Thursday, February 3, 2011

Does more always mean better?

Monday marked a major event in the history of America. My daily Philadelphia Inquirer cost a dollar for the first time in my life, raising the price a quarter per day. I've had a daily newspaper (or two) delivered to my home every day since I was a kid. It's only now that I have begun to question the wisdom of it.
Many years ago, I thought people would give up smoking when cigarettes began costing a dollar a pack. Now that they are over 7 dollars a pack, I not only question smokers' decisions, but my own perception of how intelligent cigarette smokers are. I am certain that there are cigarette smokers who think I'm a dope for paying a dollar for a newspaper.
They're still a bargain, the newspapers. On a monetary basis, they provide hours of entertainment and we are free to choose to read all of it or none of it. But they have lost some of their clout because the immediacy of the Internet has rendered some (or all) of their content as irrelevant as the evening news broadcast. We sit at work or at home and read the headlines on our computers a day before they are reported in our daily newspapers.
When I think back on my childhood, I marvel at the idea that the news we got was either seen as immediate by being broadcast on the six o'clock news or relatively immediate by appearing in the next day's newspaper. Either way, we were happy to be able to see reports from Vietnam on television or read about yesterday's non-televised baseball game in our Evening Bulletin sports section.
I wonder how much we suffered and what ill-informed boobs we were because we didn't know about something that happened during our lunch hour because our friends didn't post it on their Facebook page.
Maybe what we have now is information overload or the result of what some refer to as the "24/7 News Cycle." Whatever it is, I don't know if we are happier now because we know something immediately than we were then when it took a day or so to find out something. The only time we knew something immediately was when a president was shot or a spacecraft exploded. Now, we know that one of the Kardashians is on a diet five minutes after she puts it on her Twitter page. Is more information necessarily better?
When I was a kid, the evening TV news (and TV in general) was free and the evening newspaper was ten cents. Now, cable TV, Internet service and cell phones are costly bills we pay each month.
Are we getting what we are paying for?


Kcoz said...

Are we getting hat we pay for?…YES, defiantly!
In the old days with limited access to information one was subject to false advertising by the corporations who sponsor such news reports and newspapers. A shotty car dealership would never be investigated by the local news if they were a sponsor of that news program. Now days that dealership can be researched and find opinions expressed by actual customers, giving one a more truthful description.

As for comparing cigarettes to a newspaper I don’t see the similarity. Tobacco smoking is an addiction to nicotine. And the cigarette manufactures know this as to why they manipulate the nicotine content. The higher the content the more cigarettes one will smoke to keep their own levels high, and the manufactures can charge as much as they like for this addiction. Since smoking tobacco products has become less attractive and less are smoking, this manipulation of the nicotine levels combined with the higher prices keeps the profits at the same levels with less smokers. Did you really expect the tobacco companies to make less of a profit today compared to the 50’s and 60’s? Their MO was to keep the existing smokers smoking more at higher prices. It they outlawed tobacco right now you’d see a new breed of criminal, robbing and stealing just to get their fix of nicotine, just like the heroin addicts.

A good movie to watch about this is titled “The Insider”, staring Russell Crow and Al Pacino.

Maybe the newspapers are doing the same thing here, charging more to their habitual readers to make up for their loss of customers to the Internet and 24-7 news shows.

Anthony said...

I'm not so sure we're that much better off than we were in the 1970s when we got our news from TV and the next day's newspaper.
After all, what do we have to do with any of it? All that is required of us is that we are informed of what has happened. The immediacy is only a product of the technology, and does not change the impact of the events.

All of that for the fees and service charges involved, and I don't think we are that much better off. When you compare the hundreds of dollars (add it up) to the benefit, it doesn't equate.

Anthony said...

If you want to compare what "local news" does, take a look at their broadcasts. They are filled with promotions for the network programs and courtesy reports on things that are either locally connected or connected to the networks.
Local news is 80% free advertising. It used to be actual news. Shoddy businesses were always a part of "Action teams" around here. Perhaps your area wasn't included.

As for the cigarette/newspaper comparison, the addiction is the same. It is only the health benefit that is different.

Kcoz said...

I think it is a benefit is some ways. I was having problems with my car alarm going off for no reason, I search the Internet and found a website dedicated to my style car. There they had information about consumer problems for that style. I found a link to the car alarm problem written by a mechanic, complete with photos where he walked me through the problem. Turns out it was a small dap of grease in the steering column that caused the spark to jump from the ignition. I fixed it in about four hours. That Internet solved problem would have cost me about $400 to take it to a dealer.

As for the 24-7 news, most of it is bullshit with worthless stories to fill time, but when there is an event like what is happening in Egypt, I than appreciate the up to the minute coverage. I guess it is like, it is there for when you need it as most stories one can wait to read about.

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