Got into a lunch discussion about newspapers, more specifically about how we end up paying for newspapers that ultimately land up at the old-newspaper-shop (pazhaya paper kadai). I have been brought up on the ‘reading newspaper is a good habit’ thing in school, moving to the ‘reading newspapers is desirable/essential/paramount to success in CA exams/ MBA interviews/ placement interviews’, later in life.
I have always been a supplement reader; be it Young World on Saturdays or The Sunday Magazine on Sundays (both from The Hindu stable), Siruvar Malar on Fridays and Varamalar on Sundays (from the Dinamalar stable), or The Metro Plus or more recently, Chennai Chronicle and Chennai Times. I am also a big fan of tabloids – I used to look forward to the free tabloid that you could pick out at the London tube stations (can someone remind me the name); I still look forward to flying out of Mumbai in the evening, I love the Mid-day. Ergo accounts for my 15 minutes tea-breaks in early afternoons.
So what do I like to read?
1. Cartoons (I love them, Calvin and Hobbes, Heathcliff, Wizard of Id, Archies, Asterix, Garfield, Dilbert, Simpsons)
2. Simple brain exercises (Spot the differences, word jumbles, mazes, sudokus (to an extent), cross-words (very rarely))
4. Agony Aunt columns of whatever kind (especially relationship columns, I get almost voyeuristic pleasure reading them)
5. Regular Columnists (not a regular reader of any of them in the paper version, used to enjoy V. Gangadhar’s Slice of Life)
6. Editorials and Opinions
7. Local news (the chain snatching, broken roads beware, woman elopes with neighbour kinds)
It is fairly obvious from the above that I do not enjoy reading political news and business news, possibly the real ‘news’ portions. To me at least, reading news is like following a TV soap; you need to know what has happened earlier to appreciate/understand what has happened yesterday. Just make it several hundred soaps and you know how difficult it is to completely comprehend all news. If you take a New Year resolution to start reading newspapers regularly (like I have done on several New Years), you are starting a movie from just before the interval. Too much has happened that you are not aware of, and there is no way you can immediately find them. You only to need to wait and watch more of it, and try to figure it out. Which requires too much patience, which is always in short supply. When forced to read with an end-objective in mind (like CA exams, interviews, etc.) it only gets worse. The outcome is the same (you don’t read them), but add to it a feeling of guilt.
That is why I enjoy reading newspapers online. Read something that catches your fancy, and there are always related articles that you can read, an opinion column that provides a beginning and some context, and if you read on rediff it will inevitably lead you to a slideshow of scantily-clad models :-).
A separate post on The Hindu vs lesser mortals will follow.