Where do you get YOUR news?

In reading the comments over at Jessica DaSilva’s blog, I was struck by Sheila Scarborough‘s comment where she wrote

The nugget, the lede, the important issue that is rapidly being buried here is that when I walk out to my driveway in the morning and pick up my nicely rubber-banded and bagged print newspaper, there is no one else out there in bathrobes to join me.

No one.

I am the only house for BLOCKS that gets the daily newspaper.

Where are people getting their news, then?

What a GREAT question!  I haven’t subscribed to a “local paper” for a very long time.  I don’t subscribe to one here in Harrisburg, although I do like the Patriot-News.  (and I do like the reporting by Daniel Victor!  see  him at twitter)   I didn’t subscribe to one in Dayton, either.  I can’t remember if I ever subscribed to one in State College.

For me, the question is simple, but the answer is complex. It’s not as simple as “I can get all my news online,” although I obviously can, since I linked to the Patriot-News.  I also receive the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post delivered to my Kindle. (without advertising.)

So why don’t I get a local paper?  Honestly, I haven’t had a whole lot of faith in the ability of local reporters to get the story “right.”  I wrote in a comment back on DaSilva’s blog

After service in the Armed Forces for 20 years, and a few other jobs along the way, I have noticed how what “really happened” and what is reported are often quite different. Sometimes with serious consequences. Most often, it is because the reporter was not familiar with the actual organization/technology/operation on which they reported.

I have found that this is not limited to stories of complex military and political issues.  When I am familiar with the story I read, I find errors in fact that just “get in the way.”  Swimmers’ times are reported incorrectly.  Swimmers names are wrong.  Analysis of budget figures are done so poorly as to give “back of envelope” math a bad name.  Sometimes they are just written in a way that makes me have to re-read it a few times to figure out what they meant.  For instance, in today’s Partriot-News one reporter writes “Pennsylvania has 36 fairs — four more than 200 years old.”  (My confusion is the count of the number of fairs, followed by “four more than…”  This had me thinking something else was numbered at 32.  Until I realized that the reporter meant “four of them over 200 years old.”  Trivial, but it makes the point.)

All in all, I find that my faith in the local reporters’ ability to “report” is challenged.  I am not quite sure what to believe.

This is compounded further by the apparent need for reporters to view themselves as activists.  They often inject their own editorial comments into the stories.  Often they are simply the introduction of an adjective or some other description that I am sure the reporter intended to make the story interesting, but unfortunately also tends to tilt the story.  Just check out the way the same story (use Google News) can be reported by different newspapers to see the ways they perhaps unintentionally spin the story.

All that said, I do stay up on the news. In fact, I use Google News quite a lot.  I use RSS feeds (and am really liking the new Adobe Air app, Snackr, which selects, and scrolls. random headlines from my feeds list.)

So my question for you is: where do you get your news?


3 thoughts on “Where do you get YOUR news?

  1. Several good points here, and stuff we’re trying to figure out all the time. Most of my fellow reporters are cognizant of the fact that those tiny mistakes really destroy our credibility, and I know I personally really, really get mad at myself when I make them.

    The only point I’d dispute is that of reporters seeing themselves as activists — I’ve never met a single one who does. People often don’t believe me when I say that, but it’s very much true. Words that some readers perceive as tilting a story are generally intended to offer better descriptions. At the end of that paragraph you came to the correct word — “unintentionally” — that best describes most apparent slant. That, or laziness.

    The big issue, though, is that newspaper reporters need to be better in order to make our industry worth saving in the first place. We’ve spent a lot of time bellyaching about losing circulation, and not too much time giving an honest self-review of ways we ought to be improving.

  2. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for picking up my “morning driveway” comment.

    My problem is that I get the local Austin paper, the thrice-weekly “Round Rock Leader,” a stack of magazines across a swath of topics and hundreds of RSS feeds on FeedDemon, plus links and insights on Twitter and the occasional email or snail mail that actually matters. During the day, I skim current headlines on a Yahoo homepage when I’m checking an email account there.

    This is a bad time to be a 47-year-old news junkie, because I’m comfortable with all the means of delivery and I have a hard time saying NO to any of them.

    What’s off the table? Television. I never watch it unless there’s a sports event, mostly hoops and NHRA drag racing. I haven’t regularly watched a series since “Seinfeld,” and there’s no great disturbance in the Force even though I’ve never seen “Sex and the City.”

    I rarely watch online video or listen to podcasts, because you can’t skim them and are forced to go at the pace of the medium, whereas I can speed up or slow down/dig in with print.

    I will always get the local paper, and at least a couple of news mags (currently “Newsweek” and “BusinessWeek.”) That’s how I was raised, and I like reading on paper better than a screen.

    Plus, I put my money where my mouth is, and financially support those institutions that I cherish.

  3. Daniel:

    Your perception:

    “The only point I’d dispute is that of reporters seeing themselves as activists — I’ve never met a single one who does. People often don’t believe me when I say that, but it’s very much true. Words that some readers perceive as tilting a story are generally intended to offer better descriptions. ”

    is fascinatingly self-referential.

    Kinda like Archie Bunker saying “nobody I know is a bigot.”

    I mean really-

    IF *all* reporters are left-leaning (objective evidence supports this)

    AND the journalism schools teach that “the proper role of the journalist is to change society for the better” (activism; and objective evidence supports this also)

    THEN obviously, no journalist would perceive what they do as “left leaning activism;” even though EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE FREAKIN WORLD SEES THIS AS A TRUISM!

    I mean, Sheesh!

    In my (couple-three times a year) contacts with the “press” (various media), it invariably and painfully becomes obvious 5 minutes into the interview that the “reporter” [sic] has a “message” that they are trying to “convey” to the “uninformed” and that all they really want from my “expert opinion” are “facts” to support their “important message.”

    “Vikings? There are no Vikings here! When we showed up, the village was already looted, pillaged, and on fire . . . “

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