Flash! We're Keeping News Alive

Right off the get-go I need to make it clear that we're not keeping the news alive by making it. If we are, please don't tell me because I don't want to know unless it's in a private message. When I talk about news, I'm talking about broadcast news on television, radio and the internet. We can't forget newspapers... magazines, newsletters and so many other ways that news is sent our way.

Who are the grand consumers of news? We are. We listen, watch and read. In fact, we are keeping newspapers alive because people under the age of 50 don't seem to find them as important to their lives anymore. About 85% of people over the age of 65 watch television news but they top the charts, representing more than 48 percent, of newspaper readers. Old folks also love television weather channels for a reason I have yet to understand. Give me time, I'm just turning 70.

I'm a newspaper person. I spent my life bringing news to small communities. The beauty of the weekly newspaper is that it connects the people who live in rural areas and gives them a common ground. They can find out about the things which are important to their lives... nothing more; nothing less. If they want national news, they watch television or take a daily newspaper, which will connect them to the rest of the world.

Ironically, while millions of people are spending billions of dollars each day to tell you their version of the news, at least 63 percent of you get your news from friends and family. There is a small, isolated group of folks out there who don't get any news at all. I can't imagine that world and I doubt you can either. This may be a volunteer opportunity for some of us “newsy” types.

Yup. We come in “types”... some of us really don't care about political news... we want sports, entertainment or medical news. Others want all political news, all the time. Most of us choose a news organization that we trust (ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS) and then stick with it. We are very loyal in this way. Whether it is local or national news, we prefer to see the same faces each day. These folks become part of our lives. We are weary of trust issues. We're old. We need truth... or as close to it as we can get.

Our days can get pretty dull but we always know that the mail, newspaper delivery (if you have a daily newspaper) and televised or radio news will help us by bringing new information into our lives.

My grandmother was 92 when she died. From the time she was in her late 70s she threatened to do so but when it came to the real end, she asked me to cancel her subscription to The Oregonian. That is how I knew she was really going away. She couldn't live without that newspaper which had been such an important part of her life for so many years.

When I was little, we got in bed with her on Sunday mornings to hear the comics. When I was old and visiting her each day to see if she was OK, she would have a pile of clipped articles for me to read. Crosswords were done each day and because she was a perfectionist, she kept a worn dictionary by her side. She was a “newsy” kind of person.

Not all people are this way. There are many people in our tribe of Geezers who don't care about news anymore. A lot of us never did. Newspaper subscriptions aren't cheap and not all of us had the time or resources to sit down and watch television news as the years went by. We are also least likely to watch news on our computers. Perhaps we've just become tired of news. In our lifetimes, it is after all, the same kinds of events with different titles.

There are many of us who LOVE what is called “fake news”... this is the stuff of the magazines and tabloids we see while checking out at grocery stores. If the giant headlines catch our eye...we're in. We'll temporarily believe that an armadillo took a car on a joy ride. This “news” is also available on the internet in abundance. In fact, if you think up the weirdest thing you can think and Google it... you'll probably find it on the net.

Finally, the most ever-lasting source of news in our world is us. We share bits and pieces of information with each other and our families and friends. We sometimes make mistakes but rarely mean to. Not all of us are “newsy”... some of us just like to sit and dream of a better world, or pretend we're in one, without any input from reality. So far I've resisted that...though it's starting to look pretty good to this “newsy.”

*Thanks to the Pew Research Center, Journalism & Media, The Modern News Consumer, July 7, 2016.

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