Back to: Brief outage | Forward to: Room 101

Lorem Ipsum

A month ago, while I was camping out in a hotel in Colorado Springs, a copy of USA TODAY slid under our hotel door in the night. A question — does anyone actually read that thing? I look at the front page and all I can see is "Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit..." in turgid American journalese. The so-called "stories" on the front page are not news; they're perfectly shaped pieces of text that outwardly conform to the aesthetic of modern American journalism while actually containing nothing of any significance.

Let me anatomize:

Above the fold:

"Belichick & Brady" -- seemingly something to do with some kind of local sportsmen who may, due to their talents, compete in an upcoming game. (Global newsworthiness: nil.)

"It pays to retire as military's top brass (Some can make more in pensions than pay)" — might be informative to 18 year olds planning a career path, but global relevance (unless you're a general or admiral, or a US legislator who wants to cut military pay): nil. (I found it interesting that the highest pension of $272,892 would be paid to a retired four-star officer with 43 years of service. Who, by that point, is too old to execute the usual exit strategy of going into industry as a senior manager/executive officer and taking a 1000% pay rise.)

Also above the fold, teasers: "Donor disclosure - Romney Super PAC attacks Gingrich on Freddie tie, but it has ties too" — this isn't news, it's tittle-tattle of mind-boggling insignificance. Also: "NBC's song, dance: Network hopes musical SMASH will help it boost ratings, turn the tide". More micro-coverage junk of zero interest unless you happen to be obsessed with network TV ratings (helloooo, 1964 calling, can we have our headlines back?).

Below the fold:

"See news photos of the day on your smartphone" (using a QR code to download an app)

"Newsline" — small heads. Typically, "Spirit Airlines adding $2 charge on tickets" lists above "Deadly cold, blizzards strike Eastern Europe" (with more than 100 dead and hideous news of weather disaster). Other news items: "Mid-Atlantic areas OK'd for wind power leases", "8 states raise minimum wage; 9 considering it", "Underground railroad center fights to survive", "Funds that invest in real estate doing well".

... And this waste of dead trees bills itself as "The Nation's Newspaper"?

What you would miss if you relied on it that day: Egypt going up in flames again, the International Court of Justice determining that Italy violated German sovereignty, the famine in Somalia officially ending, a toxic cadmium spill threatening the water supplies of a major Chinese city, Israel and Iran to be swapping assassination attempts ...

I'm baffled, simply baffled, by the terrible state of the American newspaper. Even the New York Times isn't that much better: a hive of axe-grinding propaganda edited with blinkered parochialism. I'd expect better of the Yorkshire Evening Post, and that's saying something.

193 Comments

1:

It's worse than that, Charlie: most Americans don't know how to read. At all. They get their news from Fox.

2:

Worse: Many 'news' stories are apparently only press releases delivered directly from PR firms.

3:

It's got its uses:
1) A Sudoku I can reliably do in pen before caffeine has taken effect
2) TV listings
3) Blocking the light from the hallway streaming in under the door

4:

And this is one of the reasons why I follow Nassim Taleeb's advice: Don't read news. They are either downers (sells way better than positive news), or utterly irrelevant (sells best).

5:

The Yorkshire Evening Post? I think nowt to it.

6:

USA TODAY is roundly mocked as pablum here. "America's Third Grade Reader", "Even Fish Would Be Insulted", etc. I'm not sure what the UK analog would be, but surely there's some sort of lowest-possible-common-denominator rag there.

The NYT has bled so much from their newsroom over the past decade or so that it's amazing they can string enough letters together to publish more than "I has feets! Derp!" (but their recently departed CEO simply must have her $25,000/hr consulting agreement golden parachute, don't you know?).

7:

Considering a read two daily newspaper every day I wasn't aware of these two items :-

International Court of Justice determining that Italy violated German sovereignty, the famine in Somalia officially ending

The thing is that USA today is the metro for hotel groups. It gives them the ability to offer a paper without content to those who want a paper while offering advertisers the ability to advertise to x million people if you pretend that people actually read it.

8:

Mustn't read USA Today... ever... It is not a newspaper, it is peplum and a waste of trees. If I am visiting and staying in a hotel, I look for the local paper; I request it rather than that POS; sometimes I get the local; sometimes they just keep delivering it. I feel horrible when I trash it unopened.

That being said, they are actually one step up from NewsCorp sheise (I think Murdoch's company is News International where you are - SSDD).

We have a person running for the republican nomination who called President Obama "a snob" for wanting everyone to attend an additional year of some sort of education above high school. Considering that my cats read better than the children in my neighborhood, I doubt this will help, but maybe... I am terribly embarrassed by the state of our abilities in the fundamentals.

How ever did you end up in Colorado? Oh, a Con? You probably met the only people in the state who actually read. Same happens w/DragonCon here in Georgia. We moved here from Santa Monica in 2009 and children walk by my library window to the lake and stare at the books like they are foreign objects.

9:

Some cliches:

1. Americans don't care about other countries

2. Most Americans don't have the attention span to read an entire newspaper article.

your thoughts?

10:

News is what someone somewhere does not want you to know

11:

Umm, you do know that a Pulitzer was given out a few years ago for an investigation into a Pentagon propaganda program where high-ranking officials were being sent out as "consultants" to new organizations to push the official line?

Or that the NYT "withheld" the data they had on internal surveillance before the 2004 election?

The list is endless --- you're not looking at "crap", but a really well run system of distraction, the Chomskyan management of consent. It's good that you've had the vision --- but I'm surprised that it took this long. But well, I'm also surprised by your Laundry series or Iron Sky series that also projects a naive positivism (intentionally?), at least for your culturally British characters.

12:

Oh, no one had ever warned you that USA Today isn't actually a newspaper? Sorry, I guess we all assumed you already knew. Obviously the quality of USian journalism really is atrocious, but citing USA Today as an example of journalism is just not cricket.

13:

I'm surprised that it took this long

It didn't; I've been aware of this for many years. However, I just felt like venting on my blog and I'm short of news stories today :)

14:

It's the USA Today, dammit. We Americans care nothing for your irrelevant foreign news. Or something.

But yes, I agree that the state of news in the US is depressing. It's either useless (USA Today), horrifyingly biased (Fox), or desperate to seem "fair" to both sides, rather than concerned with the truth (NYT, WaPo).

15:

The last time I saw USA Today it was woefully short of "actual news" but did have some nice synoptic charts [proper 'weather maps' like forecasters use to work out what the pretty graphics shoul show(ok, not much use if you can't read them)], and some well written articles on subjects that need actual thought if you made it to the back 6 pages.

In the main I agree though!

16:

... And this waste of dead trees bills itself as "The Nation's Newspaper"?

'Itself' being the keyword there.

But no, American journalism ain't what it used to be. I presume that you saw Colorado Springs' daily, The Gazette? And noted how thin it was; maybe a dozen pages of news, local with some international, squeezed in between the ads, along with the Sports section the same number of pages. The national/international news coming from the news services, to be chopped up, with the occasional article ending in the middle of a sentence. It's always been a conservative rag, but it used to have a lot more content, and has been shrinking for the past decade.

17:

The demographic that still spends money on physical newspapers in the US has to be pretty oddball and way out on the bell curve...

19:

Nobody actually buys USA Today. Most of its distribution is free of charge to the consumer. It's primarily a business paper, but without the actual content of the WSJ. It's the business paper for business people who don't really give a damn but want to point their eyes at something while grazing the continental breakfast at the extended stay hotel.

20:

US newspapers used to contain, at least in big cities, what I would call "necessary intelligence for middle-class living." They were not perfect by any means, but a careful reading of the front and business sections would give someone a decent understanding of what laws were being passed/contemplated, what was really happening in world, national and local politics, and what one could reasonably expect from the world of business. There weren't any real secrets for the most part, (though US papers did break the news on Watergate and the Pentagon Papers) but nonetheless a newspaper subscription would give financial, political, and real-life rewards to the careful reader.

Newspapers understood what they were supposed to provide, and readers knew how to interpret the nearest "big city" paper.

At this point, however, the average newspaper is crap. Few, if any, are independently owned and instead of presenting useful knowledge, they present "the narrative." It's been the equivalent, over thirty years or so, of watching eagles evolve into pigeons.

USA Today is the poster child for that development. Fortunately, I have the Internet, so I know what's really going on.

21:

USA Today was started by Al Neuharth. He also founded the Newseum. Contemplate for a moment, if you can, the idea of a museum of news. If that makes sense to you please run, don't walk, to the nearest mental health facility for evaluation.

22:

Which is one major reason newspapers are in big trouble

23:

Properly printed newspapers have an important use that you can't do with electronic media:

You can press and dry plants in them.

We botanists find newspapers very absorbing.

24:

Newspapers are also getting a lot of competition from this kind of thing.

25:

Journalism was assimilated by entertainment long ago. To be perfectly honest, with all the colors and carefully designed sectional layout, I always thought that USA Today was someone's sophomore art project that got out of hand.

26:

As if British all national newspapers were good. NoW? Daily Mail? The Sun? I thought they were to sit on in the bus to keep your trousers clean.

Now if you really want trash, pop outside your hotel room and go to the grocery store. The checkouts are lined with tabloids.

I find the US version of The Guardian online not bad for a quick headline read, but they also succumb to celebrity and sports news.

In this day and age of wireless internet, the newspaper left outside the door is as quaint and functionless as vased flowers on the breakfast table. 20 years ago you could see people reading USToday at the table, today I suspect you would be hard put to see even one.

As someone posted upthread, it is just to maintain circulation numbers for advertising, and there is a lot of advertising in it - how else could it be so huge?

27:

I doubt the Sun is much better..
the resurrected NotW had a scary story about ships being stranded in the desert
the aral sea
cutting edge seat-of -the-pants reporting
50 year old story
next week the special is about something called a 'gemini mission'

28:

The Sun never was a newspaper, the Daily Wail survives on little Englanders who never quite came to terms with the end of WW2 and the British Empire...

Charlie (and I) are used to being able to buy the (Glasgow) Herald and/or the Scotsman every day.

29:

"2. Most Americans don't have the attention span to read an entire newspaper article."

...I'll actually agree with that (in my case). I'm a 21-year-old American, and I can't stand the meandering way that newspaper articles are written. I usually lose interest somewhere around the second or third quotation from someone (peripherally) involved with the issue. I am definitely interested in news, especially when it's coming from somewhere other than the US, but I'm more likely to read a blog post about the issue than a news article.

30:

A literal-minded reply:

I look at the front page and all I can see is "Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit..."

Hey, if they put Cicero on the front page it can't be all bad.

(But I'll have to assume it was in order to disagree. What was their position on eating cake vs. having cake?)

31:

I expected you could see the fnords. I'm unimpressed by the good papers here, and USA Today isn't one of those.

32:

At this point, however, the average newspaper is crap. Few, if any, are independently owned and instead of presenting useful knowledge, they present "the narrative." It's been the equivalent, over thirty years or so, of watching eagles evolve into pigeons.

Meanwhile, here I am, coming from a country where newspapers still count -- either positively or negatively, depending on context. Positive: the Telegraph pursuing the parliamentary expenses scandal ruthlessly, to the point of shaking the government. The Guardian, both with and without Wikileaks, breaking torture scandals and, more recently, digging the dirt on the bugging scandal engulfing News International. Negatively: News International (as witness the Leveson inquiry). But -- like them or loathe them -- the British newspapers aren't irrelevant.

33:

"Worse: Many 'news' stories are apparently only press releases delivered directly from PR firms."

Actually, I have worked with a number of long-time journalists who do take press releases and rewrite them for publication, with one or two dissenting quotes from "experts" to at appear "fair and balanced."

34:
"Belichick & Brady" -- seemingly something to do with some kind of local sportsmen who may, due to their talents, compete in an upcoming game. (Global newsworthiness: nil.)
The largest annual sporting event in the United States, and the head coach and team captain of the (losing) team thereof.

It's not WORLD TODAY, and the paper has never had terribly good sports journalism [*], but when over a hundred million people view the same event out of their own volition, it probably does merit some coverage, no?

(I understand the cultural roots of SF fandom's aversion to sports, and similarly the non-American hostility to the gridiron, but I also understand that it's at best self-limiting tribal identification.)

[*] USA TODAY has a great weather map for domestic air travelers. Given that I've never paid for it, it's been excellent value for the money.

35:

Unfortunately the BBC these days seems dedicated to copying newspaper methods of simpy regurgitating press releases without paying any attention to any sort of truth or challenging them about their wrongness. Instead of informing us, their mission now seems to be to entertain us.

36:

Global newsworthiness: nil.

It is called USA Today. Not The World Today.

It was started as primarily a way to get ads into the hands of business travelers. And it was designed to compete with TV news. Especially CNN/HLN from the 80s. The competition was local papers which were terrible for business travelers back them. As one of those who traveled 30 to 40 times per year in the 80s, local papers were terrible. Each had their own style of organization, political leanings and local points of view that made it very hard to do more than read the front page for a few things. Then USA Today showed up with it's TV like news stands and national content. But I gave up on it for the same reasons as Charlie listed. only 1 article per section was longer than a few inches and the rest were really intros to the story you might wanted to read.

And I suspect that news papers in the UK are better due to population density. Once you leave the north east and the remaining big cities you have a very big geography to cover in the US without a lot of population. So many local papers were/are VERY local. Then in the US the papers let Craig's List destroy their major source of ad revenue (not that they didn't deserve it given the rape and pillage prices they charged for classified ads) and now they are all on a downward spiral that may not end till we are leave with a few state wide and regional papers. If that.

Of course they are thin now. Without larger chain stores running full pages ads every day and the missing classified, there is not much money to pay for news reporting.

37:

Some of us like sports; this does not mean that we understand an obsession with donning 80lb of body armour in order to play a simplified version of rugby!

Oh and I'm not a fan of Wendyball (aka Soccer) either.

38:

"It's worse than that, Charlie: most Americans don't know how to read. At all. They get their news from Fox."

Yay, it only took ten minutes for the first elitist comment to manifest. "I'm intelligent and literate, and I don't watch Fox; therefore, people who watch Fox must be unintelligent and illiterate."

39:

Meanwhile, here I am, coming from a country where newspapers still count -- either positively or negatively, depending on context. Positive: the Telegraph pursuing the parliamentary expenses scandal ruthlessly, to the point of shaking the government.

And they do in some areas here. Our local paper has morphed into a state wide paper after a tie up with the largest metro area paper at the other end of the state. They share reporting on issues such as sports and state and national items and then do their own thing for local issues. It is the only way to pay the bills. And they have played a large rolls in investigations and indictments of state and local officials over the last few years. But you would find them really a boring read as nation and world coverage is thin. They have given up and left that to the internet and cable news.

40:

The most Americans watch Fox bit confuses me. Where on earth does he get those stats? It does have some of the most watch cable TV opinion shows. But that's like 40% of 20% of the US population.

41:

I think I need to re-start my grammar engine today. Sorry for all the verb tense problems.

42:

Like I said, I understand how learned disdain is a very good tribal self-identification marker. I think it was Samuel Delany who pointed out how boredom worked in the same way -- it's an excellent strategy to insulate yourself from the passions of another group.

Of course, there are deeper differences among the football sports: the gridiron is something closer to a turn-based sport, while soccer and rugby are more flow-based sports. People who have expectations based on one often dislike the other.

(Give the size and power of the typical gridiron player, the body armor is necessary -- and frankly, still not good enough -- unless you're of the school of thought that the fear of injury will limit blows, which is why we have sharp spikes in cars instead of seat belts.)

43:

I am informed that the UK has a vast number of national dailies compared to other countries, and on a per capita basis the larger nations are woefully under-served in comparison. When you've only got a couple of competitors, you don't necessarily have to be any good.

44:

As per Neilsen ratings, Fox is the most-watched US network driven mostly by NFL and American Idol. Ironically, the longest running cartoon satire series (The Simpsons)is a Fox product.

CBS, the second highest rated network pulls its audiences primarily from sci/tech-friendly crime dramas (NCIS, The Mentalist, Criminal Minds, Person of Interest, etc.) and Big Bang Theory, the only sitcom in the top-10 which also happens to be sci/tech-friendly.

http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/top10s/television.html

45:

The key question is the ownership of these local daily newspapers - local, national or international.

46:

USA Today is The Village's Newspaper. Be seeing you!

47:


When it debuted, USA Today's marketing angle was that it was colorful, with lots of infographics at a time when those were uncommon, and being less stodgy than the New York Times or other big papers.

I suspect The Onion modeled itself after USA Today, in tone and appearance, if not content.

48:

""Belichick & Brady" -- seemingly something to do with some kind of local sportsmen who may, due to their talents, compete in an upcoming game. (Global newsworthiness: nil.)"

Brady's girlfriend is a Brazilian supermodel. There's your global newsworthiness. ;^)

49:

The comment that started it was "They get their news from Fox."

Which to me implied that they were referring to the Fox News cable channel. Which seemed to fit the flow of this post. In my mind Fox entertainment and Fox News are barely related.

But I may be wrong here. :)

50:

Given that Fox News is actively and openly(*) a propaganda network, it's hard to think of all that many justifications for informed and intelligent people to get their news there.

Most American cable news journalism is terrible. However, Fox, as the purposeful propaganda organ of a specific political party, is a whole different type of animal.


(*) Yes, openly - they have gone to court and argued publicly for their right under the First Amendment to present dishonest and slanted coverage of stories to suit their ideological and financial interests. They won.

51:

Things are pretty bad in Canada too. The [i]Globe and Mail[/i] still does some good research, but its been taken over by suits who with mirthless eyes explain that its not fair to deny space to someone just because they are an authoritatian lunatic. Exempla of the sort of things they publish to be "fair and balanced" include Tom Flanagan's column* and a recent editorial that its good that many Canadians won't have enough savings and benefits to retire, because they will continue to work and be productive after 65, rather than doing useless things like studying and teaching and travelling and volunteering and crafts. Most local papers are useless except for local news.

* He is an advisor to one of our big federal parties, pro-rich and authoritarian but happy to collect public money as a tenured professor, and a so-gennant political scientist who suggested on live television that the US should knock off Julian Assange; he strikes me as a classic cocktail party Machiavellian who would run screaming from a genuine hard man

52:

I think, first off, that usatoday (like any media outfit -- including book publishers), is in trouble because of how media consumption habits are changing.

And, second, I think that "their target audience being mostly travelers and that that means mostly business people" is also a fair criticism.

In some sense, it's probably something of a "city paper" except that instead of having one specific city for an audience, its audience must include a lot of people that are not tied to one specific location.

But "hard hitting news"? I do think they should have more content, yes. I totally agree with you there. They do sometimes publish articles worth reading, by-the-way: stuff that probably took a long time to research. But they are clearly understaffed or maybe underfunded for that kind of thing, and a major aspect of what you can currently expect there looks to be rehashes of someone else's content.

Meanwhile, though, they will adapt to current and future circumstances -- which I think means that filler content has less and less value -- or they will go under. I do not see them having any other options.

Did I mention that they are a media company, and that media companies are in trouble?

53:

There are really only a few good national papers in the US. New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post.

54:

Charlie... this is BS and you know it. First, guess what, not everything has to have global relevance. You're in Colorado Springs reading a second rate US newspaper for free and you're whining that some of the stories are about US-centric topics? Be real. You might not give a rat's ass about US football, but given what you were reading and where you were at, it borders on trolling your own site to complain about an article on the biggest game of the year in the US in the country's most popular sport. I'm not complaining about it if I'm in Edinburgh reading one of the UK papers about soccer, er, football. Global relevance about how, say, Liverpool is doing? Nil. But whining about it would be silly.

Combine that with the fact that you're reading USA TODAY. Not exactly the pinnacle of US papers. If I read the old Sun, I suppose I got nothing but erudite journalistic missives on the deep issues in the world? Bull.

You're obviously still tired and overworked.

55:

Actually, most of the local newspapers in Canada are pretty crap for local news as well - being branch plants of the One Big Media Company. We get our best local news here from a free paper distributed twice a week - it actually bothers to undertake investigative journalism, take independent stances on local and regional issues, etc... The corporate daily paper the I refuse to pay for isn't even worth pressing plants with (too thin). This seems to be the case in much of Canada. Larger cities have larger corporate daily papers, so they do have some utility for plants, incontinent animals, etc... Same lack of actual news, though.

56:

Here's an open question: can you fold USA Today into a Milwall Brick, or at least, something to wedge your hotel room door shut against someone who's trying to break in?

If so, it's useful...

57:

The Herald is owned by the same company that publishes USA Today.

58:

Rick: this is your yellow card.

Be polite, or I'm going to wield the ban hammer Milwall Brick on your ass.

59:
"I'm intelligent and literate, and I don't watch Fox; therefore, people who watch Fox must be unintelligent and illiterate."

Close, but don't think that's quite the syllogism Waters was getting at. I took it as more along the lines of "I'm intelligent and literate; it is hence obvious to me that Fox News constantly pushes flagrant falsehoods which are refutable with a little bit of thought and/or additional research; therefore, people who believe Fox News must be unintelligent, illiterate, or rabid partisans who don't actually care about truthfulness." There remains a whiff of elitism, of course, as this still excludes the possibility that people might be busy or preoccupied with their own concerns, and get their news from Fox merely out of not knowing any better.

Also, I might be overanalyzing a two-sentence comment just a bit.

60:

However, Fox, as the purposeful propaganda organ of a specific political party, is a whole different type of animal.

If you watch the adds for their own shows on MSNBC you could say the same thing about them.

I tend to Tivo one show on msnbc for background when I can listen and not have it break my train of thought. The ads for their (msnbc) shows throughout the day are incredibly partisan. Just in the opposite direction from Fox. Which is why I rarely listen to ANY cable news but one show. And barely put up with my local news at night. I usually have it on while checking up on emails and reading the paper so I can mentally tune out the nonsense about how gas prices have gone up again.

61:

> It's the business paper for business people who don't really give a damn but want to point their eyes at something while grazing the continental breakfast at the extended stay hotel.

Exactly. It's something to do early in the morning while absorbing enough caffeine to actually function. It's either that, listen to the Fox News that's inevitably playing on the wall or look at what you're eating. I actually don't mind USA Today in that limited role in US hotels/motels. It's also OK bathroom reading if you forgot to bring something better.

Maybe the spread of pads will make better caffeinating options than USA Today available. We'll see.

62:

Since you asked whether anyone actually reads USA Today: At this very moment my fiancée's mother is reading it in the next room. She would rather have it than any of the local papers, mostly, I think, because that way she can have the sports coverage without having to be aware of any local politics.

63:

I'm not crazy about MSNBC either, but I'll consider it equivalent to Fox just as soon as Fox starts giving three hours a day to a former Democratic Congressman.

64:

"Meanwhile, here I am, coming from a country where newspapers still count"

How do they do that? In the US, the conventional wisdom is that newspapers are dead, victims of the Internet, and just waiting to be inhumed. News and sports are all over the web. Ads are on Google, craigslist, and eBay. The weather is on your phone. Movie listings are -- um, movie theaters are dead too.

The newspaper employees I know expect pink slips any month now; most have already received them. I can't name anyone who subscribes to a paper.

So how are papers staying relevant in the UK?

(As for USA Today, I suspect that 90% of its subscribers are in fact hotel waste baskets.)

65:

I'm looking at our press in the UK and it's every bit as bad. There are intelligent things written on newspaper websites. All intelligent things are said in the comments section (along with piles of incredibly bigoted and idiotic stuff). The problem is most readers don't have the time or research experience to get a good realistic world narrative built so they accept the pap they are fed by hugely politicised media.

66:

The only thing you can believe in a newspaper is the date, and that's only if it's today's paper!

67:

That newspapers have become worthless as sources of information is not happenstance.

During the 1960's & 70's (and probably earlier) newspapers were owned by people who cared about the news. But they weren't very profitable, and they were, by and large, publicly traded corporations. This made them inexpensive to acquire control over, even if an apparently unwise decision on purely financial grounds. As time went by more and more newspapers were purchased (or had control purchased) by corporations that had no interest in news as news. Since they weren't very profitable (and, indeed, often ran at a loss) this wasn't a decision made on financial grounds. It was, however, a cheap and useful act to take on political grounds. The people who are now editors are people who are willing to take direction on what stories not to print. I have no particular reason to believe that they ever actually intentionally lie, but they avoid stories that might be embarassing to the corporations that own them. And these corporations have interests in a multitude of areas. So it's safest to avoid areas that the owners MIGHT have an interest in.

N.B.: Most of the alteration in news comes as a result of self-censorship, not as a result of direction from above. But it's there anyway.


P.S.: In the 1990's or 2000's local papers in the area in which I live were being bought up by a corporation that already owned a large chain of local newspapers. They have become increasingly useless for anything except strictly local news. I doubt that this was the intention of the purchasers, but it *was* the effect. Editors feel less free to speak their minds, and are more concerned about how their (distant and unknown) owners would feel about their opinions and about the stories they carry. This is an automatic effect of the change in organization without any need for the exertion of control by the owners. When the editor *is* less independent, he *acts* less independent. And if he doesn't know what would make the owner think he was doing a poor job, he makes a conservative guess.

And please note that the current owners aren't interested in the news as news. Truth is only of interest as a defense against libel. But they also don't exercise control with a heavy hand. They let uncertainty do the job. (Sometimes, I suspect, they don't even want the result, but it makes little difference.)

68:

MSNBC is actually kind of an interesting case. It adopted its modern (obviously slanted) approach as a direct market reaction to Fox's huge success. They're a pre-existing, and awful, cable news channel that made a conscious decision to rebrand themselves as "Fox for the Left" out of pure profit-motive.

But ultimately, as awful as they are, even that still pales in comparison to Fox News. MSNBC remains a (terrible) news network ultimately motivated by profit. Whereas Fox was created by Republican strategists for the explicit purpose of spreading party propaganda. Although making lots of money certainly doesn't hurt, of course.

As terrible as they are, MSNBC does also still do better than Fox when it comes to the quantity of outright fabrications taking up airtime.

Basically, all cable news in America (except for maybe CSPAN) is nearly worthless, but Fox is actively harmful, and would have been illegal before the Republicans got the FCC regulations changed to allow on-air propaganda in 1987.

69:

I've noticed that US establishments are in the habit of mounting copies of the USA Today above urinals. I assume this is now the main market for the paper.

70:

USA Today is not widely considered a credible news source. It's sound bites for illiterates who can't be bothered to pick up the NY Times, because New York is full of Jewish intellectuals. USA Today is geared towards the sort of people who care about TV ratings and are decidedly uninterested in anything going on in the rest of the world, because that place is full of Muslims, people who speak French and Socialism.

71:

Well...as far as personal relevance goes, Italy violating German sovereignty is a fairly minor topic unless they did it with a flight of bombers and a load of ill will.
If you opened your daily paper of choice and were greeted with an in-depth analysis of the legal wrangling over water rights between Georgia, Alabama, and Florida about water from the Chattahoochee river and the Lake Lanier reservoir that feeds it (Short version- Georgia would like the water for Atlanta to drink, Florida would like it to keep some river ecosystems moist, and Alabama would like to get a share for people now and again) I suspect you'd read it twice to try and sort out why the hell it was in a British paper.
These things do pop up in local papers, along with the usual relevant and boring list of obituaries, estate sales, legal notices, crime reports, etc, etc. Probably could be done by computer by now.

In any case, USA Today prints the news that would have appeal and relevance to anyone in the US without regard to locality and falls victim to the logical conclusion of that- there is no such news.

72:

USA Today is the fast food of newspapers, or maybe more akin to cotton candy.

73:

I'm not crazy about MSNBC either, but I'll consider it equivalent to Fox just as soon as Fox starts giving three hours a day to a former Democratic Congressman.

I assume you're talking about "Morning Joe". All that is needed for that to occur is to find a former D. Congressman who can generate profits. MJ is very profitable. And if not it would not be on the air.

As to Fox being formed to purely be a propaganda arm of the R's, err no. It was formed because it was decided that a hard R point of view could MAKE MONEY. And it does. So it continues. Just like all the news cable channels. If you don't pay the bills with a reasonable amount left over you don't get on the air.

74:

During the 1960's & 70's (and probably earlier) newspapers were owned by people who cared about the news. But they weren't very profitable, and they were, by and large, publicly traded corporations. This made them inexpensive to acquire control over, even if an apparently unwise decision on purely financial grounds.

As someone who enjoyed reading several privately controlled newspapers in the pre 80s/90s I think you've missed some of it. While publicly traded most were effectively controlled by a person/trust/extended family. About this time as profits (little or big) started to fade the private owners had three choices. Prop them up, fire lots of people/friends, or sell out and let the new owners be the bad guys. Almost all took the latter approach. So now you have a lot of mid tier to smaller markets served by a few big chains. With the big boy papers trying all sorts of ways to turn a profit.

Back to Charlie's comments. Do UK papers make a profit selling news or are they just a decade or two behind the economics of the US papers? Is there a UK equivalent of Craigs list that has sucked the profits out of the classifieds over there or was there ever much of a market for such in the papers?

75:

These ratings have nothing to do with Fox News, which is is just a branch of the Fox (and News Corp.) empire. Neither American Idol nor sporting events are shown on FNC, FNC "news" content isn't broadcast on your local Fox affiliate, and Family Guy doesn't grace the National Geographic Channel.

76:

Yeah, Fox News is first and foremost a business designed to make lots of money for News Corp. They saw a gap in the market - other news channels were either local or center/left. It has turned out to be a very nice niche that generates a lot of profits.

For serious news, News Corp has other vehicles in the US.

77:

I went to go look at the Eastern Europe article, mainly because the only news I read for the past six months or so is on politics.hu (it's a long story; look for snarky headlines like "Hungary leads Europe in reforms, says Orbán") and it read like something in a medieval geography, or accounts of the Great Frost of 1683 . . . "Children skating on a river in the eastern city of Zaporizhia made the gruesome discovery of an arm poking through the ice Jan. 29. Authorities cut away the ice to discover a dead man"

As for the rest, well, I used to look at Democracy Now! every day. Now I just click things people send me or that I see on blogs, FB, LJ, etc. I'm sure a shocking number of other people do the same. In my case, well my best friend lives in Hungary . . .

78:

Here's an article that sheds some light on the declining quality of US newspapers: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/02/the-collapse-of-print-advertising-in-1-graph/253736/

79:

"I'm baffled, simply baffled, by the terrible state of the American newspaper"

1. The American Newspaper is a dead medium (period).
2. Of that medium you've chosen THE most banal newspaper currently in circulation ("The Inquirer" has more integrity)
3. Most Americans of moderate means and actual interest in the news (rare) use multiple news websites for updated info. (ap,reuters,google news, yahoo news, etc..)
4. Neither "The Guardian" or the famed "London Times" are by no means that much better. (I've checked)

Next time, Charlie, ask the concierge for the "Wall Street Journal". (admittedly not perfect either). Enjoy your visit in the states.

80:

Yep. What many otherwise smart folks don't get is the newspaper business is about advertising. Writing news stories rarely generates any revenue. Maybe if a story is syndicated but mostly it is just a sunk cost.

Now that much of the ad revenue has moved to craigslist for classified and other web sites for display ads newspapers no longer have a monopoly on supplying ads to consumers. Well a duopoly with TV. If you look up ad spending (not including classifieds) it has been fairly constant over the last decade or two relative to the economy. So each ad dollar spent with Google or another web ad network is one less dollar spent on TV or newspapers.

And all those people who built newspaper empires or just a small town paper back in the day can no longer carry the load with the reduced revenue. So we now get both thinner papers and shared content.

Again, I'm curious as to how this is playing out in the UK. I guess we'll have to wait till the folks there wake up in the morning.

81:

Every thing you read, see or hear in America is from five cooperates. They made things the way they are and like it. I think they want us ignorant.

82:

As David Whiskey points out, the better news is to be had online. The bigger concern is what this means for the people on the wrong side of the digital divide.

83:

As several people pointed out, what you did was to pick up the US equivalent of a British tabloid (minus the breathless sleaze and strong partisan bias). (What's the UK newspaper with the largest circulation? The Sun.)

USA Today has never been taken seriously; it was clearly a lightweight entity right from the start. What was unusual was that it attempted to be "national", when there really were no such entities other than The Wall Street Journal (which is heavily focused on business news). It's useful to keep in mind that the US is a very large country, spanning four time zones (not counting Alaska and Hawaii), which probably helps account for the failure of national newspapers to emerge. Of the locally based papers, only the NY Times has any significant readership outside its home city.

The UK, by contrast, is a small and densely populated country with a single time zone, where a local paper like the Manchester Guardian could actually transform itself into a national paper (given that Manchester is only a little more than 2 hours by train from London, this wasn't very difficult). And, of course, since London is by far the dominant city in the UK, any newspaper based there automatically gets a national stage that has no equivalent in the US.


Or look at it this way: the top five newspapers by circulation in the UK are The Sun, the Daily Mail, and the Daily Mirror, followed (way behind) by The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Express: four tabloids, one serious paper. The top five newspapers in the US are USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The LA Times, and the New York Daily News: three serious papers (yes, the LA Times has slipped seriously, but it still wins the occasional Pulitzer) and two semi-tabloids (USA Today is too anodyne to be a true tabloid).


As for major US papers not covering important news and having the occasional impact -- I would suggest perusing the Pulitzer Prize citations for the last few years before trying to make claims like that. (and I'll note in passing that of the three "positive" cases for UK papers you mentioned @ 32, two of those are purely local UK issues).

84:

I get my news from the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. It is very sad, but fake media informes moer than real media. Charlie, if you don't mind, what is the British version of the Daily Show?

85:

Newspapers stayed relevant in the UK because they were, like a half trained lion, willing to take food from the politicians or bite them, whichever they felt like and whatever the owner wanted.

Plus despite the falls in circulation, they do still appear to be important in the lives of millions of people.

We're having this little thing called the Leveson enquiry here. Finally people are speaking up about the ways the press were in cahoots with all sorts of people to find stories to put in their papers, how they bribed public servants, how public servants were afraid to say anything wrong because either the press would attack them or their political masters would tell them to shut up because a nice compliant press willing to parrot your every press release is a thing worthy beyond gold.

86:

The newspapers are still relevant here in the UK because they sell well and are judged to have an effect on public opinion. Thus politicians want them to be compliant and print their press releases, and are willing to enter into dubious relationships with them in order for that to happen. And pressure groups of all sorts, but predominantly right wing rich ones need them to parrot the party line, which is tax cuts for the rich and privatise government services because it'll make them cheaper and get rid of benefits scroungers because the rich need a tax cut.

(The fact that all the tax cutting and deregulation we did before didn't help things kind of passes them by)

87:

The newspapers are still relevant here in the UK because they sell well

Does that pay the freight? In the US subscriptions and single sales barely cover printing and distribution costs. Advertising pays for the actual content.

88:

> famed "London Times"

Not so much famed as non-existent. It's just The Times.

89:

The UK papers also sell advertising. Not classifieds, so much -- not in the national papers -- but they're still major ad vehicles. What killed the NoTW was the major advertisers deciding the brand was toxic and pulling out ...

90:

He also founded the Newseum. Contemplate for a moment, if you can, the idea of a museum of news.

The Newseum is, in fact, a quite awesome museum.

91:

Regarding the UK, it is also important to remember that the decline in newspaper quality (as judged/ observed by lots of people over the years) began before the internet. It was a deliberate policy by the multinational owners of newspapers to maximise profit in any way possible. Which amongst other ways meant cutting staff, so no fact checking and there's only enough time to chop up a press release rather than ask for evidence; using wire services more and more, which helps the spread of lies and means all newspapers carry the same content, just re-worded. Celebrity gossip is cheap, even if you have to pay a thief to get it for you. Funding an investigative journalist or sending someone to a far off war is expensive.

I'd tell you the book I got the above from, (you can argue with the author about it if you like) but I have a cat on my lap and both the title and author's name escape me right now, I shall recall them about 30 seconds after pressing the submit button.

92:

Can we get the Charlie icon back again please? (Not showing AFAICT. ta.

93:

Is there something in the UK similar to Craigslist in the US which has almost single handily sucked much of the revenue out of "local" papers?

Here in our area where the paper has a base population of around 2 million (maybe 5 if depending on how you count), 10 years ago the Sunday classifieds and most week days were a full section. 10 to 30 pages or more. Now most week days it's 2 to 5 pages. A few more on Sundays. Sometimes. And this is the larger than tabloid size. Where 10 years ago a 3 line 1 column ad cost over $20 for a week.

94:

I agree that USA Today is a pretty substandard paper, but only about 1.8 million copies are distributed per day, and no small fraction of those are free copies handed out for free by hotels, a good deal of which probably pass into recycling bins completely unread. I'm not terribly worried about USA Today's negative effect on the informedness of the American public.

What does concern me is the number of Americans who get their news from local TV newscasts. Many of our local TV newscasts take parochialism and superficiality to a whole 'nother level.

95:

My goodness. You aren't suggesting by any chance that when you see USA Today, you want to throw up? My wife says that all the time about TV news.

We watch a lot of Food Network and Cooking Channel. No one dies, in the competitions ("Chopped", "Next Food Network Stars"), the winners play by the rules, they usually play nice, there is a good product produced, etc. I highly recommend it. Gives you faith in humanity.

96:

No, I know, you're right. The part that got me was the insistence that people who watch Fox News aren't literate. There are probably ways from telling American liberals and conservatives apart, but I doubt it's by their levels of literacy (or if there is I suspect it would fall in the conservative's favour, given the failed educational outcomes for African American and Latino youths in the US). And I think it's cheap to state that people who don't agree with your political stance would only do so because they're intellectually diminished.

97:

It isn't just profit, it's time as well. With the rise of the Internet and cellphones, story quantity is now more important than quality. This Reddit comment describes the situation pretty well.

(ob.disclaimer: I work for a small-town newspaper as a software developer)

98:

Actually, there is a pretty direct correlation in the US between education and political affiliation, and education is strongly correlated with left-leaning. Which is one of the reasons conservatives have claimed for decades (and Santorum claimed last week) that this is because universities are actually Super-Secret Liberal Reeducation Camps.

99:

I've seen studies which show the college-educated are more likely to vote liberal in the US: that's not about literacy.

100:

Ugg, no one really reads that (USA Today) here. Re: NY Times, absolutely spot on, if we were to consume world news solely based on population metrics and not Jewish affairs we might be reading the following: China Herald, The India Gazette, WSJ, ...#97 NY Times.

101:

But -- like them or loathe them -- the British newspapers aren't irrelevant.

You guys are very lucky. I've got a couple British news sources bookmarked, (The Guardian and BBC's website) plus Al Jazeera and Haaretz. I particularly like The Guardian - by US standards it's a very good, and very progressive paper.

102:

I've often thought that the correct response to that was to sue them for false advertising. If they're deliberately untruthful and slanted, it's not news, is it?

103:

You have a talent for selecting the worst America has to offer. USA Today, Lincoln Towncar and so on. Pour yourself a Miller Lite and complete the experience.

I've never seen anyone pay for or read USA Today (The Nation's New Pap), it materializes under hotel doors for no known reason. Ghod knows what their business model actually is.

You couldn't even use it to wrap fish--the ink comes off. The Daily Landfill? Proof that someone really hates trees? Insurance against acute toilet paper shortage?

104:

Black and brown people in America are economic liberals and social conservatives, exactly the opposite of rich people.

105:

Charlie wrote: "What killed the NoTW was the major advertisers deciding the brand was toxic and pulling out ..."

And, no doubt, Murdoch hoping that closing NOTW would make the problem go away.

106:

Ghod knows what their business model actually is.

Putting your ad in from of eyeballs that make much more than the average TV viewer or TV news watcher. So not so many people see your ad but those that do are way above the average in terms of income.

108:

I still chuckle when i remember the Lincoln Towncar

109:

For those who are not from the US or too young, newspapers in the US back in the 60s and into the 70s were mostly used to trumpet the views of their publisher/owner. There were some notable exceptions. New York, Lousiville, Chicago, plus some more. But Washington, LA, and many smaller cities got a very one sided view of the universe. And the national news on TV was only on for 15 minutes each night. So toss into the mix the local TV station news which in smaller towns was many times owned by the same folks as the local news paper and you can see how what we have now is a breath of fresh air compared to then.

When I lived in Lexington KY in the 70s the local paper never heard of Watergate. To read about it you had to subscribe to the Louisville paper. Which it seemed about 1/2 of the Lexington population did.

110:

Your lament is well-motivated, Charlie, {but not new | and you're in good company}. It's been lo these 25 years since Fred Friendly very permanently described USA today as "a TV program you can wrap fish in."

111:

I seem to remember some people getting excited a few years ago about bots that could autogenerate news stories without having to involve a human. (Like an RSS-regurgitator?) I was sceptical of such results, but perhaps if the standard you were trying to attain was USA-Today then it might not be so unrealistic.

112:

Antipope posts I'd like to see:

Charlie's Guide to Trolling. A masterclass in trolling technique, from a veteran of the art.

113:

USA Today is useless. The NY Times is in decline and becoming more and more like USA Today, but with slightly bigger words and a bit less color ink per inch of paper. Krugman is the only intelligent columnist left in the NY Times. The rest are total morons.

So what's not useless? Where I live, the extremely local newspaper, The Highland Villager, provides me and anyone else in the neighborhood with news and analysis on local government issues... the kind of issues that directly affect my life and the kind of government I can actually influence.

The metro-wide rag, the Star Tribune, primarily provides USA Today-like coverage, which is to say, useless.

In some strange sense, the newspaper business is fragmenting. The more specific and small the audience, the more useful.

114:

#42 - Have you ever seen someone being hit by a guy who can do a 12s 100m running near flat out, and not being knocked over by (or even staggering from) the impact? This isn't a particularly unusual occurance in Rugby Union! Still think Gridiron is that much tougher?

#51 - Use the left and right angle brace ("") characters to mark your html tags rather than the square bracket ('[' and ']') characters.

#57 - And? Is this an attempt to claim that because one product is rubbish, no other product from the same holding company can be any good?

General comment on the "Sun" - A mate of mine used to manage a petrol station (US gas station). The company that owned it did a promotion where you got a free copy of the Sun with £6 of fuel. This was a typical fill-up for the local taxi fleet, and he discovered that he literally could not give the Sun away!!

115:

SHORT OF NEWS, Charlie - really?

Try these - where foreign leaders try to threaten Parliament over terroist allegations
(Trafigura writ larger) and contempt of Parliament.

See: HERE
and look up section … “Mark Burby – supplementary evidence”

So that’s another gagging clause buggered, we hope.
Pass it on!

More on this developing subject Here as well

Various comments on the Murdoch press I see ...
and RM (who should, in my opinion be declared Persona non grata in the UK) has cuddled up to Salmond in Scotland. What a pair of lying crooks!

Justin Boden @ 38
Unfortunately it happens to be true ....

Andrew G @ 53
"Wall Street Journal"
YOU WHAT?
It's owned by the Kochs, isn't it?
GW-deniers etc ....

David Whiskey @ 79
The (London) Times is owned, these days by the aforementioned vile Murdoch ---- arrrggghhh!

116:

I just posted.
Being aware of the trap of too many open direct links, I HTML'd them as direction/links.
However, the comment was still "held for approval"
Is this the new system playing up?
And still no avatars ....

117:

The shows most like The Daily Show, that I know, are radio shows, pretty much all on Radio 4. These are The News Quiz, The Now Show, Newsjack, and 7-day Sunday (on Radio 5, I think). All are weekly, and tend to have a lot of long-running gags. As far as television goes, Channel 4 have an occasional show, 10 O'Clock Live, which tries to present a comedic look at the weeks news, but ends up being surprisingly trite. However, I can't recommend The News Quiz and The Now Show highly enough.

The rest of my news intake tends to come first from The Daily Mash, which is like the Onion but more sweary.

118:

So, what you are saying is that there is a lot of information but no truth in USA Today and a lot of truth but no information in the NY Times?

(reminds we of what Soviet citizens used to say about the newspapers Pravda and Izvestia)

119:

Back around the 40s or 50s a old time newspaper man said the only thing that could be trusted in a newspaper was the funeral notices and the baseball scores. There were to many witness to fake them.
not my post
FOX news sued for the right to lie, and won
In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States.
"The But FOX News...is a twenty-four-hour-a-day in-kind contribution to the conservative movement. It's run by Roger Ailes, .... Before he became a millionaire media big shot, Roger was a Republican political consultant...Ailes was the media consultant for President George H. W. Bush. And now he has his own news network. .... And yet Rupert Murdoch has given control of a news network to a right-wing political consultant, and no one says boo. That's because the right has been working the refs for decades.
Under Ailes—the FOX News Channel has achieved dramatic ratings success. It has also been plagued by charges of right-wing bias. As David Brock copiously documents in his book The Republican Noise Machine, former FOX news staffers have been candid and specific about allegations of a right-wing slant. A number of FOX staffers complained to the Columbia Journalism Review of "management sticking their fingers in the writing and editing of stories to cook the facts to make a story more palatable to right-wing tastes
Lest you think these are one-off, isolated examples, Reina revealed the FOX method of controlling the slant of the news: .. executives e-mail a memo telling their producers and reporters, in Reina's words, "what stories will be covered and, often, suggesting how thev should be covered. . . . The Memo was born with the [George W] Bush Ac-ministration, early in 2001, and, intentionally or not, has ensured that the administration's point of view consistently comes across on FNC"

120:

There's no regular equivalent of the Daily Show in the UK. The closest equivalent is 10 O'clock Live which Channel 4 shows sometimes on a friday, with David Mitchell and Charlie Brooker, and a few others i don't pay as much attention to. It has the same sort of mix of satire, standup and interviews as the daily show (which was mentioned as the direct influence).

A Regular equivalent is the 6.30 comedy slot on BBC radio 4, which alternates in a 6 week cycle between The News Quiz (a satirical topical panel show) and The Now Show (a mix of standup, sketch and songs, based on the previous weeks news). Both are consistently excellent, and i recommend subscribing to the 'Friday night comedy podcast' through the BBC's website. It's where I get most of my news...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/fricomedy

121:

You missed "Have I Got News For You"; again weekly, but actually on television rather than radio.

122:

I'm not bothered by the suggestion that $network has a specific bias, as long as they're open etc about it.

123:

And, talking of censorship, where has my post, referring to deliberate threats made against Parliament got to?

124:

The biggest story in Britain last month:

UK Gov forces octogenarian civil servant to keep working indefinitely without pension modification! Shock!

"We gave her a big anniversary do, cake and everything," her manager said. "What do you want? Quite frankly with bugget constraints we don't know if we can afford to replace her with anyone younger. If trends continute, we may have to eliminate the department entirely, truth be told. So she's glad to help out while she can, bless her."

125:

Link 1 is borked for me, and Link 2 makes no sense!

If you have evidence that Wee Eck has actually lied, [cite needed]. Last heard of he was getting a hard time for stating that he intended to keep to a manifesto promise.

126:

Others have described various satirical and comedy shows on the British media. There is no direct equivalent of the Daily Show, but I think the high impact it has had in the US is down to the fact that USians weren't doing political satire before. I'm willing to be corrected on this but I'm not aware of anything of any significance in American television.

In the UK on the other hand we have a long tradition of satire which hit a high point in the early 60s with That Was The Week That Was, and never really went away.

127:

Yes, YouEhSay 2Day ("say what?") is almost certifiably free of the dreaded substance called "news", and has an unbroken record for being so. I'm still trying to decide whether this is the worst of all possible illities, or a blessing in disguise... Recall that one reasonably-competent publishing empire (still with us) managed to hoodwink We The Peepul sufficiently to send us to war against another nation, or Rid The World of dat devil Reefer Madness, solely for purposes of enhancing shareholder value.

Most newspapers hereabout are at best soporific: Faux News still gets eyeshare, USA_T reassures each of us that everything is just fine. They all suck, but at least their master plan yellow journalism isn't up to fomenting all-out bloodshed in and among their followers, at least not all the time.

Much of US journalism oft resembles much of our beer: thin, yellow, mass-produced and fscking close to Water[gate].

128:

"Serious" - the evaluation criterion used by many of the commenters on this thread - is not the same as "relevant", which our host appears to be going by. American papers, even the bad ones, tend to be more serious than British ones; they're also, even the good ones, much, much duller.

American papers typically make - made: the figures may have changed as ads disappear online - about 80% of their money from advertising, and 20% from sales. Many are regional monopolies. The incentives are towards respectability: rocking the boat might scare away advertisers, and the few extra sales it might bring are unimportant by comparison.

British national newspapers are an entirely different tank of sharks. The downmarket, big-circulation ones traditionally make about five-eighths of their money on the cover price; the upmarket ones are about half-and-half. There are nine national dailies - ten if you count 'i', a cut-down, discounted edition of the Independent, separately, and 11 if you include Metro, a free commuter paper that distributes more than all but two of the paid-for titles. Every national daily has at least one direct competititor, aimed at the same sort of demographic. They have to distinguish themselves by tone and point of view - bias, if you're less polite - and they have to provide excitement every day, even the upmarket ones, because otherwise their readers might pick up the next paper along in the newsagent. The incentives are towards outrage and sensation. (Also, at the extreme, towards the sort of horrors being considered by the Leveson inquiry.)

To the extent that British papers remain relevent, it is largely because they're biased, tendentious, campaigning and sensationalistic. They determine topics of conversation even for people proud of not reading them (look at the relationship between British Twitter users and the Daily Mail). They intervene in politics in a way that most American journalists would consider unholy. And they publish stories that the broadcasters, who have far larger and more trusting audiences, are compelled to follow up. None of this implies being fair or serious or ethical: British people read an exceptional number of newspapers and they rate journalists as even less trustworthy than politicians.

129:

There's also Private Eye - fortnightly satiric / investigative magazine which has been going since the '60s. Ian Hislop appears on the above mentioned Have I got News for You, and also on some good documentaries - mostly on social history.

130:

"Serious" - the evaluation criterion used by many of the commenters on this thread - is not the same as "relevant", which our host appears to be going by.

Contrarywise, at least IMO. The biggest complaint I've heard about the Sun is its complete lack of news, unless you consider which fashion label a Wendyballer's wife was wearing to $big_party last night to be news.

131:

Private Eye since 1962. I know cos I was born the same year (but have not been sued for libel as often ;-) ). I do buy it sometimes.

132:
I assume you're talking about "Morning Joe". All that is needed for that to occur is to find a former D. Congressman who can generate profits.

Nonsense. Fox isn't going to put a Democrat on the air for three hours, regardless of how they think he'd do in the ratings.

MJ is very profitable. And if not it would not be on the air.

This is true, and is precisely my point -- MSNBC is willing to put contrarian viewpoints (or, hell, prison shows) on where it's profitable.

As to Fox being formed to purely be a propaganda arm of the R's, err no. It was formed because it was decided that a hard R point of view could MAKE MONEY. And it does. So it continues.

You say that as if the two things were mutually exclusive.

Of course Fox News is a mouthpiece for the Republican Party. Do you think its reporting directly overlaps with RNC talking points by coincidence? If so you may want to have a look at Steve Doocy actually reading directly from the talking points memo last week.

Yes, Fox goes where the money is, and so does MSNBC. My point is that, in Fox's case, that has led to one-sided reporting, and in MSNBC's case, well, it's not great but it's not entirely one-sided, either.

133:

Man, get with the times! Only dinosauroid Media V1.0 types are still rocking the Lipsum...

http://hipsteripsum.me/

[puzzled the hell out of someone looking at my design comps :) ]

134:

"Hipsters" are some kind of freaky-weird American subculture, right?

135:

This is true, and is precisely my point -- MSNBC is willing to put contrarian viewpoints (or, hell, prison shows) on where it's profitable.

So does Fox News. Or at least they did a few years ago when I last saw something there.

But whatever. You know best. I'm obviously wrong.

136:

I think you can also find them in France (flotsam from the post-modernist ebb tide) and Germany. They're actually a subspecies of the Bourgeois Intellectual, descended from a hybrid of the Beatnik and White Jazz Fan varieties.

137:

In my mind, USA Today's greatest crime is its frequent use of some of the most egregious chartjunk I've ever seen. Most of their "infographics" have near-zero useful content; those that do have some relevant information are usually either incompetently or intentionally laid-out so as to mislead the casual reader.

138:

However, The Onion's infographics are extremely informative. Modeled on those of USA Today, too.

139:

They're not uncommon in areas like Hoxton and Shoreditch in London either. Nathan Barley is a hipster.

140:

If he watches gridiron, then he sees that kind of collision - relatively rare in rugby, a few per game - on most plays, but with more strikers per tackle, generally hitting rather than tackling, significantly bigger and stronger on average, playing at one-hit-sprint rather than endurance pace, often both players at top speed rather than usually one relatively stationary, and using pads and helmets for weapons at least as much as protection.

I love rugby. I played it and sometimes I coach it. But the comment that gridiron is softer, or simpler, than rugby really isn't compatible with a knowledge of both games. It's chess with athletes for pieces.

141:

So does Fox News.

Fox News has been repeatedly caught sending memos to staff explicitly requiring that they report issues in terms compatible with GOP rhetoric, as well as distributing GOP Talking Points Memos to writers and hosts to provide content for the show.

They certainly want to make money, but to claim it is either their only or even their primary goal is simply not supportable.

142:

The ratings (as mentioned) are for the network ...

143:

Was checking news items -- real content, not political fluff -- and found this which might be of interest to our host and many posters: Ethics body seeks views on new wave of brain technologies.

(BTW .... they're soliciting input ... ) Selected excerpts pasted below url.

http://www.nuffieldbioethics.org/news/ethics-body-seeks-views-new-wave-brain-technologies

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics today launched a consultation on the ethics of new types of technologies and devices that ‘intervene’ in the brain, such as brain-computer interfaces, deep brain stimulation, and neural stem cell therapy.

These technologies are often being developed for use in the treatment of conditions including Parkinson’s disease, depression and stroke and it is thought they could bring significant medical benefits, especially for those who are severely affected by neurological disease or have a severe brain injury.

Outside of the health context, they could also be used in various military applications, for example to develop weapons or vehicles that are controlled remotely by brain signals. And there are commercial possibilities in the gaming industry, for example, the development of computer games that are controlled by people’s thoughts.

“... These challenge us to think carefully about fundamental questions to do with the brain: what makes us human, what makes us an individual, and how and why do we think and behave in the way we do.”

Clearly, some of these technologies have great potential. ... “The impact on a person and on their mind has to be considered, for example, are there risks of unwanted changes in mood, behaviour or personality being introduced into the brain?”

The development of these technologies for use in warfare may be more troubling for some. “For example if brain-computer interfaces are used to control military aircraft or weapons from far away, who takes ultimate responsibility for the actions? Could this be blurring the line between man and machine?” said Professor Baldwin.

The Nuffield Council inquiry is focussing on technologies that intervene directly in the brain, often through the use of a device, or involving brain implants. The consultation runs until 23 April and the Council would like to hear the views of a wide range of people, including those who have used or are hoping to use these technologies, those involved in development or supply, researchers, academics, patients, medical professionals, regulators, policy makers and others. Responses to the consultation will be carefully considered, and a report setting out the Council’s findings is expected to be published in 2013.

...

Find out more and download the consultation paper.

144:

> The Onion

I've determined that The Onion's accuracy and relevance to current events is at least as informative as the usual mass media, and 99% less depressing.

145:

I'm somewhat shocked that you think FOX being biased makes it in any way different from all news outlets. Every newspaper, radio and TV 'news' show has always had a slant; be it in how they cover stories or simply what they choose to cover. There will always be more happening than can be quickly reported and far more to the various stories in terms of detail, nuance and background than can be covered in the time/space allowed. Disagreeing with the viewpoint some network or editor is pushing doesn't make it somehow more biased than the ones being shoveled out by the folks you agree with.

146:

Before you fall in love with that old "Fox News won a case that says they can lie" story, you might want to find out what actually happened.

For one thing, it wasn't "Fox News." It was a local TV station (a Fox affiliate, with no control from the Fox News organization), and the story is a lot more interesting.

It seems that a couple of reporters were working on a story on bovine growth hormone, and the affiliate didn't agree with the angle they were taking (it was over the top, with not much actual balance). After a bit of argument, the station edited the story to soften the claims in it (fearing legal action by BGH producers). The story never actually aired.

The reporters threatened to go the the FCC and file complaints about "distortion" of the news through the story, and the station fired them. This was what prompted the lawsuit under the "whistleblower" statute. This was also the ONLY part of the lawsuit that succeeded - you can't fire someone who threatens to go to the FCC, even if they're flat-out wrong.

Other national news organizations filed friend of the court briefs agreeing with the local station, by the way.

From the court decision: We also conclude that the Petitioners’ allegations of TVT and Fox pressure in the production of their own, unaired BGH report, and that they would have included additional information in the report absent such pressure, do not raise a substantial question of intent to distort. There is no evidence that any such pressure was applied to the final BGH report. Mr. Lang testified during the employment lawsuit that WTVT’s general manager never mentioned anything more specific about the BGH report than that it concerned "cows and hormones and milk," and that "[n]o one at WTVT ever suggest[ed] that we broadcast anything with known lies in the content."

I other words, even the guy who filed the lawsuit admits that it wasn't about "distorting the news."

147:

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which
owns Fox News, buys The Wall Street Journal? Err, remember him?
"Great Moments In Fox News Dept

If there was any doubt left that Fox News is just a media organ of the Republican Party, then take a look at this screen capture of the National Republican Senatorial Committee's multimedia page. You might think the term "multimedia" would imply that it's a collection of stuff from various news organizations, plus in-house content from the NRSC. It turns out, though, that it's nothing but ... a collection of Fox News video clips. Every clip in the NRSC's "multimedia" section is from Fox"
While FOX News has undeniably succeeded at winning ratings, it has been less successful in actually informing its viewers. In October 2003 the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland (on whose board of advisers sit John Ashcroft's pollster, Fred Steeper, and former Michigan Republican congressman Bill Frenzel) released a study on public misperceptions of the war in Iraq. It found that FOX News viewers were the least-informed, or rather, the worst-informed, of any media consumers. "Those who receive most of their news from FOX News," the study found, "are more likely than average to have misperceptions" about the war in Iraq. The study identified three "misperceptions," a polite term for falsehoods: first, that evidence has been found linking al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq; second, that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq; and third, that world public opinion supported the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. "FOX News watchers," the study found, "were most likely to hold misperceptions—and were more than twice as likely as [viewers of] the next nearest network to hold all three misperceptions."39
Fully 80 percent of FOX viewers believed one of those whoppers. Only 55 percent of CNN viewers did, and just 23 percent of National Public Radio listeners and Public Broadcasting System viewers did. This is not merely a partisan thing, it's a FOX thing.
FOX understands that its viewers use the FOX News Channel the way a drunk uses a lamppost: more for support than illumination. And so FOX offers more affirmation than information."

148:

A short list of ALL the documentation regarding the attempt to muzzle parliament may be found in this (Non-UK based, and therefore injunction-immune) site ...
Try Looking here and following the internal links.

Very nasty stuff indeed.

Hope it works this time!

149:

This new system needs FIXING
I have just posted an entry with ONE embedded link - and it is being "held"
Not good enough, something is obviously borked in there .....

150:

It's chess with athletes for pieces which comment consigns your opionions on sport to the bin marked "intelectual pseuds". Sorry, but I've never known anyone say that if they weren't trying to "look smart" rather than demonstrate a knowledge of $sport.

151:

Greg, Ok I rarely attach links, but I get an odd message dumped into the mod queue for no obvious reason.

152:

Nope, "Hipster" is the name that Marks&Spencer uses for a particular design of underwear. Terribly comfortable, I've been converted.

153:

It ain't gonna get fixed this week: I have to go visit relatives instead.

154:

Enjoy your trip to Leeds (?) then!

155:

That's impossible; one defining charactoristic of a Hipster is that they never claim to be one. Other people may describe them as being one though.

156:

Perhaps random upper case words?

157:

This is the sort of false equivalency that Fox hides behind, and it's nonsense. I've worked in newsrooms. Editors and reporters may have biases, but the ones worth anything actually do work to minimize it. It's never possible to completely remove bias, but there's a big difference between "the reporter has a personal opinion on the subject" and "Here's today's Propaganda Notes from a specific political party, everyone on the air today has to use at least one statement from this in their broadcast." Which is what Fox does, with absolutely no exaggeration at all.

Further, the "left-wing bias" that has been used to justify Fox's existence is also pretty much a myth. A number of studies on the politics of journalists have been done over the years, and the breakdown tends to be that reporters lean left, but the editors and owners (who decide which stories to assign to reporters) lean right.

MSNBC is a partial rejection of this - they actually do have an editorial policy which is openly biased, as Fox does (although to a far lesser extent; they're not getting Talking Points Memos from the DNC, for instance.) However, MSNBC only exists because of the creation of Fox - they are yet another example of the way the very existence of a purposely-constructed propaganda channel is corrosive to real journalism.

158:

I think I said this earlier but maybe not? I don't care that much that Faux News has a right-wing bias, because they're open about the fact.

159:
I don't care that much that Faux News has a right-wing bias, because they're open about the fact.

Are they? I thought they claimed to be "Fair and Balanced" or some similar phrase.

160:

Pretty much everyone I know who knows anything about them realises that they're slightly to the right of Hick Sanatorium.

161:

People being able to see though them is different from them being transparent.

If you have nothing to compare them with, how do you know what there position is?

This is the danger of removing the requirement for balance in TV news. If you have to watch several channels to get a balanced view, that's not going to happen, and people will end up with an unbalanced view.

And the channel which shouts loudest/has the most money will dominate.

162:

Yeah. Plus, remember that many people are less literate than you are.

Any time you want to wonder about the practical effect of Fox News' existence, remember that in the 2004 election, 70% of those who voted for George W. Bush believed we found WMDs in Iraq. (Which Fox claimed repeatedly for years.)

163:

Common factors between "pretty much everyone I know" - They more or less all use the Internet in some form.
They're all human.

Well, that's about it, seriously.

164:

But do they call their girlfriend 'man '?


" I'm Hip " (Bob Dorough/Dave Frishberg)

I'm hip
I'm no square
I'm alert
I'm awake
I'm aware
I am always on the scene
Makin' the rounds
Diggin' the sounds
I read playboy magazine
'Cause I'm hip

I dig
I'm in step
When it was hip to be hep, I was hep
I don't blow but I'm a fan
Look at me swing
Ring a ding ding
I even call my girlfriend man
I'm so hip .... "


http://artists.letssingit.com/blossom-dearie-lyrics-im-hip-92sczsh


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMB5CzzWXMQ&feature=related


165:

Well, now you have known somebody say it when not just trying to look smart. New experiences are fun!

Look. The rest of my post addressed what you said, in some depth. If I were trying to demonstrate knowledge, that would be where I would be doing it. (Actually, I was trying to impart a little, and have a conversation.)

As to the "chess" thing... that throwaway last line is a cliche when it comes to the NFL, yes, largely because it's a pretty good description to those who understand the game. But if it bothers you, why not ignore it and respond to the rest, rather than name-calling?

166:
It's chess with athletes for pieces which comment consigns your opionions on sport to the bin marked "intelectual pseuds". Sorry, but I've never known anyone say that if they weren't trying to "look smart" rather than demonstrate a knowledge of $sport.

I'm not at all sorry to see you out yourself as a fool.

167:

Tangentially related to this thread, I wonder how the UK newspapers will cover the impending privatisation of most police functions in a couple of forces:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/mar/02/police-privatisation-security-firms-crime

I fully expected the Tories to privatise or attempt to privatise the NHS, since after all the new labour 'reforms' it was ripe for the plucking. But to run ahead full steam with privatising the police!

168:

Probably not ..on Private Police that is.

Policing appears in all Local Taxation Bills in the UK England as a separate accountable Item in The Bill ..not "The Old Bill" but as a reference to accountancy.

But policing in the UK is almost as complicated in its politics as is the structure of US of A-vian Cops from State to State. At one time it was perfectly commonplace for a Chief Constable of any given County of the UK to be an Ex Army Officer who had political connections with the Tories and this is reflected in Detective Fiction of The early 20th Century's Golden age Detective Fiction.

US of Americans should bear in mind that, UK Conservative - Tory - politicians do Long for the UK to be Like the US of A .. they do have lots of long-standing social links going back to when UK Aristocrats desperately desired to marry off the Poor but Aristocratic Son to an American Heiress ..oh Joy MONEY!!! ..but, that as a counter to the desire by the Present British Politicl classes for the UK to be more like the horribly aristocratic US of A the present British Voting Populace has grown up with the National Health System that is quite surprisingly comprehensive given that there was huge resistance from the medical profession at its inception .. only the return our forces from the Wreck that was the result of the Second World War to the utterly bombed out wreck that was our cities at the end of that war, and the memories of those who served in the armed forces, and afterwards became politicians of the 'Progressive ' ? stamp made the NHS possible.

Oh, but the horror stories that my parents and Grandparents told me of the - very like the US of A s present day - System that they had before the NHS was instituted in the year that I was born.

The NHS is as close to being a National Religion as we have these days in the UK and the reason that it gets all of the publicity as being under ATTACK just lately is that, well.. my opinion is that it is simply a diversion, a feint,to draw attention from the real attack on social supports that have been hard won in pension rights and social services in the UK...look HERE!! and the knife goes in ..There ! And this after a long campaign against those Idle Scroungers and HUGE family's of the Underclass who are living in a style that HARD WORKING FAMILIES cannot achieve no matter how many super market shelves they might stack ..and these members of The Unworthy Poor live next door to The Nobs in Islington, London ..Oh, The Horror.

Look Here ..

http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com/

A couple of Police Forces up for Privatisation?

Maybe, but it does smell like a diversion ..look ..Nothing up My Sleeves.

169:

Diversion from what? That's the small problem you have to explain.
The NHS attacks are bad enough that they don't need to be a diversion from anything else, they are an attack on our freedoms and lives. At the same time, you are correct they are destroying as much else as possible, I thought people knew that, but it appears we have 1 centre right and two barking right wing parties these days and thus no politics takes place, as well as a captive media that does as it is told.

Rather you should think of these police privatisations as a wedge, which when hammered home will end up with billions of pounds going into corporations pockets and a poor service for the rest of us.
What strikes me is just the sheer insanity of it. Policing is a complex job, and there's no way a bunch of private companies can make a decent hash of it, especially with as you note the complexities of the situation and contracts that would be required. (Somehow the cost of working out the contracts and putting it all out to tender never ends up on the costs of privatisation in the first place)

170:

This was somewhat predictable. Why it takes a couple of hundred comments to vent about Fox News' failings is somewhat annoying.

Regarding the newspapers situation, it's gone downhill, but as has been pointed out the "serious" ones with actual informational content include the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, LA Times; I also read the San Jose Mercury News (the better surviving SF Bay Area paper), Washington Post (cough, with biases understood). Opening the scope wider, the BBC, Al Jazeera at times, Guardian at times, Economist intermittently, etc.

The USA Today is slightly useful - it does accurately say "Hey, something happened" for high newsworthyness events within the country, though one is left with the vague feeling that it happened to vague, two dimensional cardboard cutouts rather than human beings. The sports coverage isn't deep but is relevant to the sports people watch in the US (sorry, rest of the world, we like our US Football with pads and first downs, and our Baseball and Basketball and NASCAR racing). It's good enough that USA Today readers probably know who David Beckham is other than as his wife's husband, although they'd be hard pressed to put "Manchester United" in context (I at least know who Man U are, but have no clue about recent seasons results in European Soccer...).

Would I buy it? Hell no. Will I read it over breakfast at a hotel, when out? If a NY Times or WSJ isn't available, yes.

171:

Also - regarding the decline of the Great American Newspaper...

I'm not sure how to properly measure the decline. If I look back 40, 50, 60, 80 years to older newspapers they seem less professional. Even the NY Times and so forth.

I think we had a golden age, where the economy post-WW-II took off and before the classified ads were wholesale genocided by Craigslist and Ebay. But it wasn't super-mega-great. It employed more people at all levels, including more reporters, but I'm not sure that more == better. There are a lot of very good journalists and investigative journalists now, at the NY Times, local papers, Frontline for TV journalism (and some of the other shows). The papers and TV stations around where I live have dug up and broken big stories about big corruption and abuse. A Los Angeles area TV station was the one to break the story about the City of Bell officials taking ludicrous salaries, for example.

From a consumer point of view, access to news is in a golden era now. Some is behind paywalls, but I can get a hundred different viewpoints (many of which did their own work and aren't just republishing the Associated Press story) online for free. It does require that one be open to looking for the news and looking to sources that I don't agree with, but the latter is frankly a modern survival necessity.

Keeping your mind open and getting multiple viewpoints is ultimately the key, I think. Why, yes, I read Soldier of Fortune, but I also read Mother Jones. What's it to you? Why aren't you reading both of them as well 8-)

172:

And a poll of 957 US citizens in late 2011 showed

- 26% believe that Iraq had WMDs just before the Iraq War.
- 16% believe that WMDs were found in Iraq.

173:

Alright, somebody's gotta do it.

Charlie, por favor. Snarking on USA Today makes sense, although you're being silly with the first headline. (All countries cover local sports as big news.) But snarking on the New York Times?

I can't find the front page for February 3rd, which the date of the newspaper you cited. But here's February 25:

"U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb." That's certainly news.

"Nations Press Halt in Attacks to Allow Aid to Syrian Cities." Ditto.

"Branding a Soldier With ‘Personality Disorder’." Opening line: "The case of Capt. Susan Carlson has raised questions about whether the Pentagon uses a psychiatric diagnosis to eject troops it considers troublesome or to deny them benefits." I assume that you don't have a problem why this is a big story. If you think it's not, I would very much like to hear it.

"Auto Workers Tap Network for Obama." This is an American paper, covering American politics. It is news that the UAW lives as a political force.

"Rents Keep Rising, Even as Housing Prices Fall." Massive news, for those of us who live in the country. The analysis wasn't bad.

"Web Deals Cheer Hollywood, Despite Drop in Moviegoers." Alright, this probably didn't belong on the front page.

"Teacher Quality Widely Diffused, Ratings Indicate." This a New York story about an ongoing issue in city politics.

It is a fine paper, written for an American audience; in fact, it's still aimed at a New York metropolitan audience. It could have covered the Brazilian slavery story, or put more on Egypt ... but that is not clear cut.

I object to your unfounded aspersions cast on the paper of record.

In seriousness, Charlie, there is a line between serious criticism of the state of American news media, which is awful, and gratuitous snark. Comparing the New York Times, which is better than any British paper that I know of (with the exception of the Financial Times) to the Yorkshire Evening Post crosses that line. It's misleading, unfair, inaccurate, and ungenerous.

From whence the anti-Americanism?

174:

Having an editorial bias is one thing. It's usually an ad hoc collection skewing in one direction but having some of the usual outlying positions we all have, but still geared towards trying to be as accurate as humanly possible.

FoxNews, as has been documented time and again, have no desire to be accurate. They have on several occasions shamelessly lied, ignored inconvenient facts and just made shit up to further a partisan agenda that just happens to be identical to one of the two ruling parties of the US. This goes far beyond the NY Times supposed liberal agenda or even the Washington Post's tepid Conservative spin.

175:

The "debate" between gridiron and rugby must end. Let's look at the raw material: if Brandon Jacobs or Brian Urlacher grew up in Perth, they would be really good rugby players. If some $Elite_Rugby_Guy grew up in Bitter Creek Falls, TX, he'd be a really good gridiron player. Both cohorts use the same strength training regimens, the same cadre-building exercises, and the same selection process for elite teams. All these guys are very fast, very strong, and extremely aggressive. The specific ruleset that they play in is secondary.

Charlie, check out "Democracy Now", "On the Media", and "le Show", podcasts that offer an alternative to and critique of the US corporate media.

One of the biggest things to consider about American newspapers is that they're dominated by hegemony and the big publishing houses have been fighting a 30 year war against the unions that produce, print, and distribute their rags. There is not a single major daily that is union-friendly and this is reflected not only in their editorials, but in their content choices.

176:

The newspapers have always sucked. After WW-2 people came home and wanted to do it right. All kinds of right in all kinds of ways. They are old and dead now, things are back to the good old days. Almost all the papers did what they could to help the Republicans. Look up the things that were said about FDR, Harry Truman and anybody who was not with the in crowd. It was never anything good. We remember a few stars, but only a few. Now the owners know people like Murrow are dead and are working hard to make sure no more come up. THE WASHINGTON POST was covering for Dick Dix till one of his people said something bad about its owner. If he had been more polite Nixon would be one of the most honored presidents. Nobody else would say anything bad about him.

177:

In all fairness, a chunk of my beef with the NY Times is their tone, which is so equivocal that at times it rises to the level of an Onionesque self-parody: Beheadings Raise Doubts That Taliban Have Changed

178:

Why I just go to the NYT web site.

I used to read the hard copy, which did have pretty good national distribution.

Could try the BBC I guess.

179:

But at least the UK Pap has Page 3 girls...

180:

But where I live they DO get their news from FOX at best; The "Local" Paper is only good for Razorback Sports... (Statewide monopoly). You literally can not buy a New York Times in WalMarts home town.

Think About it.

181:

I was trying to be optimistic on the " .. That's the small problem " Problem.

It looks as if my Theory on Diversion by Political Conservative focus on NHS ' Reform ' as a diversion from Destruction of Public Funded Services that I knew of and had been following with interest will have to be modified.

I am a Public Services pensioner and do draw an index linked pension - now linked to CPI from its former RPI link - that is now being made 'Affordable ' for future pensioners by our present government in the interests of Interest of The Well Heeled Kind, who would like to see modern incarnation of " The Servant Problem " resolved in their favour ..low taxes for the Rich, what can be wrong with that? It Trickles Down Eh, Wot?


" Christine Frederick, The New Housekeeping (New York: Doubleday, 1926), 155–180.The New Middle-Class Housekeeping: “How I Keep House without a Maid” after studying with me the new ideas of efficiency and scientific management applied to the home, a friend of mine who employs a maid tried out the efficiency ideas which I have explained in previous chapters. She standardized her household tasks, she made schedules for the maid to follow, she gave the maid the right tools to use in the kitchen, and in every way applied the “new housekeeping” in the work which the maid did for her. After some preliminary difficulties in getting it applied, the housework went on as if done by magic, and the smooth-running way in which her home was maintained delighted my friend beyond measure."

http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5301

From the several news reports that I've read since your post, and the BBC Radio news report as of this morning whilst I was waking before Leaping Forth to Greet the New Day ..well something like that .. it looks as if that limited, " A couple of Police Forces up for Privatisation? " that I mentioned so lightly may well be a pilot project for the entire English/MAY be British Policing system that will see all civilian police support organisation sold off to private security organisations.

Of course its a process of negotiation, and so ' Warranted Officer ' functions will probably be retained in Public Service as a concession but the underpinnings of public services in police work are being undermined as they are in, say, local government.

http://www.northumbria.police.uk/foi/disclosurelog/answer.asp?id=43224

Lots of room for. privatisation in all of those above mentioned posts

Oh Bugger!

182:

EVERYTIME I travel for work I book at a hotel that leaves this media abortion splattered outside my door. Everytime I tell them to place don't make me, or some poor housekeeper have to scrap this waste from the floor to keep it clean. Even to attempt to "read" it is painful when you imagine people that actually consider it's contents "news".

183:

and I'm accused of false comparisons here?
FOX - as compared to CNN, NBC, CBS etc is every bit as guilty of terrible reporting, bias, fear-mongering and outright falsehoods. They have a revolving door policy with Republican staffers, think-tanks, backers and so on...just like the other 'news' outlets on TV have with the Democrat side. It's hard to miss unless you are deliberately ignoring one side or the other.

I'm not defending FOX here, but the selective outage is annoying. You'd have to spend a whole lot more time than I think it is worth to me trying to sort out who had told more whoppers over the years. How do you gauge the magnitude of a lie or assign a degree of dismal to horrid coverage all around? How many financial contributions and think-tank pundits equal a White House press secretary etc?

Newspapers in the US as a whole fall into a completely different category; that of irrelevance. Outside of a few metro markets they are tiny and largely ignored. Purely as an anecdote, more of my circle of friends read British papers online than read American ones in any form. The circulation numbers for the 'big' papers demonstrate this pretty well.

184:

The business hotel I go to most often charges for USA today. There is this incredibly obscure warning during check-in page that your bill includes 75c for the paper, and you can opt-out if you want. Trying to opt-out is amusing because the receptionists have just no idea what to do.

It turns out, so I read, that this is done so that your paper can count as paid circulation. Prior to this, advertisers were complaining that delivering a free paper to someone who didn't necessarily even pick it off the ground was not what they wanted to pay for. But now, since you can opt out and get your 75c back if you are alert, receiving the paper counts as a _choice_.

185:

I hate when people get to the heart of the matter clearly and succinctly like that. Well said!

186:

The thing is every single American frien of mine actually does use the chess analogy. It's not fair to call it pseudo anything it's just how they see it and themselves.

I'll watch Gridiron and frankly if they removed the TV induced breaks I'd watch more. I just get bored watching it. It's more fun live.

I have converted a number of USians to rugby though but they are both sports with merits. And to agree with Rick that's a valid headline in a national US news paper. I suspect strongly that Rangers fiscal problems have have had a lot of front page coverage in Acottish papers and coming up to the FA Cup there will be front page coverage of the game in even The Guardian.

187:

Fox News is actually worse than the other outlets you cite. It may be too much effort for you to do more than wash your hands, but other people have put in some work.

Here's a recent study from the University of Maryland, but there are others. Ask Google! This study found that MSNBC and NPR are the least bad of the cable news channels as far as imparting basic facts.

The sun and a stove are both hot, but one is hotter than the other. Shrugging and refusing to accept that there are differences in degree is just lazy.

188:

Pie charts! USA Today has always been about pie charts. It's as relevant as Theweek.com - pick 3 newspaper or blog posts that cover the American spectrum of liberal-moderate-conservative - so as not to offend anyone - but with colorful pie charts!

190:

Agreed on the tone! There's an irony there, which is that tone, in all its solemn ridiculousness, is what many people think has gone wrong with today's media.

I guess sometimes you can't win.

191:

@Charlie

""Hipsters" are some kind of freaky-weird American subculture, right?"

A lot of people are under that impression, but in reality "hipster" is just an insult. Nobody self-identifies as a hipster. It's not a culture. It's just something you call somebody who says "I liked that band before they were cool, now that everybody else likes them I don't."

192:

Believe it or not, "USA Today" is not the worst paper in the country. That dubious distinction goes to my local rag, "The Daily Oklahoman", of which it has been said that lining a bird cage therewith would insult the bird.

193:

USA Today isn't really much thought of as a credible newspaper; it's more of what you read when sitting on the crapper just in case you run out of the white stuff that comes on a roll.

Wall Street Journal is definitely a newspaper, although their focus is mostly financial interest, once they get onto a subject, they can be very in-depth indeed.

The Washington Post has its moments. While hardly all-encompassing of the full globe, it's a good resource for the US-centric view of global politics and international relations. I have to say that they have one of the finest obituary staff anywhere, and I've seen them do a very creditable job of covering Nobel Prize winners and other scientists as well, not merely giving the particulars of birth and death, but often offering cogent explanations of why their work matters.

Most major US cities have at least one worthy paper that gives good, if often brief, coverage of the national and international news. Unfortunately, the important is often pushed aside by the trivial (usually in the local-news section), and both can be pushed aside by the advertising copy when all are competing for space on a limited number of pages.

Specials

Merchandise

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on February 29, 2012 2:05 PM.

Brief outage was the previous entry in this blog.

Room 101 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Search this blog

Propaganda