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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.

2 Responses to “Newspapers: Writing On The Wall”

  1. Tim Martin says:

    Not entirely moribund!! – The Museum (closed but still there) is still producing hot metal matrices, but there is a real and present danger it may be buried alive!
    Have a virtual visit at http://picasaweb.google.com/TypeMuseumSociety/TypeMuseumOpenDay
    Please support our fast growing one month old petition at 10 Downing Street to stop the removal to storage of this internationally unequalled collection http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/typemuseum/ & for non-uk supporters http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/typemuseum/signatures.html
    The forum for active supporters is http://groups.google.co.uk/group/TypeMuseumSociety/
    Help us save this typographic treasure. Thank you
    Tim Martin

  2. Thanks for the link. Shouldn’t this be on the museum home page?
    I don’t subscribe to petitions, at least not electronically. I’m not convinced politicians listen (sometimes rightly; too many people sign too many things they don’t understand; the doctors persuading large numbers of people to sign up against polyclinics was a sorry bit of self-interested scaremongering e.g.) and I think a letter likely to have more impact anyway.
    There are other courses of action than soliciting government handouts. If you created a blog widget with HELP SAVE THE TYPE MUSEUM and a link to an online donation you might raise some money or even encounter a philanthropist. Your web page provides no background information that would inspire anyone to take any action. Time to get the lead out?

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