My family always subscribed to two newspapers: the Ottawa Citizen and the Globe and Mail. I started my own Globe subscription in my early twenties. In the last two decades my own family has subscribed to the Globe and the New York Times daily. It is inadvisable to interrupt us early in the morning until we have digested the day's news along with our cereal and coffee.
Everyone knows what happened in the United States election in 2016. At the time I tried, like most, to understand why it had happened. At first there was media interest in the voters who elected Trump, how they felt disaffected and ignored by the government purporting to represent them. Later there was stellar writing by the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates about underlying racism behind the American vote in his collection of essays We Were Eight Years in Power. What white people feared was never 'bad Negro government, but good Negro government,' Coates wrote--except he was quoting from W.E.B. Du Bois in 1895 about African-run communities in the U.S.
Too many newspapers and media have become cork boards upon which any random dart lands on a story about Donald Trump. Doug Ford's election as premier of Ontario is about Trump. Bill Clinton's and James' Patterson novel must be about Trump. #MeToo is about Trump. The World Cup of football is declared a relief from Trump; even his absence becomes a presence. Shoot darts at the same spot on a dartboard and eventually there's not enough cork for the darts to stick.
Now I read the Globe for Canadian news. The New York Times front section I skim or avoid altogether with visceral apathy. My withdrawal embarrasses me. Decades ago when an acquaintance told us he never read the news I avoided him afterwards, convinced he was not worth talking to. Is that person now me?
Maybe not. Reporting the news is supposed to be who, what, where, when and why. Commentary is the opinion of a writer explaining and giving an opinion about reported news. This week Trump visited Vladimir Putin in Russia; afterwards CNN anchor Anderson Cooper began his commentary by saying "You have been watching perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader, certainly that I've ever seen," he said.
When the media starts providing content again, I'll pay it better attention.