The 2 train was not part of the online revolution this morning. Everyone sitting, standing and leaning had their noses buried in a newspaper.
Robbie Ruiz from Mott Haven got his nose bent-out-of-shape when asked why he didn’t get his news online.
“Do I look like I’ve got a computer in my pocket?” he snapped. “They ought to try putting some more of that news in the paper so the rest of us can read it.”
Ruiz’s frustration came from The New York Times.
“They don’t care about us saps who read the paper,” Ruiz said. “I turn to page 4 and they tell me what’s on their Website: audio and video and special features. After I pay $1.50 they want to rub my nose in all the stuff they offer for free to people who have computers.”
The New York Times is still the standard for journalism in this country. And they show just how far that standard has fallen.
“You’ve got to dig for everything in this paper,” Ruiz explained. “The Metro section is part of the front section and the Sports section is buried in the back of the Business section. The first things I want to know are what’s going on in my neighborhood and what’s going on with the Yankees. They make me search for both and go online for the rest.”
There are some who say that online publications are the wave of the future. Declining circulations indicate that a lot of people aren’t reading newspapers anymore. But it was newspapers that first quit on readers a long time ago. They started by laying off reporters and photographers and then cutting pages and eventually whole sections. Some do it all online now and don’t even print.
Online publications may be good for business – there isn’t much overhead and they can certainly cater to the wealthy demographic that advertisers crave – but calling that journalism is like calling MLB 08 The Show baseball.
I know that newspapers are businesses, but I also understand that they are a critical piece of a functioning democracy. Limiting content and access can cause problems.
“I’m sure The Times is shafting me on the Yankees coverage,” Ruiz said. “Maybe they’re dumping more stuff online or something. They own a big chunk of the Red Sox and they’ve got it out for us in the Bronx.”
The standard for impartial journalism is certainly pretty low these days.