Recently, United Airlines gave me the opportunity to subscribe to a few magazines with my paltry frequent flyer miles rather than have them expire. You remember magazines, don’t you? Folded and stapled sheets of glossy paper with words and pictures on them?
Anyway; one of the magazines I chose was Time. It has been a cornerstone of American journalism for decades and I remember fondly pouring through it as a kid looking for items for my current events class. You remember current events, don’t you? It was time when elementary school kids could talk about the actual news of the day and learn critical thinking skills.
I’ve been getting my Time for a few months and I’m very sad. It is no longer a news magazine. In fact, I’m not really sure what it is, and I am a little suspicious that they may not know what they are either!
The most recent issue has the Orlando Massacre on the cover. It’s a black cover with each of the victim’s names and ages printed in white. When it arrived yesterday I settled down to read the in-depth article. There were 12 pages devoted to the story, some making large use of photos. In the middle there was an opinion piece on the importance of Gay bars as safe havens through the years. I say it was an opinion piece because there was no beef there, no facts, no history. It was just some guy’s opinion.
Anyway, I read all 12 pages, and you know what? I learned NOTHING I didn’t already know. And most surprising was that I got most of what I already knew from FACEBOOK of all places!
I’m not complaining. I’m just recognizing that the world has changed. There really is no place for a standard news magazine today. By the time the damn things are published, they are out of date. We’ve already gotten it from television news or any number of websites or . . . .well, FACEBOOK.
Which is not to say that there isn’t a need for a real news magazine, one that would take an issue and examine it from several points of view, that would aim at the kind of critical thinking we were trying to develop back in fifth grade. I believe there is a need for such a thing, but I also believe it would never fly in our world of tang-instant information. We slobber down the banal because we don’t have time for anything more substantial. We consume ‘news’ very much like we consume chicken nuggets from the drive thru window, without a thought, without a purpose.