F-L-U-F-F Does Not Make News

Early Thursday morning, after fasting for 12 hours, I sat in a medical clinic to take a glucose test.  After consuming a special glucose laden drink I needed to wait for two hours to have my blood drawn.  Considering I drink black coffee with no sugar on a typical morning the lemon lime drink they offered  was a rude way to start the day.  I read newspapers while waiting for the sugar high to stop nauseating me.  (In the end if didn’t, but that part we will leave off the blog.)

The first paper was the Wisconsin State Journal, which I normally read online, as I cannot fathom paying for it, given how far their journalistic standards have slipped.  The paper has now been designed to attract a younger audience that did not grow up in a newspaper reading culture. 

Thursday morning the front page had a local columnist discussing the appearance of Pakistan’s president as a guest on the “The Daily Show.”  The editor actually took up a portion of the front page with this fluffy item, which went on to lament the fact that younger people are getting more of their news from shows such as Jon Stewart’s!  I am not making this up.  I can’t be the only one to see the irony in this.

From the front page I looked at page two, and no longer will need to wonder what pop culture looks like if it puked in the paper.  People Magazine shrunk into news columns only made my nausea worse.  This is the morning paper from the Capital City!!!  While I have known for a long time that the new editor had been trying to energize the paper with new ideas and readers, I can say I am not a fan of this way of producing a paper. Adding more color and graphs for visual stimulation is not my idea of a newspaper.  Shorter stories with less meat to emulate USA Today are not a goal any paper should aspire towards.

(Madison is a rare newspaper town in that we have both a morning and afternoon paper.  If both did their job as newspapers once did this could be one incredible newspaper city!  While the State Journal has a conservative editorial page, the afternoon Capital Times has a progressive Op-Ed perspective.  The Op-Ed pages from both papers are really the best (only) portions that are daily reads online.)

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is a much more weighty paper with state coverage that has depth to its reporting.  While I know there are streaks of GOP partisanship in their reporting of certain topics, I find the coverage overall to be basically fair.  I also consume enough news products that I can see what is wheat and what is chaff.  

However, the biggest example of ‘fluff’ in the news world this week happened with Newsweek Magazine.  The international version of the publication has a military pose of a fighter in Afghanistan on the cover with the powerful headline,  “Losing Afghanistan.”  The story deals with the botched military policy that is allowing Afghanistan to again become a haven for those who did harbor individuals that WERE involved with 9/11.  (That means our troops in Iraq are where the problem wasn’t located.)

But in the United States Newsweek had as their cover story Annie Leibovitz’s photos of celebs……..

Good Lord!

It is for these reasons that I subscribe to both The New York Times and the Economist magazine.  For years I have just given up on the crap that the media so often hands out as news.  The BBC and NPR/WPR provide other avenues we turn to for solid news and information.  The world is in such a predicament that FAUX News and their allies do not cut it anymore.  (Well, here at our home they never did.)

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