Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pump Up The Volume

Will I pay to read the NY Times online?  Of course not.  I've been boycotting the Washington Post for a year and to tell the truth, I haven't missed much.  Do the reporters deserve to get paid?  Of course, especially when they do their job.  And let's face it, for the past twenty years they haven't.  They've been going after ratings, not reporting the news. Or, as the saying goes "if it bleeds, it leads".

For some reason the Fourth Estate sold its soul for access.  Not to report the news, but to make the news and they, along with the "candidates" they've chose to "represent" us, have pretty much destroyed everything this country was founded upon and held as a shining beacon of freedom to the world.

Not that I enjoy sounding old, but when I was a kid the remote control was whoever Dad asked to change the channel.  Usually between NBC and CBS until that upstart ABC started to become popular, and if the picture was too snowy you fiddled with the rabbit ears until there was a relatively clear picture.  And if it got snowy when you moved away, you got sent right back to hold it into position until the show was over.  You got to put your arm down during the commercials or if the picture mysteriously got better.  All for the price of the television.

When I was twelve we moved to Lompoc, which received one station and that was from Santa Maria.  Fortunately there was this thing called cable and for about six bucks a month we got much clearer stations and some of them were from Los Angeles which was a couple of hundred miles away.  And they showed most of their stuff in color.  With less roller derby.

Then Showtime came along.  Dad loved it.  He said it released us from the puritanical beliefs of the few who thought that fun was illegal. I think it was because he enjoyed watching those girls(1:48 is when the guys watching start hyperventilating) do the exercises.

Now it costs me thirty dollars just to get the basics on television.  Due to technology and the old television dying, I pay extra for HD because HD televisions look better that way and now that everything is digital they get me for the SyFy channel.  What a racket.

After I left home and joined the Army I lived without television for many years and didn't miss it.  I watch more of it now because it isn't safe to walk at night in most neighborhoods, movies are ten dollars at the theatre and most local libraries have either closed or cut back their hours and their varieties of books.  Which leaves the internet.

I've been using the internet regularly since I got my first computer back in 1996, an IBM Aptiva.  I originally had a 28.8K modem, followed by a 56.6 that I installed later.  I (as in me) upgraded the RAM twice as well as increasing the 75 Pentium processor to a little more than 200.  I was one of the first in San Diego to get cable and couldn't understand why it wasn't available to everyone.  I still remember watching Princess Diana's funeral on cable and marveling that it was only a few seconds behind the broadcast networks.  Then I got the bill.

I now pay $57.99 for internet access and I refuse to pay for Showtime or HBO on television (thank you Netflix!) because I already pay more than enough for the less than ten channels I actually watch, why would I pay more for content that other countries enjoy for much less?

Once I discovered the internet, my interest in books took a back seat.  For years nobody had ever seen me without a book and all of a sudden books were history.  Television news, which was rapidly becoming infotainment was watched rarely, if ever.  The internet had everything and it was much faster with a greater variety than newspapers which left my hands dirty. No more dead tree editions for me.

Online I read Canadian, British, German, French, Israeli and Chinese newspapers, foreign newspapers do have English versions. Even al-Jazeera had been known to print true journalism, unlike some of what passes for newspapers here in the states.  The United States press long ago ceased to be über alles, but the citizens don't know it because news is as censored as if the sixties editors of Pravda were running today's news organizations.

So why would I want to pay to read the NY Times?  Or any other paper online?  I don't, and I won't.  The last time NY went behind a paywall, that experiment didn't last long and cost some of their best writers their readership.  Newspapers are once again getting the stupid idea that if they hide their content behind a paywall that bloggers will disappear and people will start reading the papers again.  I would love to have had some of the drugs they were passing out at those meetings.

Citizen journalism isn't going to disappear, it will be enhanced by people who are actually interested in getting the unfiltered news to a starving public and don't need millions of dollars to do it.  It won't be long before someone starts a channel devoted to news around the world, not what Fox and CNN think are the important news around the world delivered by bobbleheads that can't speak for themselves without a wire attached to their ear.

Will the NY Times miss my money?  Probably not for a while, but just like the Titanic, hubris goes before a fall.  Or obsolescence as the case may be.  Then they'll try to shut down the internet, which I doubt the young people will put up with for longer than a day or two.  Has anybody paid attention to the furor when Twitter goes offline?  Imagine if the the whole internet crashed and it wasn't the result of a war or natural disaster.  Kids may not think that protesting the war, torture, or elimination of the Bill of Rights are important, internet and cell phone access is a whole different kettle of fish.

And to show that this isn't really such a radical idea, Christian Slater long before he was forgotten.



  1. Very well written. Great job!! i loved reading your post, I will be sure to bookmark your post and come back for a re-read.