America, We Have A Problem…

Our classic news sources are being emasculated by the general ‘dumbing down’ of articles by editors who apparently fear we’re too ignorant to handle the 100-proof stuff and reach our own conclusions, and the acquisition bent now that threatens to diminish media ownership to a handful of national corporate entities further homogenizing the output.

This theme occurred to me as I read a local newspaper (the Washington County Post) which included an article explaining the importance of local newspapers, which coincidentally I received as an insert in what used to be an independent newspaper (the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) before putting itself up for sale, since it saw the writing-on-the-wall and accepted a USA Today takeover offer.  I now receive a morning newspaper but it does not even get close to what my morning newspaper used to be, and I will be moving to the web-based product offered by that entity even though that will leave me with a morning tactile deficit.  The idea of finishing a newspaper without having ink on my fingers will take some adjusting for me.  (It isn’t easy getting old as one of my elders told me many years ago I’d come to understand.)

Pre-digested news isn’t really like raw news;  it can be compared to good old-fashioned home cooking and the difference between that and a Kwik Trip meal, for those of you in Wisconsin who know what a Kwik-Trip is, and by the way, their food is tasty even if not from a broad menu.  Pre-digested news is what we get after corporate edicts (sometimes seemingly politically-driven but I am a bit warped in that area) and editors’ cuts and changes have occurred.  We take it as gospel, but we have no real way of knowing just what ‘gospel’ is anymore unless we are news junkies who seek out every possible source personally.

For example, Fox News has a different take on what constitutes acceptable news for its viewers as compared to CNN.  We find that very evident if we flash back to political ‘debates’, which are anything but debates in the formal sense but I digress, aired by  an ‘old-fashioned’ broadcast networks (ABC, NBC or CBS for example) versus that presented by one of the new breed networks.

There is continuing further diminution of ‘news’ through the various web constructs. There was an article today announcing the finalization of the sale of the Huffington Post (created by Arianna Huffington about 12 years ago) which, as an upstart was not given much of a chance of survival.  The Huffington Post, virtually a web-based company, has been purchased by another such entity so that company could broaden its base in its quest to survive.

My tactile trip through the Washington County Post today reminded me of how local merchants and businesses, of all ilks, and people wanting to sell something or hire someone, really rely on their local news vehicles.  Those local news vehicles are going away if they’re not already gone.  That also impacts the local Internet-driven entities that often are sponsored by the local print media organization, although the Internet proper fills that void instantly.

We have suffered as the result of progress even though we greatly benefit from much of that same progress.  The loss of local control through the sale of a business to a company located hundreds or thousands of miles away is critical.  The Washington County Post article, titled ‘The benefits of local newspapers’, which may be available somewhere on the Internet, served as a reminder that for all the ‘benefits’ of the Internet, there has been and will continue to be loss of local control and local interaction amongst citizens as the result of that same leap forward in technology.

This probably happened back in the stone age, too, but I am not old enough to have had firsthand experience with those changes despite what some of my friends, at least those I have yet to offend, might think.

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