Sunday, January 02, 2005

Life without the Miami Herald. Years ago, when Macon was in middle school, we bribed the kids into giving up TV. We promised that, if they could do without the television for six weeks, we would go to Disney World. (My parents sweetened the pot by promising to give them each $75.) After a week or two of withdrawal pains, we all coasted to that great trip to Orlando. When we got home, there was no clamor to turn the tv back on. Instead, the kids wanted to know where we were going to go after the next six weeks. The back of the TV habit had been broken.

One thing I remember about that event is how quiet the household became once the TV was off. The TV, as Carol remembers, was "like a presence". We banished that presence. The world became more peaceful.

About two months ago, our Miami Herald subscription came up for renewal. We were not happy about the Herald's coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor with the way they covered the Presidential election. For years, the Herald has promoted the homosexual rights agenda. Its sports pages were negative and often simply silly. Everything wrong with "Main Stream Media" seemed to be wrong with the Herald. So we decided not to renew. Carol wrote a letter to the Herald explaining why, after 32 years of startng the day with that newspaper we were quitting. (The Executive Editor, Tom Fiedler, sent her a letter in reply that was thoughtful and considerate and, finally, unpersuasive.)

I feel much the same way about not having the Herald every day as I did about turning the tv off many years ago. I missed it at first, but I miss it less and less. A lot of noise in the background of my life has gone away. I can sense a bit more peace in my life.

We do buy a Sunday Herald at the news stand. Carol likes the coupons and the ads. Buying it on Sunday also confirms for me that we made the right decision. The lead headline today is an example of the paper's dishonesty. The headline reads "Transit taxes can't meet pledge." Above the headline is a smaller one that reads "Herald Watchdog". What a joke. The article states that the 2002 "sales-tax-for-transit" campaign, which was supposed to fund a needed MetroRail extension, will not produce nearly enough revenue. The Herald was a huge supporter of the sales tax increase that was the point of the campaign. I voted for the increase, despite knowing what a corrupt local government we have. Searching today's article, I saw no explanation about where our journalistic "watchdog" was while we we were being sold a bill of goods.

As I understand it, newpapers across the country are losing suscribers. The pundits blame the internet, among other alternative news sources. But they need to go a little bit deeper than simply the idea of an alternate media outlet. On the internet, one frees oneself of the local MSM monopoly. If the Herald were to wake up, it might have a chance to rebuild its readership. But I doubt that's going to happen.

No comments: