For decades, pretty much from the time I could read, I was a daily newspaper reader.
Our family had morning and afternoon papers delivered: The Worcester Telegram and The Evening Gazette. (When I was in high school, and changed buses down city – which is what we called downtown in Worcester – there was a newsboy hawking papers who would repeatedly holler ‘Final Gee-zeh-eh-ette. Final Gee-zeh-eh-ette.’ Fifty years on, I can still hear that ear-piercing voice.)
On Sundays, we augmented the Sunday Telegram with a couple of the Boston papers, The Record-American (for its sports pages), The Herald (or was it The Traveler?) and, at some point, The Boston Globe. These my father bought after Mass at the Sunday newsstand set up in front of our church. I only ever remember one person running this newsstand, and that was my somewhat older second cousin Jimmy who, I believe, manned it throughout his high school and college days. (He went to Holy Cross.)
I remember thinking that it was the height of sophistication to read a big city paper, even one as crappy and lurid a rag as the Record-American.
In college in Boston, I was a regular Globe reader (although probably not every day). In my one grad school year in NYC, I read The Times and The Post, which in those days – the early 1970’s – was the progressive/liberal for the city.
Back in Boston, I was back with The Globe, daily and Sunday, and, off and on, The Sunday New York Times.
I did this for years. Decades.
Then the Internet happened, and I started getting my daily dose online.
This worked fine for as long as the free content on boston.com (an online something-or-other run by The Boston Globe) pretty much paralleled the paid content on bostonglobe.com. Okay, you didn’t get all the columnists, but, as a news source, it was fine.
Over time, however, the content on boston.com got worse and worse. It’s not quite the level of the Daily Mail, but it’s a screamer, with some of the most idiotic (and appallingly written) news articles imaginable, lots of AP stories (at least readable), and links to articles from crapoid sites like Newsmax.
For one indication of the journalistic level of boston.com, it’s worth looking at a recent headline having to do with a college student who was run over, while lying in the road, in the wee small hours of New Year’s Day.
Here’s how the more journalistically mature and high-minded Globe treated this story:
Student killed by cruiser had been drinking, Cape DA says
Here’s how boston.com framed it:
Student run over by Cape cop was drunk, high
Worse than the terrible content are the terrible comments.
Racist, misogynist, sexist, jingoist. Name that ‘ist’, and I can guarantee it shows up in the comments section on boston.com.
Now, I’m not expecting the online comments to be the second-coming of The Essays of Montaigne. Still…
Whatever the article is about, there’s a brigade of commenters who manage to bring it around to an attack on the president (or, by proxy, our outgoing governor Deval Patrick, who – no coincidence in terms of the venom sent his way, is African American, and has a lesbian daughter to boot.
Unleash the furies!
But most of the viciousness is directed to Barack Obama. Or, as the boston.com commenters would have it, Obongo. Obama bin Laden. Obola. Obammy.
Call him Dear Leader. Call him Barry. Call him Obamessiah (which is actually pretty good).
But most of the names that get tossed around are racist at the core.
Not funny. Not clever.
I’d hate to see the comments that get removed, because the ones that are published are doozies. Sometimes they’re so awful that I come away believing that they were written by misguided liberals trying to make conservatives look bad.
(Not that there aren’t nasty lib commenters. But they’re a) in the minority; b) are more likely to take nasty shots at the GOP or the Catholic Church than they are to froth out with racist, misogynist, jingoist rants.)
But I guess the hairballs with nothing better to do than heave up ridiculous comments are also ‘eyeballs’ that help goose boston.com ad revenue.
And so it goes.
But, as no doubt was The Boston Globe’s marketing strategy all along, I eventually got sick of the sucky content on boston.com, and got sick of letting myself get sucked into reading the sick an sucky comments.
And so, as of New Year’s Day, I am an online subscriber, paying $3.99 per week to have The Boston Globe at my fingertips.
So I’m back to being a daily newspaper reader again, more or less.
I feel better already.