I wondered briefly this morning how my time is distributed between newspapers and books, the Internet and TV. I was reading a book and keeping an ear on the Andrew Marr show, BBC TV’s Sunday morning political offering. It’s worth a look for its hand-picked selections from the Sunday papers.
Mr. and Mrs. Potential Voter hissed simultaneously at Marr’s stand-in this morning to shut-up and let Vince Cable speak at one point. The urbane Dr.Cable is a former chief economist for Shell and one of the sanest and most likeable people in British politics. Likeable because he’s quietly spoken, intelligent, and not normally part of of the tweedledee and tweedledum pantomime traditions of right and left, not because he is a “nice” fellow.
It will be a pity if he is chiefly remembered as the man who marked the beginning of Gordon Brown’s downfall with his jibe about Brown having gone from Stalin to Mr.Bean (YouTube); Like Mr.Bean, it grows less funny with each reaquaintance–I will not be surprised if a plane is hijacked by someone who finds being locked up again with Mr.Bean at 30,000 feet insupportable)
I preferred this anonymous little poem, said to have originated in the cabinet office a few months ago:
At Downing Street Upon the stair I met a man who wasn’t Blair He wasn’t Blair again today How I wish he would go away
Undoubteldy, the order of priority in which I imbibe my words is on-screen, in print, and on TV. And radio may be ahead of TV–I listen to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 most mornings.
It’s printed newspapers that are going away. The past week has seen a journalist move from The Telegraph to a blog, which is writing on the wall if ever I saw it.
Increasingly, I don’t even look to see what’s on TV because it’s so rarely worth the trouble. That said, there will be some good stuff on Darwin over the next year, starting tomorrow with Dawkins on Darwin. It might be possible to watch this on the web at Channel 4 online.
Meanwhile, The Sunday Times, one of the still-profitable newspapers, has just been redesigned and now uses colour throughout. I don’t like it much. My attention span when reading newspapers has fallen anyway; it really doesn’t need pandering to, needless stimulation, “helpful” colour coding and other visual gimmicks–like yellow highlighting (help!). Just good content. It’s the RSS and web effect, I think, on both of us. I’m so used to scanning, making little contextual sidetrips–following links, that is–and then deciding if a story is worth my time and attention. WHERE IS THE GOOD STUFF?! (here’s some).
However, I don’t think much of the Sunday Times’ web site. It has too many links to old material. In fact, it doesn’t really have a web site; it just rebrands that of the The Times on a Sunday. Usually, by the time I get the paper, I have already read the online version, and moved on to the New York Times.
I’ve suggested that we stop buying the Sunday Times but the sudoku player in the family who does the puzzles in the free evening London papers is too attached to paper.
London is a city with a rich newspaper and typographical history and one of my SOMEDAY list items was to visit the London Type Museum, said to be London’s most hidden museum. Alas, it’s now closed and the Type Museum Society seems moribund. This ought to be an opportunity for someone to put something on YouTube.
My own selection from the papers:
Simulating Age 85; from the New York Times
Where have all the real men gone; from the Sunday Times
Mothers who breasfeed other people’s babies; from the Sunday Times
All by American writers.
The simulation exercise described in the first story is something everybody should do before leaving school. The second is hilarious and overdue. Finally, I didn’t see Ariel Leve’s column (third above) on paper this week, but the advice she receives online usually makes up for it.