Saturday, February 21, 2009

Broken media

Look before we disappear
Toronto, ON, January 2009
About this photo: All week long, Thematic Photographic shares "busted" photos. Got one in mind that you'd like to toss into the fray? Head over here to get started.
Deep in the shadows of a downtown sidewalk, I found myself standing beside these cheerfully colorful newspaper boxes and thinking about the plight of paper-based media in an increasingly online world. I didn't mean to get existential in the middle of an otherwise busy work day far from home, but some issues have a habit of invading my space when I least expect them to.

My wife and I are debating the merits of keeping our newspaper subscription. She insists on sticking with the paper version, as nothing else fits the kitchen table and morning routine. I'm willing to give on that point, as reading the paper on my laptop in between a glass of juice, a mug of tea and three squirming children just doesn't seem to work.

But as I fill the recycling box every week before washing the smeared ink off of my hands, I wonder about the logistics required to get said papers to my door before dawn every day. I wonder about what I should be doing to reduce my consumption of trees. I wonder if it's worth giving up a little convenience to be a little greener.

Oh yes, and the online subscription is five bucks a month, about two-thirds off the regular subscription price. I'm cheap, too.

Your turn: Do you subscribe to a newspaper? Why/why not? And, yes, my wife will read your comment :)


mw said...

I started reading usenet in the 80's, and soon after stopped subscribing to newspapers. About the time the internet became viable, I canceled all my magazine subscriptions. I find the single point of view reporting in newspapers doesn't fill my need, whereas the endless variety of viewpoints on the internet does. I also don't care for the monumental waste of printing newspapers and magazines. I will admit to not being able to give up books, a love I suspect I will always have, though maybe something like a kindle may come to substitute someday.

An interesting topic, Carmi. I love the photo and description of the paper vending machines....

Here from Tanya

Glennis said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Whoops!! I should have said "his" blog, not "hers" !!!!!


Mojo said...

Heh. What an ironic twist. Back in 1998 a coupla guys decided that with hockey being the "next big thing" in this area, a magazine devoted to all things hockey in our fair state might be a great move. And it might have been -- if we'd been as good at selling said magazine as we were at producing it. Or if we'd had the initial capital to float it until it could become self-sustaining.

Alas, neither of these things were in the cards and after 9 months, NC StormFront Magazine went... (wait for it) bust. But in the meantime I got to do some uber cool things that I could not have done otherwise. Like go to the 1998 NHL Entry Draft with full-on media creds (where I met the Mahatma Guru of hockey photography Bruce Bennet himself. Oh, and there were some pretty good hockey players there too.)

I haven't had a newspaper subscription in ... more years than I can count. One day I suddenly looked at the pile of newspapers sitting in the recycle bin with the rubber bands still on the. And I realized that I was not just killing trees for no good reason, I was wasting money as well. Which at that time I had even less business doing than I do now.

I will confess however that I will buy single copies when a story that's important to me is Page One above the fold. "It's Ours" -- the lead headline when the Canes won the Stanley Cup -- has so much more impact (and scrapbook value) when it's in ink at 250 points or so. But normally, I'll grab my news off the online news outlets. As MW quite rightly points out, there is a lot of value in reading the news from several different points of view. So even with the relative green-ness issue excluded from consideration, there's still the issue of overcoming media bias (Wait. What? The media isn't impartial? Shocking!)

Ultimately, print media will go the way of film photography. Books will hold their own, but periodicals and newspapers I think are living on borrowed time. My generation may still hold onto print, but in another generation or two?

Anyway... on another topic entirely, somebody just had to take this tack with the "Busted" theme eventually. Might as well be me.
Thematic Photographic 37: "Busted" v.2.0 "Just Wasn't In The Cards"

Cloudia said...

I love clipping, folding, underlining . . . . .Aloha-

Pamela said...

yes. I've been thinking about canceling it. But, the paper boy who delivers is such a sweetie and he needs the job.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

I have never bought a newspaper subscription. My missus brings the NY Times home from her office at end of day, which is useful because that is when I have time to look at it.
I doubt I would ever pay for a newspaper because, well, ahem, I don't have the money, and as I heard on the radio the other day "I am the youtube generation and believe in getting these things free".
I was reading recently that newspapers are in terrible trouble and can't figure out the next step, BUT one place they are making a mistake is thinking they are in the print business, when actually they are in the news business. Take it from there, if you can....

bobbie said...

I do read papers on line, but prefer to hold them in my hand, smeared ink or not. I subscribe only to a local weekly paper. Others from Phila, or Atlantic City, are really not very good about delivery and/or billing, so I follow those on line. And yes, it does concern me that paper, gas, etc. is used to bring them to my door

My Busted endtry is up.

Jinksy said...

Never been a newspaper fan - except maybe doing somebody else's crosword! News on the radio or TV is enough to digest occasionally, without adding to a paper mountain with daily papers. Sorry, Wife! x

Nikki - Notes of Life said...

We get our local evening newspaper delivered. They do have a website, but only a small percentage of the newspaper is on the website.

I like supporting the local newspaper boy as I used to do the job in my teens and it gave me some pocket money that I would otherwise not have had.

anita said...

nope...always felt that newspapers and phone books were wasteful things once the internet hit.

i do buy magazines for their daydream capabilities...but i recycle mine to the free stand at library.

Zuzana said...

I do not subscribe to a newspaper for many reasons; two major ones are: I have no time to read the paper in the mornings and I can easily pick up a "free" newspaper at work, such as "Metro".

In Denmark there is an option of putting a "sticker" on your mailbox which will state that you do not wish to receive any commercials as well. This way my consumption (and waste) of paper is reduced totally to 0.
I can read all he commercials online if I wish.

Still, the "sentimental me" likes to read the Danish "Sunday Journal" once in while every Sunday with my late breakfast. Born and growing up before the Internet age, I feel I have found a good compromise as old habits are hard to break.;)

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog, and I like it very much.
No, I don't subscribe to "paper" newspapers. I have a bit of an eye problem that makes the font too small for me to read. Not to mention all the ink on the hands! :-) Plus I am like you, and think about all the trees it takes and all the gas consumption to get the paper to me.
I really like getting my news online. I use the laptop, phone, pda, and Kindle.
The convenience of technology far outweighs the nostalgia of an old-fashioned paper.

Unknown said...

No, I don't. When I was in the news business, of course I took three papers. But only on Sundays do I bother. You are correct that online is the future. However, I feel news print will be around too. Great post as always, Carmi!

Anonymous said...

I gave up getting the news in print a few years ago. It just doesn't seem worth it anymore. There is so much waste in print media.

I think the internet has had a profound effect on our lives. From shopping to communicating and even how we work and go to school. You can even grocery shop on line and either go pick up your weekly shopping already bagged and ready to go or have it delivered right to your door. It is a new era and it seems nearly everyone is getting into the act.

NJ said...

Yes I do subscribe to the local daily newspaper. I don't read it as much as I used too and for that reason I should consider suspending my suscription. I do feel somewhat guilty in this economy though of contributing to someone else's unemployment.

Anonymous said...

The printed word has a gravitas that does not translate to the screen. Being able to hold the words in your hands makes it tangible in the way that is the difference between reading a story and watching a movie.
One makes you a participant, and one makes you an observer.
On a more serious note the only thing that keeps a government honest is the ability of a free and open press to hold the State accountable. Once it is in a hard published form it is difficult to control. A website can always be blocked ( currently happening to the opposition party in Iran) or changed without regard to veracity (any entry on Wickapedia.)
I am somewhat surprised that you, Carmi, as a journalist, would be readily willing to abrogate that responsibility to others.

Bradley B
London On

Thumper said...

We get a couple of papers. One for the local news in our tiny little town (only comes out 3 times a week) and one from the major city just north of here. I'd like to say it's a keen interest in the news, but really, I get it for the comics.

Anonymous said...

My husband has a gift subscription to Backyard Gardening magazine.

We receive 4 community newspapers, all free. One leans way to one side of the local political spectrum, one leans the opposite direction. And luckily, two simply report the news and keep editorial opinions on the editorial page. I have to read all 4 to understand what is really happening in our part of the county.

We don't subscribe to a big newspaper because so much news is depressing (bad news sells, I guess. I'm a cover-to-cover reader and I just don't have the time for the Washington Post!

I'm told that a layer of newspapers under a fresh layer of mulch will keep the weeds down in your garden...

Star said...

We no longer get a daily paper. It comes in the am and we don't get a chance to read it until after dinner. By then the news is old and we have read it online . We still get the weekend edition . Nubby gets to feel the newsprint and I get the NY Times crossword .

Michael K. Althouse said...

My apologies -

Tanya sent me to visit you some time ago and I got side-tracked.

I'm keeping my subscription to the Sac Bee as long as they're still delivering it. Call me nostalgic, but I like the ink on my fingers and the sound and smell of a real newspaper. I use electronic media as well, but I'm keeping my paper - for now.


Anonymous said...

Hey Carmi! Great as always, to see you playing the MEET n' GREET -- This is a great question...

I can't wait for this: to become mainstream. I'd love something physical to view at my (currently absent) kitchen table in the mornings with my coffee, and a thin ebook reader that is somewhat large profile would be just the solution!

In the meantime? I've stopped the National Post, and get the Vanc. Sun electronically for now.

carmilevy said...

Bradley: My intent in sharing this was to illustrate the inevitable end of paper-based distribution of content...not the imminent death of the media organizations currently engaged in said activity.

Indeed, my whole thesis is that newspapers aren't - or shouldn't be - in the newspaper business at all. The value-add lies not in killing trees, then trucking them across town. They should be getting out of that as fast as humanly possible so they can put money into the thing that sets themselves apart: the collection, aggregation and pursuit of the journalistic art.

Freed of the massive fixed and variable overhead of print/distribution, media organizations can free themselves to pursue true journalistic excellence. Until they move to this more efficient distribution mechanism, they'll continue to operate with an albatross around their neck.

So, long story short, as a journalist, I see this as an entire industry's salvation, and the guarantor of a free and just press. Hope that clarifies things.

Anonymous said...

They got to you, didn't they?
Was it threats, bribery? Did they offer you the editorship of a web-paper ?
Do not fall prey to their machinations. Their goal is to eliminate print and broadcast media until the only information is via the internet which they control. Join the resistance and use your jounalistic power to peel back the mask of corporate and government rule and expose the lizard-people underneath the skin.
They are here ! Banging at my door ! I dont have much time, I am done for , it is up to you.
Camera behind Bradley showing him typing at computer.
Loud noises off camera. Camera closes in on screen. As Bradley types last word and hits send, Loud crash and gunfire.
Blood and brain matter hit computer screen.
Cut to:
Group of figures crash through door firing weapons, all dressed in black, faces obscured by hemets and dark visors.
Camera tightens on visor and shows reflection of Bradley dead in front of computer. Camera pulls back to reveal lizard tongue darting from beneath visor.
Camera pulls back to show group, all of which have lizard tongues.
Cut to :
( whole scene is homage to Clint Eastwood in the good, the bad and the ugly. Theme song starts softly and builds in volume through scene)

Camera behind Carmi showing him reading Bradleys last message.
Camera showing Carmi in rear profile get up and walk over to bookcase.
Carmi opens bookcase to reveal wall of weaponry.
Carmi puts bandolero of shotgun shells acroos torso, then another, criss-cross. Then straps on gunbelt and picks up sawed off shotgun and places it in right holster, Does the same with left holster. reaches out to carved wooden box sitting on table.
Camera pan and close up to :

Carmi opening box and picking up cigar, slowly ( slow speed frame)
lighting match puts match to cigar and lights.
Carmi turns to camera ( Zoom in )
Dialogue :
Carmi : "Here, lizard, lizard, lizard."

Fade to black, cut to commercial.

Will Carmi find the lizard people?
Will the millions in his bank account from the mysterious source be revealed?
Will the scantily clad Angelina Jolie seduce him for information?
Find out after the commercial break !
Bradley B.

Mojo said...

Bradley cracks me up.

Lizard people... I remember that mini-series.