By Caitlin Kelly
Tonight marks the end of a 125-year-old newspaper, The International Herald Tribune.
As of tomorrow, it becomes the International New York Times:
It also became a symbol of US expatriates, with actress Jean Seberg playing an American who sells the paper on the streets of Paris in Jean-Luc Godard’s influential 1960 New Wave film “Breathless.”
It settled on its current name in 1967, after the New York Times and Washington Post took stakes in the paper following the collapse of the New York Herald Tribune.
It expanded globally and is now printed at 38 sites and distributed in more than 160 countries, with a circulation of about 226,000 in 2011.
Few news consumers today even read a newspaper in its printed version and journalists are feeling that pinch; in 2008, 24,000 of us lost our jobs and many of us never found another.
Data from Pew Research Center for the People and the Press on trends in news consumption released last year suggests people are assembling along separate media streams where they find mostly what they want to hear, and little else.
Fully 78 percent of Sean Hannity’s audience on Fox News identified as conservative, with most of the rest of the audience identifying as moderate and just 5 present as liberal. Over on MSNBC, conservatives make up just 7 percent of Rachel Maddow’s audience.
It isn’t just politicians that are feeding their bases, it is the media outlets, as well. The village common — you know, that place where we all meet to discuss our problems, relying on the same set of facts — has shrunk to the size of a postage stamp, surrounded by the huge gated communities of like minds who never venture into the great beyond. …Another layer of self-reinforcing messages may be having an impact.
As Eli Pariser described in “The Filter Bubble,” search companies rely on algorithms to predict what users want to see based on past clicks, meaning that users are moved farther away from information streams that don’t fit their ideological bent….The skillful custodians of search can produce what Mr. Pariser describes as “personal ecosystems of information.”
To take that one step further, think of your Facebook feed or your Twitter account, if you have either. When you pick people to follow, do you select from all over the map, or mostly from among those whose views
on culture and politics tend to align with your own? Thought so.
I read The New York Times daily; the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times on weekends. I watch almost no television talk shows — I find endless argumentation, punditry, opinionating and spin a waste of my time.
I’d rather (and do) read a really smart, incisive, insightful book — like the three studies of the American economy I recently read: The Price of Inequality by Paul Stiglitz; The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti and The Price of Civilization by Jeffrey Sachs.
When I want to try and understand a complex issue, and I often do, I don’t want partisan BS. I want as many useful, quantifiable, objective facts and data points as possible. Yes, I want some analysis and context. But I don’t want a worldview tilted so far to the right or left that I feel misled.
I read, and enjoy WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan, even though her politics differ from mine. She’s just damn smart.
I sometimes read The Guardian (more to the left than I am), and admire its righteous zeal. I listen to National Public Radio and the BBC (both leaning left, I realize) and sometimes watch BBC News. But only on BBC do I hear “news” about corners of the U.S. long before any mainstream media lumber over.
What media sources do you rely on for your understanding of the world?
Radio, television, blogs, newspapers (online? in print?), magazines, books?
Do you consume media from beyond your nation’s borders? What and why?