Tuesday, April 28, 2009

All the news that fits

Can The New York Times still be the national newspaper of record? And does that even matter anymore? The paper's motto is "All the News That's Fit to Print." That's much different than today's news model, which seems to be "All the News that Fits."

Take Twitter: 140 characters. That's it. Of course, many people cheat by including links to (gasp!) longer messages. But the whole point of Twitter is to answer the question: What are you doing? To which I reply: Who needs to know? Anyway, now that Twitter has been co-opted by marketeers and politicians, will the public move on to the next cool (and, I hope, lengthier) communications vehicle?

Brevity can be an art. Smith magazine is the self-billed "Creators of Six-Word Memoirs." After asking readers to summarize their own lives in a single sentence, they published the results in Not Quite What I Was Planning. Clever, but not as complete as Ernest Hemingway, who once wrote this telling story in six words, "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn."

I like a quick read as much as the next guy, but sometimes less is just, well, less. Less filling. Less satisfying. Less engaging. The standard excuse people offer is, "Well, you know, nobody likes to read anymore."

C'mon. People like to eat fried foods, snack on ice cream, drink alcohol, and sit on their butts watching TV. That doesn't mean it's what we should do. Instead, we try to watch our diets, add more fruits and vegetables, cut down on portion size, walk the dog, and get to the gym.

Tweeting may be fun now and then, but give me something worthwhile to read--something I can sink my teeth into--and it will kick around in my head, generating new thoughts and ideas, for years to come.

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