The im­por­tance of news­pa­pers

Lodi News-Sentinel - - OPINION - Email me at durlyn­[email protected]

Greet­ings from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia where I’ve spent an in­ter­est­ing three weeks in good weather (some­times a lit­tle hot!) and the usual South­ern Cal traf­fic. When a news sta­tion said the worst traf­fic in the U.S. is in the Los An­ge­les area, I wasn’t sur­prised nor should you be.

Of­ten I say that while it was great to grow up in San Diego, I’m also grate­ful I no longer live there. Mine were the days when we could get a park­ing place at the beach at noon. Now you have to be there by 9 a.m. — 8 a.m. prefer­ably!

The Carls­bad area was my first stop­ping place and the weather was pleas­ant but not too warm. The beaches weren’t that crowded ex­cept on the week­end — and how nice to breathe the salt air — be­fore get­ting back on clogged road­ways!

Yes, it was hot in Palm Desert where I stayed for a week, but I stayed in a place where the pool was right out­side the door so could cool off of­ten. A fas­ci­nat­ing part of the way peo­ple live in that desert is mis­ters. If it be­comes too hot while sit­ting out­side on a pa­tio and not in the pool, the home­owner turns on the mis­ters. A cool mist fills the air and sud­denly the 100-plus de­grees fades un­til one can sit com­fort­ably and read or talk. Un­for­tu­nately, the heat lim­its the time you can walk any­where — mean­ing walk­ing is done early in the morn­ing.

My fi­nal week was spent in the place you’ve read about pre­vi­ously — Ven­tura. Here the weather was to­tally pleas­ant — slightly cool in the morn­ings but still warn enough to wear shorts for a walk. Best walks are at the beach where miles of beach beckon. What I dis­cov­ered — again — was that na­ture was still at work. In May I found a stream between a la­goon and the ocean. Now that stream is gone and the la­goon is quite full with birds ev­ery­where. That’s one thing I’ve learned about na­ture — it is in charge all the time no mat­ter how much hu­mans try to con­trol it.

——— Soon I’ll be back to the re­al­ity of our con­stant news. This 24-hour news spin isn’t the best for any­one be­cause now jour­nal­ists are con­stantly search­ing for the next big item — and let’s face it — we need a rest from all this once in a while, don’t we? I know that some of the big news head­lines that burst over my phone leave me won­der­ing who they’re talk­ing about!

My sec­ond ma­jor was jour­nal­ism, but that was back in the “good old days” when news re­ally was news — and we even had some good news once in a while. Oh, that good news didn’t al­ways catch at­ten­tion like sen­sa­tional news but it was re­fresh­ing.

This brings me to the cel­e­bra­tion by the So­ci­ety of Pro­fes­sional Jour­nal­ists of its 110th Birth­day. Their lat­est pub­li­ca­tion traced the his­tory of Amer­i­can jour­nal­ism from 1690 to the present, then ex­am­ined the fu­ture. The So­ci­ety was to­tally male un­til 1969 when 70 women joined and have been a lead­ing force in the So­ci­ety since.

I wasn’t aware of women’s late ar­rival when I joined in the 1980s but un­der­stand women’s frus­tra­tions be­cause of my fe­male ex­plor­ers of the early 20th cen­tury who couldn’t join ge­o­graphic or­ga­ni­za­tions.

All of us see the quickly chang­ing jour­nal­ism of to­day with lo­cal news­pa­pers rapidly dis­ap­pear­ing to the detri­ment of lo­cal gov­ern­ment. While lo­cal news broad­casts now ei­ther are be­ing tried or are be­ing con­sid­ered via dig­i­tal news, right now com­mu­ni­ties are less in­formed about their lo­cal gov­ern­ment — a big con­cern for our demo­cratic process.

And, hon­estly, I’m ap­palled that so many peo­ple get all their news via their phone. Ed­i­tors and spe­cial staff have al­ways de­cided the best news sto­ries for the front page, but re­main­ing news is in the rest of the paper. Hope­fully all those pieces were ob­jec­tive in na­ture. Not quite the case with the news you re­ceive via phone and in­ter­net.

One ar­ti­cle in the So­ci­ety pub­li­ca­tion ex­am­ined the fu­ture of jour­nal­ism pre­dict­ing that ar­ti­cles will be writ­ten by free­lance jour­nal­ists serv­ing not only news­pa­pers (which may be a thing of the past) but dig­i­tal news, so­cial me­dia, search en­gines and news ag­gre­ga­tors. (Please un­der­stand that news­pa­pers are em­ploy­ing fewer and fewer re­porters.)

The fi­nal ar­ti­cle was by a young col­lege woman who said she gained her in­for­ma­tion on news­wor­thy events from an on­line source or so­cial me­dia, never a news­pa­per. (And she’s a mem­ber of the stu­dent sec­tion of the So­ci­ety!)

En­joy read­ing this news­pa­per while you can!

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