Read the Newspaper

Read the Newspaper

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.  

Robert Scott

An OpEd column is likely not the best place to recommend reading a newspaper; like preaching to the choir, those who hear the message are among the least likely to need to hear it. Nevertheless, the reasons why this is so are, or ought to be, worth repeating.

Like many others in 21st-century America, I probably spend too much time on social media. There is a lot there, but one needs a filter to avoid sinking into the abyss. I have several “friends” whom I follow on Facebook, many of whom are interesting to me precisely because we see politics, life, and religion from vastly different perspectives. One in particular, I will call him Jim, is a correspondent whose viewpoint I respect, and he does mine (or he purports to, anyway), and I will continue striving to bring him around to right-thinking without any more likelihood of success than he has with me. One thing Jim posted the other day got my attention: he has stopped reading the newspaper because the mainstream media, MSM in social speak, gets so many things wrong. Well, this is yet another area where he and I differ: not so much about whether the MSM gets things wrong, but rather whether it is a good idea to just stop reading the newspaper. It is not.

The most prestigious newspapers, and by that I mean those based in New York, Atlanta, Washington, Chicago, and other cities, form the central print sector of the MSM. Their editorial pages generally have columns much more learned than the one you are reading now, and they have columns not only from those whose views coincide with those of the paper’s editorial board but also from those whose views differ. In my opinion, every American adult should try to read at least one great newspaper, and to readboth sets of views. The MSM in many ways reflects the views of the political midpoint of America. If you see the MSM as being to the right of your own views, that probably means your views are to the left of center; and if you see the MSM as being to your left, then you are likely to the right of center. Neither of those is a reason not to read one of those central print newspapers. Being informed means understanding not only the basis for one’s own views, but also the basis for views which differ from yours. Rarely is it because those differing views are evil, or anti-American, or totally misinformed; understanding them helps a citizen to hone his own ideas, and to remember that the ability to learn new things and to change one’s ideas based on newly acquired knowledge is the hallmark of small-D democratic citizenship.

Here in South Carolina, in addition to wonderful local weeklies such as The Edgefield Advertiser, we have several newspaper options that fall into the category of MSM. My own recommendation is the Charleston-based Post and Courier. Not only are they in my opinion a very well-run paper, but also an online subscription to the P&C gains one complete access to the Aiken Standard, to the formerly titled North Augusta Star (now just The Star), and to local editions of the P&C itself, including Greenville, Myrtle Beach, and of course Columbia.

Television news tends to encapsulate just the headline and omit a lot of the story, and getting news from social media is even worse; most stories make no sense when reduced to a soundbite or a slogan. It is important to learn more about ideas you are pretty sure you will agree with and, even more importantly, those you will disagree with. In any case, Read the Newspaper!