Is It Worth Reading a Newspaper Anymore?

Almost exactly a century ago at the great naval battle at Jutland, David Beatty said “There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today” after two of his battleships exploded under German gunnery and incompetent seamanship by his sailors.

Well, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody newspapers today as well.

The New York Times runs an editorial on “The NRA’s Complicity in Terrorism,” but the Orlando mass murderer Omar Mateen isn’t a member of the NRA. He is a member of the Democratic Party, who voted for Obama twice, and worked as a subcontract security man for Homeland Security under Obama appointee Jeh Johnson.

The New York Times professes total confusion as to Mateen’s motivation, while the same day Senator Charles Johnson, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, described how Mateen had made over 16 calls in the four hours after the shooting inside The Pulse, while the police outside were presumably trying to decide who ordered the pepperoni and who the anchovies on their pizza while victims bled to death inside. Several of Matteen’s calls were specifically pledging his loyalty and service to ISIS, speaking to law enforcement at 911, and he made several postings of the same pledge to ISIS on his five accounts on Facebook.

Meanwhile The Wall Street Journal helpfully offers what it calls “a primer” headlined “Assault Weapons Explained.” Such a feature could have been most useful with all the intentional confusion in terminology introduced by progressive politicians if their reporter had the least idea what he was talking about.

I tried to help the Journal with a Letter to the Editor:

I am the former Commanding Officer of the Army Marksmanship Training Unit at Ft Irwin CA. That is our National Training Center. We know a little bit about “explaining” various weapons.

First your reporter: ‘The guns generally identified as assault weapons are semiautomatic rifles that operate on the same principles as semiautomatic handguns.’ If he means ‘generally identified’ by those with political agenda including opponents of the 2nd Amendment from Obama to Clinton etc., and almost every media figure around including your reporter, well yes.

But weapons experts totally disagree. It’s so elementary even ‘a primer’ should get it right. ‘Assault weapons’ are weapons that allow automatic fire, which specifically the AR 15 is disabled to prevent. Hence the AR 15 is not an assault weapon.

It sure LOOKS scary though. And in an age in which Orwellian ‘redefinition’ of reality by the artful redefinition of words has become an art form for politicians and media people, what does it all matter anyway?

As a working journalist, sometimes published in your paper, I can assure you it matters to those of us of the old school. Does it still matter to you?

I didn’t get an answer and they didn’t run the Letter, but they did run a whole editorial presumably to clarify the previous mixup.

This got it wrong again. So I sent them this:

You got the description of the weapon used in Orlando wrong in the ‘Assault Weapons Explained’ news “primer.” Now you got it wrong on the Editorial Page.

In an Editorial today called ‘An Assault Rifle Education’ It says: there are ‘10 million AR 15 rifles like the one used in Orlando.’

The Washington Post said 2 days ago: ‘The gun the Orlando shooter used was a Sig Sauer MCX, not an AR-15.’”

And that is The Wall Street Journal… not some Extreme Left house organ like The New York Times.

Perhaps that explains the remarkable study by the Poynter Institute showing a huge and continuing fall off in newspaper circulation.

Newspaper declines accelerate, latest Pew Research finds, other sectors healthier

The 13th annual Pew Research State of the News Media Report documents another year of alarming declines for newspapers — the worst since the 2008-2009 recession.

Other sectors did much better, with revenues actually growing robustly both for cable channels (up 10 percent) and network news (up 6 percent for evening shows and 14 percent for mornings).

Cobbling together newspaper data that is less current and available than it once was, Pew estimates that the industry lost 7 percent of daily circulation in 2015 and 8 percent of ad revenues.

Which makes perfect sense to me. What good is a newspaper if what it contains on the statistically biggest shooting of Americans by a murderer in history is dead wrong, and has to be corrected to even make sense of it? Newspapers were where all the wild reporting and rumor mongering used to go to die. One could expect to find early TV and radio reports inaccurate and be relieved to find good summaries and time lines in the paper.

Now thatThe Washington Post actually carries in a lede: “President Obama said in an interview that future instability stemming from climate change can lead to ‘dangerous’ ideologies.” I’m even afraid to trust the weather forecast.

As a former executive at The New York Times Company in another century, another millennium and another world, I have a stronger obligation to good journalism. Let them die. There isn’t enough decent reporting left in them to be worth resuscitation. Time to find new ways with new media. And at this point we don’t have much choice