I wrote a post about how valuable newspapers were during the October snowstorm that hit the Northeast last year but recently I’ve also discovered I’m a big old fogey about news content in another way.
I don’t like to watch videos on news sites. Or sports sites.
What I want from a web news site is what I always wanted from the news: excellent writing.
To take an example, each week I read two excellent football columns. Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback on SI.Com and Tuesday Morning Quarterback or TMQ by Gregg Easterbrook on ESPN.com.
King has several columns over the course of the week and takes only a little time off during the NFL off-season, while Easterbrook just writes the one column and it doesn’t re-appear until football season. They’re both excellent writers, though very different. King tends to focus on the story behind the story, such as this week’s tale of the 2004 draft and how it impacted the current playoff team. He also includes a travel note and a beer/wine note of the week.
Easterbrook tends to break down the X and Os of the game, such as “do a little dance if you want to make fourth and short.” I enjoy his analysis and his occasional forays into politics. In his other life, he writes non-fiction books and is a contributing editor to the Atlantic Monthly and The New Republic.
I want neither of these columns converted to videos. King does video reports later in the week. They’re not nearly as interesting as his columns. There’s nothing wrong with the videos, it’s just I find him an eloquent writer and, as a talking head, not that far above average.
Easterbrook doesn’t do videos. I don’t want him too. Somehow, I have an image of him in my head and that works just fine to go with the words.
Similarly, I skip all CNN news with videos. I like reading the news stories, if only because I can quickly skim to get the essential “who, what, when, where, why and how” from the first two paragraphs.
I’m not sure if this makes me one of those “get off my lawn!” old people or if it’s more that I absorb things much better by reading than by watching something. Reading seems to be an engaged activity, interactive, while watching seems to me to be passive. I like watching short YouTube videos, especially humorous ones. And, obviously, sometimes one visual is worth many thousands of words, and images and videos, as we do in each post on GeekDad, help emphasize the words.
But there’s something about having the entire world wide web available that makes me not want to sit back and watch. I want to read, to savor words, to go back and make sure I received the full import of what’s being said.
I’m just very pleased that moving the words to the world wide web hasn’t resulted in words being lost.