages, why, oh why, must they be exposed to views decent people would never, ever, express?
As Charlton Heston cried aloud in Planet of the Apes, “It’s a madhouse!”
We took basic economics in high school. We studied great literature, art, history and studied our system of government.
We took Shop class (or industrial arts, if you will), music, gym class.
I think we have reached a point where a basic class on understanding both the news and how it is presented is more than called for at this juncture in our nation’s history.
I wouldn’t tell the person who works on our plumbing how to do their job, or an electrician. If you are smart, you don’t, either.
Yet we have scads of people – folks who have never written anything more difficult than a Facebook meme – who would profess to be experts on journalism, and what should and should not be done.
Journalism needs its critics, but they should be informed critics, and not just people repeating something they read online, usually from a source which is also ignorant of how news makes its way to us.
Listening to Catherine Reed today, and her CD ‘Can You See It.”
Now on YouTube – The Interview: Richard S. Drake and C. F. Roberts
Dan Robinson sits down with yours truly and C.F. Roberts to discuss my favorite TV show, “On the Air with Richard S. Drake.”
Quote of the Day
Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength. – Eric Hoffer