Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Two Complaints

1. Google Reader.

Don't get me wrong—I like and use Google Reader, but it has just one major flaw (that I know of): it strips all the formatting out of the websites it displays.

For those of you who don't know what Google Reader is, it's a program that keeps track of all the stuff you regularly read on the internet. Like, say you read a dozen friends' blogs everyday, scan a few webcomics, and maybe like to check to see what's new at apple.com or something. Instead of having to go to each website individually to check if anything's been updated, you can just enter each site into your Google Reader and it will check for you, grab what's new, and show it to you to read. It saves a lot of time and effort (you can check it out by finding the "reader" button on the top of Google's homepage, perhaps under the "more" button).

But what it doesn't do is show you the actual websites themselves. All you get is the text and photos displayed in simple black on white. Which is all well and good, but where's the joy in that? People go to a lot of trouble to make things look nice on their blogs and stuff—they pick nice colors and fonts, interesting layouts, and constantly update endless sidebars—but I'm not getting to appreciate any of that anymore. All I get is the naked text. So democratic. There should be a button on Google Reader to open a tab to each updated page in one click.

2. Local News.

Forget all the hype about a liberal media bias, the true culprits of funky journalism are the local cats. All I see, in no matter which city I live, is an endless war between stations offering the most accurate weather team, the most hard-hitting investigative journalism, and the most local local-interest stories. It's shameless and irrelevant.

Watching them squeeze every possible drop of story out of nothing makes me sick. Seeing them attempt to wield executive powers several steps beyond "investigating" is troubling. Seeing my neighbors actually tape their windows today in anticipation of a tropical storm making landfall today is laughable—and certainly the result of overhyped, quarter-hourly updates by our city's opportunistic news media.

My writer friends and I often talked derisively (and somewhat jealously) about bad literature, bestsellers, tell-all memoirs—stuff we find distasteful or dishonest about our field. I don't know what my journalism friends talk about, but I wouldn't be surprised if this was it.


Jennifer said...

This is what I hate: If the deadly infection is really that deadly, is it even RESPONSIBLE to make us wait until 10pm to hear the details? In the 15 seconds they just spent on a teaser, they could have told us the pertinent info as well as gotten me to watch the whole story at 10. Sensationalist jerks.

Joe said...

"Ahhh I don't like these two. They're surly. Turn it back to the team that cares."

"There's a big fire downtown. Maybe."

Brian Regan on the news team that cares and news you can trust.

poppies in july said...

1. confession: i am terrified of google reader. not because it doesn't seem like an incredible thing, but because the internet has alrady become this massive weedy unstoppable uncontrollable...something, and i'd rather put an end to it than add something else/control it.

2. i've wondered for so long about the pertinence of local news. but then i don't mind so much when i get to watch about how neighbor joe still believes in ufo's, and the news makes it seem a bit like a drama.

3. AND, by means of replying to your comment to me a few weeks ago - i've been in korea for almost three months now, and we are in love. i am leaving in about a week, but we're working through it. our relationship may just have to stay long distance until i come back again next summer.

4. i'm glad to find your blog! i'll link you. (and constance lovetorn is pretty happy, too)