I can’t quite agree with Michael Connelly, the creator of the Los Angeles police detective Harry Bosch. He writes:
People who read books also read newspapers… If you foster books, you foster reading. If you foster reading, you foster newspapers.
People who read newspapers don’t necessarily read books. Nor are all book lovers compulsive newspaper readers. With all the news media now available, one can do without printed newspapers, thank you.
I personally love newspapers and browse the Guardian and the New York Times and several other publications online. But I don’t read the local newspapers here in Singapore every day and I don’t think I am missing a lot. I check the local news channel Channel NewsAsia’s website, which usually gives me all the information I need.
I am not terribly interested in crime stories or what’s happening in the region or the long local opinion pieces printed in the papers. The big news in Singapore anyway is what the government is thinking and planning to do next — and that and the business news are covered adequately by Channel NewsAsia (and Reuters and Bloomberg when it comes to business news.)
I would rather read the local news in a nutshell and spend the time saved reading books and checking foreign websites.
There are others, too, who get most of their information online.
But I can understand why Connelly as a writer feels the way he does. He is lamenting the downsizing of book reviews in American newspapers. As he freely admits in his article in the Los Angeles Times, it was favourable book reviews that established him as a writer. He adds:
I can’t help but wonder how long Harry (Bosch) would have lasted had he been born in today’s newspaper environment.
He may have a point there. And it’s not only the writer’s loss. Newspapers that cut back on book coverage may be cutting their own throats, he argues. Yes, indeed. I read the Guardian and the New York Times not just for the news but also for the book reviews, commentaries and articles on technology.
One can always get the news from one source or another. What gives a newspaper or a magazine distinction is the quality of writing, the analysis and reviews.