I am reading the New York Times. In my father’s opinion, it is overdue. Of his three children, only my sister Amy has shared his dedication to the paper. Ever since 10th grade, when my sister realized she could outguess what our social studies teacher would opine about next from the pages of the times, she’s been a daily reader. My elder sister, Julia, was once a frequent reader, but as adulthood’s burdens encroached on her mood and anxiety, she has abandoned the paper for more escapist avenues of infotainment. As for me, I have long preferred my news piping hot from someone I know. That is, I am ashamed to say that for most of my adult life, I have been using social media as my primary news source. I wait for people to react in outrage or amusement or disbelief, and it is with a helpful dose of humanity and pure bias that I ingest the day’s events.
I will say, this has led, yes, to the erosion of American democracy, but also a wonderful sense of superiority to the newspaper. After all, why wait until the Times has a new edition to find out what the president has tweeted? I can just go to twitter. Why wait for the Times to report on the tragic death of a young black man at the hands of police? Facebook live is already at the protest. Verification takes time, and time, well…this is the 21st century: who has time?
It would be nice (it would be publishable!) if this were a story of me learning to love traditional journalism. The fact is, I continue to get my information fresh from my peers on social media. I go to the New York Times for variety. You see, the twitter stream, the facebook timeline, they’re dull. All information, jokes, complaints, poems, outrage, cruelties, acts of love, acts of terror, they all have the same formatting. As Mcluhan taught us, the medium is the message, and one tweet looks much like another, whether it comes from president or proletariat, the same mind numbing bursts of writing. So I have turned to the Times for some variety. A modern love story is illustrated differently than an obituary. Photojournalism essays stand out in stark pictures, one from the other. Articles vary lengths. I am enjoying the leisure of the bourgeousie before his paper, the grand stroll through the world as it exists today. I have come into my inheritance as a New Yorker. I am reading the New York times.