The End Won’t Be Televised…Or Reported

In January, the New Yorker ran an article focusing on one of the (many) issues that keep me awake at night–the disappearance of local news media.The title was: “What Happens When the News is Gone?”

I’ve shared the statistics before, and they’re grim–and getting grimmer. Last Tuesday, Axios  reported 155 layoffs at Vice, 80 at Quartz, 90 at the Economist, and 100 at Condé Nast , with furloughs at others. And that’s just at national publications, which continue to be comparatively healthy.

Cities and towns, however, continue to bleed the sources of information that are absolutely essential to local self-governance and the sense of community. The linked article begins with an anecdote that is all too telling: at a public meeting in the small town of Pollocksville, North Carolina, the subject was a proposed flood-damage ordinance. The mayor asked if anyone in the audience would like to comment on it.

Alice Strayhorn, a hairdresser in her late sixties who has lived in Pollocksville most of her adult life, raised her hand. “This flood-damage-prevention order,” she said. “How are we supposed to know about that? You can’t make a comment on something you don’t know about.”

Pollocksville’s newspaper was one of the estimated 25% of newspapers America has lost in the past few years, so the mayor had posted a notice in the New Bern Sun Journal, based in a neighboring county. Few people in Pollocksville read it. Surrounding counties with newspapers that do continue to publish–there are three around Pollocksville–are what the article called “ghost papers,” owned by the Gannett Company. Gannett (which also publishes what is left of the Indianapolis Star) controls more than two hundred publications nationwide.

The remainder of the New Yorker article focused upon the consequences of that news desert in Pollocksville, and the various attitudes about that lack of journalism expressed by the locals. (The mayor wasn’t exactly a fan of what we call “investigative journalism,” and tended to dismiss his constituents’ complaints about the difficulty of finding out what local government was doing.)

It would be difficult to overstate the effects of the last quarter-century’s dramatic changes to the way Americans get their information. The ability to occupy “filter bubbles” in which we consume only news that feeds our pre-existing prejudices–and the corresponding lack of trust in outlets reporting things we don’t want to know or believe–is only the most obvious of those consequences. The current media environment increases political polarization, exacerbates class and regional conflicts, and makes negotiation and compromise–essential for workable governance–incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

Those consequences are broadly recognized.

Less well understood is the way that the absence of common sources of information have fractured local communities and eroded the ability of city and town governments to function properly.

The problem isn’t the lack of information, exactly–it’s the fragmented nature of the sources of that information. Bubbles aren’t just an online phenomenon.

In Indianapolis, people who want to know what’s happening in education go to Chalkbeat; people who live downtown access the Urban Times; African-Americans subscribe to the Recorder; businesspeople and professionals read the Indianapolis Business Journal. There are several other specialized sources–papers for various neighborhoods and ethnic groups, websites devoted to the arts, etc. A great deal of information is available–to interested parties willing and able to seek it out.

The effect of this fragmentation– on politics, on government’s ability to communicate effectively with constituents, to any sense of community– is anything but positive.

As I have brooded about this, I’ve come up with an analogy: imagine that you live in a city with roughly equal numbers of citizens speaking fifty different languages, where each language group communicates primarily, if not exclusively, with others in that group, and where a third of the population doesn’t speak at all.

How do you communicate across those barriers? How do you connect to the others with whom you share an urban space?

Even in its heyday, The Indianapolis Star was hardly a symbol of great journalism; if we’re honest, we have to admit it was never a particularly good newspaper. It was, however, far, far better than it is under Gannett (it actually had reporters)–and the mere fact that it provided a common source of information to a significant proportion of the population was incredibly important–more important than most of us understood.

We once occupied a common information environment. Now, we don’t.

We were, as Mayor Bill Hudnut used to say, “citizens of no mean city.” Now, we just occupy adjacent real estate.

 

37 thoughts on “The End Won’t Be Televised…Or Reported

  1. We’re all victims of a horrible “double whammy.” A CROOKED CROSS combined with a CIVIL RIGHTS SCAM that we’re just now seeing the CATASTROPHIC CONSEQUENCES. Hopefully, the rest of the planet might be able to do something about it. Since PROBABLY, it’s too late for us.

    Unlike Vernon, I’ve been working on a non-fiction book entitled: “Something Horrible Has Happened To Planet Earth.”

    Best wishes to all.

  2. Regarding Gannett, Inc., the only conclusion I can reach after reading this blog is that the ultimate goal of Gannett from the beginning of its takeover of primary newspapers across this country was to gradually, deliberately destroy the general public’s source of news. I ended my decades of subscribing to the the Indianapolis Star 18 months ago; I still sorely miss my morning newspaper but do not miss the Indianapolis Star.

    Late last year I read a post on Facebook; an article from Indianapolis Monthly magazine about the racist history in Danville, IN. Not local news per se but I thought maybe the magazine would be a source of vital and timely information about Indianapolis so I subscribed. Here are the cover titles of some issues; Indianapolis Monthly Neighborhood Bars, Made in Indiana, Indy Loves Dogs, Best Restaurants and an extra edition titled Indiana Perfect Escapes. Let’s Par-tay! The magazine is published by Emmis Publishing, LP; I apologize for not researching the company before jumping on here but you get the gist of my message. The end of NUVO’s printed edition ended our source of printed news locally.

    Indianapolis once had THREE daily newspapers; Indianapolis Star and Indianapolis News, both owned by Eugene Pulliam, and the Indianapolis Times.

    “We once occupied a common information environment. Now, we don’t.”

  3. i had a deep discusssion with my wife last night on what i have witnessed over the past few years in talking with fellow workers,and of course the trumpers i talk with.. at 65 i to read the NYT, daily news,newark evening news and news mags time,news week etc. not consumed,i had a volunteer job at the library down on the corner,starting about 9 years old. racial tension was high,newark,nj. was about to change..my sanctuary,that library. there were newspapers from diffrent states,and countries,the first time i seen a paper in hebrew,and arabic,from japan,europe. couldnt read em,but the headline was always there..today,when talking with,say under 30 gen,they dont even know news paper,or its reason why,much less,any news,that directly affects them. im not shocked,but theres a major reason why,social media.( ill refer to it as ear buds.).unless one has been influenced by higher ed in the last few years,most even this group lacks any,immediate awareness. i watch the cars go by, the buses,the plane flights, dinning out,people absorbed in the infinate window,to where? seems with my blue collar group,the sensation of rap,or some influental voice about getting it,(whatever that may be,its not,relevant to ones needs,or their next to gone goverment) those ear buds inserted to gyrate ones mind into oblivion, a soft spot where one floats among the galaxies to utopia. never raising ones head until theres a direct conflict with ones needs,issue,or a slap back to reality dude,dudette.then its beyond fixing,or changing it. we have witnessed in our lifetime,the amazing removal of the few words that bonded people together,now for the sake of profit. overall its regulated by those who sell,dreams. ads,come ons,flashing pictures,and a slick way the commercial comes on from what your watching,as if the dialog,never interupted,just flowed into that commercial. direct t.v.owned by att,surf the genre your looking through,when a commercial pops up,and guess what,the same genre is timed to commercials. 900 stations and nothing to watch eh? and we pay for it.gas station pumps with tvs set to sell ya somethjng while your pumping gas(with no off button),like top 40 radio,more ads. while your purchasing something you can not live without..trapped? the subject here is,news,and why we dont see,newspapers anymore,or,what it means.. the gens under 30 havent a clue,because they have been swept up in a utopia of noise. my talks harvest some strange reactions,i didnt expect,drop jawed looks.
    ill be frank here,as most know here,i talk with trumpers,alot of them,few at a time,or one,NoDak is blood red,as is SoDak. my working areas. when i disxuss items that direct,y affect their fredoms,and whos,really screwing them,as in,right wing politicians and propaganda media such as rush,faux,and other unnews worthy rags,they listen.starved,no, they see the diffrence,between what i come across with,over what they have been listening too,and define my views,over their beliefs. many are asking questions..not a debate,they realize the game,and want to know more, i offer some news sources,the guardian,intercept,commondreams,
    robert reich, the nation,huff,all down on a piece of paper,they are now engaged,how much,at least i have them seeking other,news venues,when i discribe how without a democracy, you have no goverment,and why? the change, and for who? most walk away,looking into that infinate window.. at times theres a sureal way they leave at times to, engaged.. reenlisting the news,and where you find what affects them now,and later,and now they can read why its changed,a little more,who changed it,and why.. did they discover a new foremat to living,no,they were driven away from it,to abid by what corprate America devised,your GD attention,,,now!!! a few words correctly mentioned,and theres a new reader,to look again,and ask questions. we may never save the local paper,but we still can engage in discussion with most anyone,if your knowlege knows,why it disappeared,and from what..social media has become a anonymous face,hiding behind that infinate window,ear buds placed,its as dangerous as a invasion of our country by a larger,more potent army.($) my talks always have the living wage aspects,and why main street dries up.how the people are denied a basic vote today,why it will affect them someday,and who and why,they,(the ones im talking to) allowed it to happen,their own lack of we the people,and we have no goverment of a democracy,without their involvement..its made many that ive discussed this with,open that news site up and look,as i talk. sure its not the local rag,er,paper,but,we have all been taken away from the norms of our past lifestyle and given little to look foreward to.after 40 years of change we never noticed,or passed on to the people,why, viable journalism is the first lines of history. i have a paper sub to thenation,i leave them in places i frequent,parts stores,restarants,mall chairs,post office tables, will they be passed on,or trashed,hopefully,read,and passed on..

  4. Keeping the people ignorant is the same thing as living in the dark on a mass scale. It’s why burglars mostly work at night, and eliminating news is what the tyrants need.

    So much for corporate American controlling the news media. And what media they still control is often misleading or outright bullshit. I’m sure Todd will weigh in on this.

    Marv,

    Just finished the second edit of my 4th novel. After over 1,400 queries I’m still waiting for an agent to request a read. How do agents know to reject a book without reading it?

  5. Vernon,

    “Marv, ……After over 1,400 queries I’m still waiting for an agent to request a read. How do agents know to reject a book without reading it?”

    It looks like your reputation proceeds you. You’re always too close to the REAL TRUTH. You can’t make any money on that. Who wants to know the REAL TRUTH? Like you, I still haven’t learned that unfortunate TRUTH either.

  6. I have a small example of how little the Gannett people care about accuracy. Since February, they have been erroneously reporting a ytd rainfall total that is short by .04 inches. I know that’s not a big deal, but it is incorrect. I wrote to the editors to point out their error, suggesting that they check their algorithm and fix it.

    I knew my letter wouldn’t be published, but I didn’t care about that. What I did and still do care about is that they haven’t fixed it. If they can’t be bothered to do this really simple fix, can we expect them to correct any error? It’s likely only those that might get them sued will ever be addressed. Thank God for my online subscription to WAPO.

  7. In my early life, there were generally TWO papers…
    The AM tended to be the Republican and the PM was more Democratic.
    Now, just SPORTS and BEER and dumb stuff. Very sad for me
    I grew up on TWO papers / day. My dad had the Capital Times (Madison WI) delivered daily and he picked up the Chicago Sun Times daily at the Madison Post office. I loved reading those papers. Now the STAR? Yuck.

  8. Gannet has been purchased by Gatehouse, which is now the largest syndicate in the country. Our local paper in the western part of the Florida Panhandle is a gatehouse paper. Most of its material comes from The Associated Press. To give you an idea about its popularity, of the 21 houses on our block, when I walk the dog in the morning, I see the paper in only four driveways other than ours. And some of our neighbors have been here for decades.

    The local paper has some reporters; for example several city officials are being tried for stealing federal funds from the Hurricane Michael relief program, but there is little else of interest to me in it. Even the daily crossword puzzle is sort of boring – it is too easy.

  9. Easy to conger up conspiracy theories about the demise of the printed news. But the truth is that technological advances simply pushed them off of their once exalted pinnacle. The TV news, particularly the national news, made inroads early on with coverage and reporting that local papers could not match. Then came the internet. Unfortunately, the promise of both of these outlets has never been realized due to their management’s focus on profit over the needs of society.
    If one wants to be informed, one needs to work for it. No longer will it just come to your house every morning on a printed page, nor on the nightly local news show. Perhaps this is the biggest divide in the country today… those with the current news and those who have little or none.

  10. Vernon,

    Why don’t you remove any reference to RACE out of your new book? That was Chris Hedge’s secret to his initial success with the publishing industry.

  11. Marv,

    Actually, the central theme of this new novel has to do with my strong female character helping the Muncie, IN police take down a cell of white supremacists who lynched one of her black friends.

    You may be right, though. Taking this issue head-on may be self-defeating. Too bad the truth is such a fragile thing.

  12. Vernon,

    You’re doing the rights thing. One of these days, probably sooner than later, running away from the TRUTH won’t be possible anymore. It will be exploding all around us.

  13. It is a new news world. Fortunately, there are national sources, the well-known: NY Times and Washington Post. And I would also suggest POGO (project on government oversight) and Politico – and give them money.

    Local news is a harder nut to crack. No, people don’t want a “paper” on their driveway. So what? Why not a “paper” in their email? We are a democracy that claims that investigative journalism is key to our freedom. Let’s get Congress to pass some tax laws supporting such efforts …that is, the new post -2020 one. Never hear Bernie or AOC suggest such things…hmmmm

  14. Vernon. I looked into finding an agent for a book I was writing. I found a web site that agents use to drum up business for themselves. Looking at it made me realize that if my book a mystery story with a female detective, and the plot had an IGBTQ component, 30 agents would be knocking on my door. But, I was writing something dealing with science, so there was no hope.

  15. Progress is sloppy. As soon as many people get involved in anything it becomes sloppy in how it’s executed. We may have lost some (a great deal) of our influence as voters in a democracy but, by God, we are still consumers and there are lines of corporations ready to profit from our collective demand.

    Trouble is most of us are happy with passive updating from a screen by an attractive entertainer the cost of which gets folded into the cable bill. That way we can chose the news that restores emotion to our otherwise drab existence.

    NPR/PBS and a few other sources have maintained the democratic lifeblood of the nation and we have to do everything we can to make sure that they don’t go broke like those that we killed that were so many of our reporting choices back in the day.

  16. It is actually worse than you think. Gatehouse Media has acquired Gannett. They will make even more cuts to their news operations.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/19/business/media/gannett-gatehouse-merger.html

    The sad thing is, this fragmentation of information is made worse by the collapse of the public school system. The state legislature capped property taxes and imposed spending rules on local school boards. Combine this with the loss of millions of dollars going to private schools.

    Now you can select the education you want and the news you hear/read. One can be completely isolated now, with no idea of what is actually happening out there.

  17. I dived into the whole media bubble back in 2010 when our local Gannett newspaper was supporting a republican mayor even though she was inept. They painted her out to be this truth crusader against the good ole boys, but corruption still reigned–it was just carried out by good ole boys wearing suits and ties.

    As some have mentioned, for decades, we were news consumers. We got the local paper delivered to our front steps and could turn on the television at night and get a 30-minute blast of state and national news and called ourselves, “informed.”

    Chomsky was already telling us in the 80s what was happening to our news industry, but we didn’t listen. The Boomer generation lacked the technical skills to go online and “surf for the news.”

    That’s why there is such a discrepancy in beliefs between the younger generation and the Boomers. For some reason, the younger group has a higher bullshit detector than us older folk.

    I worked with a retired journalism professor from Harvard to create a citizen-driven news outlet to replace the information vacuums, which started a decade ago. After pitching the concept to several sources in town, the Chamber stole the idea. It worked with a local radio station who are Ball brother sycophants, to create a business-friendly propaganda version.

    I didn’t realize Oligarchic wishes would defeat a college town like Muncie. That’s when I started exploring beyond our city limits to include Indianapolis and then national and international to learn why basically confirming what Noam Chomsky had already written.

    As of today, our local Gatehouse/Gannett newspaper is mainly a crime blog. #Pathetic

    However, several people have looked to fill the void via Facebook pages and podcasts. The city and county meetings are now being filmed by Facebook live so people can attend meetings in the comfort of the homes.

    The problem is these experiments won’t produce enough revenue to sustain themselves unless there is mass buy-in by the public who supports it. The support must come from the citizens — not the government or the private sector because you will get edited content to the approval of the funders — advertisers.

  18. I had relatives that worked for the Indianapolis Star and the Indianapolis Times now 7 plus decades ago. My Mom, who had been a reporter before I was born with The Indianapolis Times, was a regular contributor to the Star’s comments to the editor page complaining, often very pointedly, about the failings of that newspaper’s failings in reporting. A great uncle of mine, William Lowell “Tubby” Toms was a reporter and columnist for The Indianapolis News and he complained about the Star as well.

    What it is right now is a complete joke. I have cancelled by subscription to it as well since there is really no news of any consequence about anything but perhaps new restaurants opening in Carmel as if that’s really first section news to begin with. The Founding Fathers considered a vibrant and also adversarial press to be a critical part of our democracy and it’s demise outside of perhaps major cities and the Nation’s Capitol has helped to lead us to where we are right now – essentially on the precipice of loosing that democracy to an empty headed goon that we have sitting behind The Resolute Desk right now.

    Very sorry but “The Pravda of the Plains” is totally substandard journalism as I grew up knowing it more or less first hand.

  19. Pascal,

    I share your pain, brother. BUT, I don’t think it’s all about LGBQ. It’s about who is buying books. Just look at the Wal-Mart/Target bookshelves. It’s lurid, vapid, soft-porn romance, awful Sci-fi and dumb mysteries. Oh, there are a few decent novels in those genre’, like Baldacci’s stuff, but otherwise, the American consumer of books, is what you’d expect from those attending Trump rallies.

    I’ve received almost 1,500 rejections/non-responses for five non-fiction projects (you’ve seen my comments here) and three novels. Not a single agent has asked to read a manuscript. All the snappy query letters in the world aren’t going to move the publishers off of their business model and what they perceive (often rightly) as their market. So, good writing, intelligent stories and sound non-fiction will go begging.

    Maybe if we co-piloted a jet and landed on the Hudson River, we might get a call.

  20. Lester; please speak for yourself, don’t decide that other people do not want a “paper in their driveway”. I have years of clipped news article which I refer back to; also clip obits of family and friends, I can put the paper down to answer the door or grocery shop and pick it up later. I could take it to a neighbor who doesn’t subscribe to share local news or one of those obits they may not know about. There are at times useful coupons and advertisements of sales at all stores to compare; and I now have nothing to wrap garbage in.

    Gail; the Indianapolis Star is the anchor for Circle Centre Mall; major stores left long before the Pandemic which is killing of some businesses. The Star, as you well know, is not long for this world so, in addition to losing the only daily newspaper which some of my neighbors still subscribe to, the Mall will fold completely. The Star moved to the Mall to save it but there is no one to save the Star.

  21. Nice post. As a one time newspaper reporter / editor, and a lawyer who has represented numerous media outlets, I’ve said for a long time that the real impact in the demise of newspapers will be at the smaller town level. Indianapolis has some decent television reporting and there are the alternatives that you’ve mentioned. But there is no one covering the local school boards, the local county commissioners and county councils, or the various other agencies around the state. The result is that there is a lack of the sanitizing effect of sunlight. Unfortunately, to some extent that is happening at the national level as the Trump Administration seeks to close off public access to information on how money is being spent and how favors are being doled out.

  22. Our local paper reports little of interest—mostly domestic batteries and child molestations—maybe because the editorial board believes that’s what attracts viewers. Every now and then, there’s a report on what’s happening in city or county government. Last year, though, a community leader created a FB page in response to a very politically hot issue in our community. Even after the resolution of the issue, the FB page has remained popular and is a source (the best source, really) for political news, discussions, and opportunities to get involved in community issues, e.g., activism. I suggest more communities try it.

  23. Jack Smith, thank you for trying to talk with trumpers- you may even get the through to someone.

  24. When I was practicing law way back when in Indianapolis we Democrats called the Indianapolis Star the Indianapolis Liar. The afternoon News was much better, but that is a relative contrast. WAPO and the NYT they were not. Gannett with its AP and other vanilla approaches to “the news” is little more than a circular and we are so bereft of full press rooms that we are even yearning for a return of the Liar. Tsk! Parenthetically, I suppose Gannett cannot afford to have a full and active press room since TV and the internet are sucking up advertising revenues that were available to its predecessors, though one could argue that with more and larger press rooms the increase in circulation would attract greater advertising revenues – a managerial decision.

    I worry that it is not good in a democracy to have an almost single owner of the news, especially with hedge and equity funds roaming the globe not only for profit (in addition to virtually uncontrolled policies allowing mergers and acquisitions, buyouts from bankruptcy courts, cannibalizing distressed corporations, etc.), but also for influence over the public sphere with a view toward influencing policy in order to make even yet more profit, and blaming it on capitalism misses the mark since it is not an ism but rather the greedhogs who practice it who would be taking us down the garden path with their view of “the news.”(See Fox Gnus, Breitbart News, and other such Murdoch and far right propaganda organs).

    So what to do? Read newsy if not daily magazines for in depth happenings; watch PBS and MSNBC rather than Fox and Sinclair. Visit the library. Go to book and breakfast clubs. Participate in blogs such as this one. All is not lost with the demise of the press room. The solitary experience of reading a newspaper will have to be socialized in our news gathering, but just as Amazon revolutionized the marketing game, so, it seems to me, we have to change our means of becoming informed. Other sources of information are available. Let’s seek them out.

  25. The Internet and social media was one of the worst things that actually happened to mankind! Because it made people lazy! With the world’s knowledge or supposed knowledge and supposed wisdom at your fingertips, you would think people would be informed!

    But, they choose to search for any and all lunacy that does not juxtapose their own lunacy! Like was mentioned before, some mentally deficient or rabble rousing miscreant decides the earth is flat, why? And, why would anyone flock to that opinion? Just a small example of the world’s knowledge being at one’s fingertips, but it’s blown off because, because? Because! Because. Your guess is as good as mine!

    It was only a matter of time someone like ” Cambridge Analytica” repurposed information skimmed and purchased from Facebook and other social media enterprises, for nefarious purposes! This company learned how to target specific groups because of their opinions, and pit them against others because they knew of their leanings and opinions. So, if you can get everyone fighting and disagreeing, and basically getting out of the game so to speak, the few that know what’s going on, will sneak in and steal victory!

    Right before Christmas, they had the college rookie leagues in Chicago, they were on display for draft purposes. Nike put out the word, and dissed Adidas and others, to the point of a social media driven brawl at Nordstrom’s no less! The stupidity amongst the sheep is mind-boggling!

    And, my good friend Sheila, I guarantee, you are absolutely correct! It will go out with a whimper, not quietly, but with a whimper. Because it will be in the midst of riots and conflict which hadn’t been seen in this country for over 100 years! And, probably much worse.

    The churches are being manipulated by the president of the United States, willingly being led by the nose! To the point where governments, local governments are really angry because they claim, the churches claim, they have a right to do as they please because God is the only one they have to pay attention to!

    This is not only stupid, it’s completely against Scripture and completely wrong! Romans the 13th chapter speaks about this very issue! But somehow, POTUS has hijacked the churches for his own nefarious purposes, and this, this very issue, is going to bring about the demise of organized religion in the United States, and not just the United States, the entire planet. These nationalistic strongmen that are planted in their positions worldwide, will not always be there. And the recompense for organized religion is going to be loud and vicious.

    Too bad, because they’ve been warned through prophetic writings in Scripture that some of the major religious groups are aware of, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity! They all use the same books. The only outlier is the Quran, other than that, the 1st 5 books of the Bible are the Pentateuch (Christianity) the Tevrat (Islam) and the Torah (Judaism) or, the Psalms, which is Psalms in (Judaism) in ( Christianity) and lastly, in Islam, (Zebur)! Or the gospel books, New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which is called the gospel in Christianity, usually the same thing in Judaism although in Judaism they do not believe in the New Testament too much, and then Islam, where the gospel books are called INCUL!

    Too bad, it’s way way too bad! Because humans have gotten so lazy, and are so easily manipulated, they’ve signed the destruction of the religions they claim to love so much!

  26. JoAnn – You got me wrong – I know some folks do want a paper in their driveway – I get two! But, people “vote” with their wallet and check the driveways these days…

  27. The deplorables, when they entered the Internet and social media, walked their unformed brains into a powerful turning and shaping tool that will change them forever.

    John, “The Internet and social media was one of the worst things that actually happened to mankind! Because it made people lazy!”

    Cause and effect seem reversed here. People were lazy long before Internet came along. The Internet and social media did not make people lazy; rather lazy people made the Internet and social media flourish.

    I will go further…a long leap from the whining I read here…the Internet and social media may have made people more active in regard to reading and writing. By people I mean the masses. Most of those millions who now post on social media previously read nothing and wrote nothing and were never made to entertain a thought. Now they do, although at starter level. Most people who read Breitbart likely never read anything before.

    I call that an improvement.

    Here’s what has gone haywire. The former readers and writers and thinkers have gone lazy and quit on us. People like us. Yes, their laziness may have been abetted by the Internet. No doubt the Internet and social media have become one of their consuming interests; although, I hesitate to say the Internet CAUSED them to go lazy. The Internet and social media merely offer to serve the lazy…At your service my Lord…and the lazy accept the offer. They’re hooked, and it may be a good thing.

    The Internet and social media I contend are a monumental extension of the experiment reported in the book “The Freedom Writers Diary”. It tells how a teacher and 150 teens used writing (any and every inferior facsimile of writing) to change themselves and the world around them. It is a non-fiction 1999 book written by The Freedom Writers, a group of students from Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, and their teacher Erin Gruwell.

    When Gruwell proposed the Freedom Writers project might work with students who had failed under every other educational method, there were many critics who sounded just like the posts on this blog. And at first, the ignorance and bad writing of the students seemed to prove the critics right. But as it turned out, the sheer act of writing badly and the atrophied thinking, which even poor writing began to rehab among those sad minds, enabled a miracle turnaround. It took some time and a lot of ugly practice, but the lost students’ thinking improved as their writing improved and vise versa.

    Gruwell can’t lead the millions of lost students on social media, but there are many of us semi-literates who can. Lock horns with them, engage them, as Jack Smith does in face-to-face encounters while on the road. And be patient.

    Yep, John, the deplorables when entering the Internet and social media have walked into a buzzing tool that will change them forever.

  28. Or maybe the widespread church schools (including charters) have produced a nation of rote learners. Religion can’t be spread like a virus if the minds are fortified with critical thinking antibodies.
    Even here, religion is accepted without hesitation…Scriptures? Really?

  29. john,

    “It will go out with a whimper, not quietly, but with a whimper. Because it will be in the midst of riots and conflict which hadn’t been seen in this country for over 100 years! And, probably much worse.”

    The situation is much worse than what appears on the surface.

    What I find strange is the fact that no one, effectively, challenges this horrible example of a human being.

    First of all, for example, he talks about how intelligently he is and that he is a Wharton graduate,
    when in fact the scores on his college board examinations couldn’t have been good enough for him to be accepted as a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, since Trump transferred to Penn as a sophomore from Fordham University. I’m sure his father’s money had nothing to do with that. Now you can go to prison for it.

    Secondly, in many minds, an MBA from Wharton is comparable to having one from Harvard. Trump, consistently, talks of his Wharton degree. Only a fraud and a con man would do that. His degree, if he even has one, is from the University of Pennsylvania and, probably, like mine it is a B.S. in Economics, which I received in 1959.

    Many colleges have a name on the buildings of their schools. At Penn, the building (or buildings) housing the undergraduate program, as well as the MBA program, are called the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce.

    What a threesome: Crooked Cross, Civil Rights Scam, and President Death, who is a liar and a cheat. How could it be much worse? All I can think of is ARMAGEDDON.

    “Fake news” is one thing. Trump is personally a fake, and we all sit back and let him destroy the future of our country without an effective whimper, expecting the Democratic Party, the media, or the impotent NGOs to do something which will never happen with the framework now in place.

  30. Larry,

    You always fill in the blanks, I appreciate it!
    That being said, I do believe people gravitate towards what they believe, or what they would like reality to be. The Internet’s, LOL! Or the inter-webs, I couldn’t resist, seem to be a haven for those who are predatory on the weak minded.

    Fear is the driving force behind stupidity. Or maybe I should say ignorance, because stupid ones don’t know any better, the ignorant do, they just want to force a reality that doesn’t exist.
    (Willful ignorance)

    Just like crack dealers, you can always find the ignorance Peddlers who have those willfully ignorant wrapped around their finger.

    I do believe that the more you use your brain the better off you are, although the more you pollute it, the more disoriented and weaker it becomes! When a person is busy, working on a farm doing the good work, or something to that effect, they have no atrophy! But when a person is on steroids, not only are they not atrophied, they end up to be wacko! These ignorance peddlers fulfill that need!

  31. Ormond,

    I’ve seen you around for a while, you seem to be quite the celebrity in your own mind, and make sure everyone knows that you believe that on your social media! Personally, and I speak for myself, I don’t think you’re quite as smart as you think you are! You happen to be an example of what I’ve been referring to, someone who has made their bones on social media!

    Someone who wants to be an influencer so bad they can taste it, that’s pretty sad!

  32. Ormond,

    “Even here, religion is accepted without hesitation…Scriptures? Really?”

    That’s not true. If you’re talking about john and the passages he quotes, from my observation his take on things is probably closer to the truth than anyone else who participates on this blog.

    Who has anything more worthwhile to say? When we finally take a hard look at this mess, I doubt that we will have much more to help us than what the SCRIPTURES might provide.

  33. “For we both know that into the discussion of human affairs the QUESTION OF JUSTICE enters only where the PRESENCE OF NECESSITY IS EQUAL, and the powerful EXACT what they can, and the weak GRANT what they must.”

    ~Thucydides, an ancient Greek historian, philosopher, and General

    Things over time don’t change all that much. In this instance, we’re too weak. Maybe at some different time and place, JUSTICE might be a possibility.

  34. Thanks for being a canary in the newspaper coal mine for a long time. The Indianapolis STAR has become more and more pathetic, but I continue my subscription and even at-home delivery of the printed version because I believe the community is better off with than without a daily newspaper.

    I’ve always felt the news media does not do justice to reporting on local government with only slightly better attention to state government. “If it bleeds, it leads” has long governed local news reporting. I mentally tune out on murder and mayhem coverage on both print and electronic media and have often asked local reporters to PLEASE focus some attention on news viewers and readers can actually use.

    Neighbors and acquaintances have long expressed disgust at all the ‘bad news’ in the headlines and have an appetite for something different. So why not present us with school and local government business that affects residents in perceptible ways and on which the public would want to express opinions? I don’t know if that would create a greater appetite for newspaper subscriptions, but they’ll never find out if they never try.

  35. Printing a daily newspaper on paper and delivering it to homes throughout the metro area is certainly not the future of journalism. Think of how costly that is versus transmitting the same product electronically. Yes, I know, I too would rather read the paper copy of the newspaper than read it on my computer. But if the sacrifice is giving up good investigative journalism for a paper newspaper in my driveway…yeah, that’s a sacrifice that needs to be made. We really need quality investigative journalism to keep government honest. We’ve been missing that in Indy for quite some time.

  36. I remember reading an expose on Federal funding to nursing homes being siphoned off by the owners( hospitals)to their building funds. This article featured a few months ago in the Star on a Sunday. I know this kind of shifting funds to pet projects causes misery to the old/infirm ,and the staff of those facilities. Too bad we don’t have more of that kind of truth telling reporting. No one wants their Grandparent neglected to build bigger & better. My impression is that medicaid funding is adequate to meet needs, but not above & beyond. So redirecting those monies actually effects the daily care of pts. In other words taking those old folks money lessens the quality of care they are receiving. They are stealing from our most vulnerable!

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