I too preached that gospel of gloom and doom, even pontificating abroad by giving speeches in Athens and Oxford about anachronistic print journalism.
Yet today newspapering is a healthy business. Sunday newspapers are fat, bulging with advertising stuffers. Media giants like Comcast, New Corporation and Time Warner are glowing, surpassing Standard & Poor’s average share price.
“CBS is up a whopping 40 percent,” David Carr, media columnist reported in the New York Times. “The sky over traditional media is blue and it’s raining green.”
Yes, the print edition of Newsweek magazine died last year. The U.S. News and World Report, another weekly news magazine, now focuses on college and hospital news. But other print weeklies like The Nation are thriving because of broadened availability.
The Nation’s liberal message is available in a dozen digital platforms in addition to the print version. It can be read on Zinio “newsstand”: Facebook, smartphone and Kindle Fire. One of The Nation “stars” has a national television show.
Moreover, a lot of codgers like me want print editions of newspapers and magazines. They are easier to read. Also, you can cut out articles to save or send.
Boy Scouts bending?
My debt to the Boy Scouts is immense. It taught me to love nature, the marvels of wildlife and concern for the environment.
It also gave me the lifelong passion for bird-watching. To become an Eagle Scout, it was then necessary to include bird study among the 21 required merit badges.
As for Boy Scout anti-gayism, homosexuality was beyond my ken as a youth 60 years ago. Today I know it is rank discrimination unworthy of Scouting ideals.
So it is wonderful that the national Scouting board is about to abolish its gay bigotry. Homosexuals can also be excellent Scout leaders.
Next: abolishing Scouting’s anti-atheist bigotry. Atheists can be just as ethical and moral as kids with religious affiliations.
Israeli bias tottering
The Israeli religious state is suddenly being confronted by talk-show host, Yair Lapid. His Yesh Atid Party (Hebrew for “There is a Future”) scored a stunning success in recent elections to become Israel’s second largest party behind the ruling ultra-conservatives.
Lapid rightly complains that the ultra-Orthodox are “not sharing the burden.” He wants to remove their draft exemption and shift the balance of who pays taxes and who gets government aid. He seeks to end the outside influence of ultra-Orthodox in the public sphere, including gender-segregated buses and rabbinical control of marriage, divorce and adoption.
No truly democratic country would tolerate such measures, measures as strict as sharia law enforced by the Taliban.
As one Israeli woman said of her vote for Yesh Atid: “I am so tired of the ultra-Orthodox grip on this country.” The ultra-Orthodox have 10 percent of the Israeli population but the power of a super-majority.
A New York Times reporter in Israel observed: “Buses have stopped displaying ads of people because portraits of women were constantly vandalized. Religious soldiers boycott military ceremonies where women sing.” Lapid also urges same-sex marriage.
His is a fight for the soul of Israel.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.