The weary traveler returns with two pressing questions: First, if Santa Monica is this beautiful, and it is, why doesn’t everyone live there, forsaking the 105-degree hell of a North Texas August? And second, why aren’t Abbot and Costello’s stars together on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? Why should they be two blocks apart? It defies reason.
When I’m away for any length of time I always have my newspapers held, which means I have to “go through” them, which means I have to ask why I’m going through them, especially in light of something I noticed upon returning from a trip about 15 years ago: If you burrow into a daily newspaper even a week after its news was news, you quickly find that perhaps 90% of the info has no lasting value.
Just to pluck an item from the stack nearby, for example, I find that a big section of the I-30 highway was closed for two days while I was gone, news which even when new would have meant nothing to me.
My point? The I-30 item was there because the newspaper is mass-casting, broadcasting to a huge undifferentiated audience in which some chunk of readers will in fact care about the I-30 shutdown, just as surely as many other readers will be indifferent to it. What holds this audience together, besides worship of the Dallas Cowboys? Some degree of concern about things that happen in the big D/FW population corridor between the Red River and Waco. The narrowcasting made possible by the Internet–blogs, RSI feeds, podcasts, ideologically friendly websites, etc.–stands in sharp contrast to the big-tent approach of the dailies, and based on the continuing string of layoffs at shops like The Dallas Morning News, the narrowcasters of the Web look to be winning the fight.
Tomorrow or sometime soon: Why we might soon pay extra to have less “news.”