Sunday, August 19, 2012

#38 - Following the News

It's an oddity of the area where I live that you cannot pick up television stations without either a cable subscription or a satellite dish.  Since I know I wouldn't spend much time watching, I don't bother to pay for either of those options.  I also despise listening to talk radio and spend very little time just surfing the internet.  So, sometimes I feel like I'm in a bit of a news vacuum - especially when it comes to national and international events (with local things I'm usually ahead of the curve due to the number of city meetings that I attend as part of my job).

So, with this goal, I tried to correct that problem as well as accustom myself to using my new Kindle for reading.  I set myself the parameters that I had to read all of the articles in the e-version with the exception of the sports section.  The two days that I missed on my Kindle (I was out of town at a wedding), I went back and read in paper form later.  I also tried to read as much of it as time allowed before I left for work - most days this was about half - to see if I felt more informed in my daily conversations.

Kindle vs. paper format - hmmm...  It was interesting to see when I dealt with the daily papers coming through the library what the e-version of the paper left out despite both being a paid subscription to exactly the same paper.  I was prepared (from reading reviews of e-subscriptions) to not see the comics, horoscopes, stock reports, etc - I did not expect that actual full articles would sometimes be left out.  Some of these are included in the Sunday paper at the end/beginning of the week - why?  I didn't see an option to only receive a Sunday paper, so it didn't give the Sunday editions extra value.  I'm not really sure why articles in the variety section (especially those dealing with fashion) did not include the photos they were explaining while other e-articles had stock photos (often reused) not included in the physical format.  I did like the fact that reading the articles did not involve flipping back and forth through several pages in a section.  Overall, I am less than convinced that the evolution from print to e-versions is finished - the regular variety columns (comics, etc mentioned above) could be included as easily as a photo and more photos overall could be included plus the reused (and purposeless) stock photos could be eliminated.

The news ... it's been about 20 years since I read a daily newspaper regularly.  I feel like news reporting has changed a lot since then.  There are many more articles regarding the daily lives of celebrities (I use that term loosely to include athletes, political figures, entertainment figures, etc) than I recall - all in the news sections, not variety where I would have expected to find them.  If I wanted that sort of information, I would read People magazine.  There is much much less science news than I hoped - I still find some specific internet sites to be the best source for this.  The lack of science reporting makes me a little sad because I find it to be one of the most hopeful, exciting, and relevant areas of change in our world.  I found that articles on international news tended to come in clusters about a topic and then the topic would disappear with no concluding story (I think this stems from a reliance on larger news aggregates for this type of information) which is a little disconcerting.  The biggest surprise was the business section; a part of the paper that I had never paid much attention to in the past.  I found a large amount of actual relevant information here when reading closely that explained price changes I'd noticed in stores, informed possible changes that I might make in the way I travel, and many other life areas.  I won't overlook this section anymore.

Feeling informed ... I have many casual conversations with people as part of my day.  I was curious to see if, after starting this goal, I felt more informed about things people might bring up.  I did feel more informed and sometimes I would refer to something I had read, but often I was the one who made the connection, not my conversational partner.  This part of the goal seemed to be more a personal benefit than a conversational one.

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