The Future of Print
John Branston's column "The Future of Print" (November 20th issue) about whether newspapers, particularly The Commercial Appeal, can survive in the Internet age, brought to mind why newspapers can and will survive, despite shrinking revenues.
First, newspapers offer readers the first draft of history. Creative, nosy, professional journalists give depth, gravity, and experience to news reporting. The information most newspapers print is accurate and fair.
In newspapers, readers find a wide range of opinion and analysis on a variety of political and social issues. Reading intelligent writing on a regular basis broadens readers' minds, giving them a more worldly, sophisticated perspective. Reader feedback in the letters to the editor section provides a sense of community and a snapshot of public opinion.
Citizens cannot consider themselves well-informed if they do not read newspapers. As Will Rogers famously said, "All I know is what I read in the papers."
Regarding Chris Davis' story about the troubles at The Commercial Appeal ("Old Reliable," November 27th issue): I believe this situation is a self-fulfilling prophecy by the paper itself. In its zeal to cut costs, it has become a shell of its former self, literally and figuratively. The CA has not only shrunk in size, it has less news and more "feel good" pictures of little Johnny's schoolmates. There is less coverage of sports, more corporate sponsorships of news columns. They have eliminated long-time favorites in the comics and cut delivery to save on costs.
Why don't they just put everything on the Internet and be done with it? Farm out the news to bloggers, the advertising to India, and, lo and behold, they have a profitable business. The handwriting on the wall is clear: Value your "hard copy" newspaper. It won't be around much longer.
I'd like to address "The Rant" by Tim Sampson in the November 27th issue: While I appreciate his eagerness to give his point of view on gay marriage, as a gay man myself, I'd rather he kept it under his toupee.
This is a civil rights issue. It is unfair for anyone to be treated as a second-class citizen or worse. Sampson wrote — after a barrage of silly and ignorant observations about what a gay man's domain might look like ("expensive shit," "sculptures and stuff," and "throw pillows that cost a fortune") — that if gays were allowed to marry, our weddings would "fuel the economy like wildfire."
So, Tim, what if they didn't? Should people be less in favor of legalizing a civil right? Is it "all men are created equal," or all people who can help our economy are equal but the rest of you are out of luck? I find it just as backward to be "allowed" a freedom because of what I could bring to the table than to not have the right at all. Forty years ago, gay people were disowned by their families, so we made our own. Now, unfortunately, that right is being taken away from us. Gay marriage should be legal — not because I buy Prada but because I exist.
Bruce VanWyngarden's mocking column (November 27th issue) about the decision to vote down the proposal to relax the city residency requirements for police officers — along with Mary Cashiola's column in that issue on the same subject — left me cold.
I offer a few points to ponder: Citizens voted in favor of residency restrictions several years ago. The residency requirements are already relaxed. (They was expanded from the city limits to the whole county.) Anyone living anywhere can be hired, as long as they move to Memphis or Shelby County within six months.
The seven black council members are accused of being divisive and voting along racial lines, and the six white council members were not.
Yes, I strongly believe officers should live where they police. Doing so gives one a clear perspective, a vested interest, and a stronger bond to the city than just a paycheck. The fact that Shelby County is the largest county in Tennessee and 200 suitable candidates cannot be found is beyond ridiculous.
If there are problems with the MPD, one should look at its leaders, Chief Larry Godwin and Mayor Willie Herenton. We need to look past the "safety" issue, along with the name calling and race baiting on both sides, and consider that there is something more at play here.