Another opinion: Newspapers are boring!

Posted on February 23, 2005 
Filed Under Uncategorized

Following up on yesterday’s opinion that papers are struggling columnist Phil Luciano theorizes:

“… everyday newspapers are boring. That’s why people don’t read them as much anymore.

“Publishers are in denial about this. They say people are too busy to read newspapers. I say people are too busy to read boring newspapers.

“Newspapers once heaved and gasped and screamed with the intensity of the cities and people they covered.

“Not anymore. Today’s reporters are dullards.

“They have college degrees. They’re book smart. That’s good.

“But they treat reporting like a cubicle-dweller at IBM. They wait for news to happen: an agenda out of City Hall or news release over the fax.

Forgiving Hunter S. Thompson his advocacy of drugs and penchant for hyperbole, Luciano says what the suicide writer had was “an eye for detail and clarity – both often missing in newspapers.”

As I tell students, Thompson at the core was a reporter. He actually went out and talked to people – interesting people.

He wrestled the weirdness around him and shoved insight down the reader’s throat. In “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72,” he cuts through political poppycock:

‘There is no way to grasp what a shallow, contemptible and hopelessly dishonest old hack Hubert Humphrey is until you’ve followed him around for a while.’

“…in Hell’s Angels Thompson jumps into the same rumbling seat of the man-beasts in the outlaw motorcycle world:

” ‘With the throttle screwed on, there is only the barest margin, and no room at all for mistakes. … And that’s when the strange music starts, when you stretch your luck so far that fear becomes exhilaration and vibrates along your arms. You can barely see at a hundred; the tears blow back so fast that they vaporize before they get to your ears.’

“You don’t see such picturesque penetration anymore.”

Luciano says it wouldn’t hurt if reporters these days:

“…get out of the office – endure a little smoke and stink and underbelly, be it a City Hall back room or low-rent bar room.

“Reporters could take you readers along for an eyeful and earful of vivid candor. You might like the change.

As Thompson once said, ‘I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.’

Link from Romenesko.


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