Breaking news now broken

Curiosity, of the kind that kills cats, makes it impossible for me to ignore Pew reports on the “state of the meejah.” You see, I used to be in that disreputable trade. The report I just perused filled me with anxiety; the uncomfortable thought that I am an idler, wantonly wasting my time. Still, all work and no play would make David a dull boy.

Allow me to shock gentle reader by reporting that newspaper circulations are lower than before, and advertising revenues are shrinking. Single copy sales are down to 1940 levels in the Natted States Merica, it sez here. This doesn’t strike me as necessarily alarming for the owners, for a lot of newspapers were sold back then. Surely there are still profits to be made.

However, as I am reminded by consulting a copy of the Brooklyn Eagle from that year, three-quarters of the pages were ads. (I still read physical newspapers, but instead of newsstands I buy them in flea markets. I find newspapers aged at least half a century more informative and interesting than the ones published today.)

Moreover, the pages were wide: much space allotted to classified ads in agate type and yet, a lot of tightly-spaced “news,” too, and hardly any pointless “features.” In word-count, vastly more than any current daily journal, whose ad-free pages are mostly filled with large photographs and irrelevant headlines to serve as captions for them.

No journalist seems to have thought of it, but I suspect that a contributing cause of plunging sales might be that the market has perceived a total waste of money — now that fish is wrapped in cellophane. Even the reader hoping for soft pornography will find much better on the Internet, for free.

I’m not finished with the Pew Research Centre yet. We also learn that passive television watching is in decline, and Internet news, too. Radio is ill. News reporting is overall fading away, except “cable news” channels, which seem to be holding their own for the moment, thanks to viewers who absurdly love Trump, or pathologically hate him. There are other indications: that voters are less and less informed, even of the lies, the empty bull and posturings that constitute our democratic life. News is now entirely a failing entertainment industry, that had replaced such bloodsports as cockfighting; though it has become more fully an outlet for the deadly sin of Wrath.

All good, so far as I can see. The belief in “progress” requires constant punishment, and people can be relied upon to do it to themselves.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Pew, we learn that the Catholic Church is losing members evermore quickly in Europe and America, together with all other Christian churches. My own guess is that this is for the same reason that newspapers are collapsing. Little of significance happens in a contemporary church; just the usual “politically correct” prattle from a pulpit, to a stripped-down auditorium without upholstered seats. Church attendance has fallen below 1940 levels: “daily and Sundays” both way down.

People aren’t much interested in the news from Heaven any more. But they aren’t much interested in the news from Earth, either.

More generally: people aren’t much interested, today.