From Round to Square (and back)

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Newsprint Nonpareil—Introduction

Click here for the "Newsprint Nonpareil" Resource Center—(all posts available)
One year ago on Round and Square (1 March 2013)—China's Lunar Calendar 2013 03-01
Two years ago on Round and Square (1 March 2012)—Divinatory Economics: Sacred Incense (f)
Three years ago on Round and Square (1 March 2011)—Fieldnotes From History: Introduction
[a] Morning paper RF
I love newspapers. I have already written a bit about this on Round and Square. Last summer, I started a little series called "The Power of Five" (a Chinese cosmological twist on top-ten lists), and in one post examined what I called "The Five Newspapers." I was able to tell a few of my favorite newspaper stories there, and I hope that you will take a quick look at that post at some point. 

Here, however, we have a different challenge. This series is intended to highlight and even plumb a few depths of the world's great newspapers. In keeping with the new sub-genre rules approved by the Round and Square Board of Trustees at their annual meeting in Princeville, Kauai, in January, these posts will be "short." The new "rule" (I urge those who have taken Social and Cultural Theory from me to think of Pierre Bourdieu here) is that "short" posts will usually be 300 words (with a maximum of 500). 

Long posts, since we're on the subject, are 1,000 words, with an absolute maximum of 1,200. In other words, I will be introducing some nook, cranny, or both...about a recent newspaper publication, and bringing it to the attention of Round and Square readers. 

Oh, and the Round and Square "sub-genre" of introductions themselves? They will be as long as they need to be (this one is about 1,200 words).

Join me. Let's get serious about newspapers.

It'll be fun.

And most of it—there will have to be some exceptions—will come from newsprint. The kind that gets ink on your hands. It will come from papers that I buy in supermarkets, tobacco stores, bookstores, and (occasionally, because of their dearth in our hyperactive world) newspaper shops. 

And why is that, (I hear you ask)?
[c] Alas, poor newsprint RF

Well, it is not entirely because I am old school. While I am old, I am what I have termed a "situational Luddite." In other words, I choose when to be behind the times. For example, I resisted even buying a cellphone until practical matters about staying in touch with loved ones made it "required." I still have not gotten an iPhone, iPad, or other technologies (I will admit that the day is not far off, though). I do own a Kindle, and have learned much about its flaws (as well as a few positives...such as not having to lug forty books to China for summer reading). Oh, and how do I prove once-and-for-all that I am rather "" Well, I cringe every time I read a student paper and see even a proper Chicago-style citation with this word at the end: PRINT. 

What the fundament?*
*Please focus on the first definition in the MW link; I'm just a shy North Dakota boy, you see.

We have to show (now) that something is in the distinctive (and "other," I presume) category of "PRINT" literature? I know it is de rigueur now, but I hate it. 
[d] Mourning Paper

I love PRINT, and don't see any reason to highlight its ostensible oddities.

That is why I actually buy newspapers when I can. I enjoy paging through them, like the old days, when nothing was more important than what appeared "above the fold" in the Sunday newspaper. I weep for you if you do not understand the antiquated concept of "above the fold." It shaped (and folded) my life. Editors cared if they put something above the fold.

The iPad doesn't have a "fold." Even a Kave-person Kindle doesn't.

My papers do (when possible). Oh, I get it, and in a good way. Yes, ye critics of an ecological bent, I care passionately about our trees, and am not even going to make a case for the jobs created by an outdated logging industry (I have lived in Maine, people). Economies change. I tend to run a little left of the fiftieth percentile (you won't hear me divulge this often, but there it is), but I do care about jobs. I do also recognize that paper and print are a thing of the past (the latter of which I study for a living...please note). 
[e] Focused RF

I recycle every scrap of print that I read, and I am moving (as we all will) toward completely virtual newspapers, magazines, and books. The New York Times is barely acceptable on a regular Kindle, and The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books are terrible. Online (on the computer), they're great. On an iPad (I have peeked)...they are spectacular. 

Hell, online technology might (if everything goes the way I think it should) save newspapers and magazines.

Still, I'm buying paper when I can. I treasure it. I am old (and I always recycle). Leave me this pleasure, while it lasts. I still love Donald Barthelm's quotation from a 1983 issue of The New Yorker. It used to suggest "permanence" for me, and I wrote it down in my everyday "fieldnotes" at the time for that very reason. Oh, how times have changed.

             The New York Times will be published every day and I will have 
             to wash it off my hands when I have finished reading it, every day.
              Donald Barthelme, "Affection," The New Yorker, 7 November 1983

And I seek to dirty my hands whenever I can (and then wash them...and recycle).
[f] Inquirer Minds do...want to know (1942) RF

And I shall be sharing all of this here (ironically enough...with web links). These posts will be from all over the world, and will sometimes focus on the newspaper "as a whole" and other times on particular articles. Oh, and another thing. The name of the series? Well, you will know by now (at least if you are a frequent reader of Round and Square), that alliteration trumps grammar...familiarity...or even basic understanding when it comes to titles. N...p....N...p is the theme. I do hope you are able to deal with that.

We will conclude this introduction with one of my very favorite "above the fold" pieces in my long newspaper-reading life. It is Jennifer Lin's article on William Edgar Geil (1865-1925), and it is the very first thing that I have my students read when they take advanced historical methods at Beloit College (The Accidental Ethnographer). Not only did it provide a start to what I like to call "Geil Studies," but the Philadelphia Inquirer ran it "above the fold. I can't give you the print version (although I possess it), but I can link it for you here. Thank you Jennifer Lin, for a perfect example of what this series will cover (and maybe I should change the title of this series to Above the Fold

I'll think about that.

Oh, and there's a great documentary, too, directed by Karl Stieg with cinematography by Andrew Stowe. If you want to know more, contact me. All of this has propelled "Geil Studies" well beyond the "borders" of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. See below.

But it's all above the fold.
[g] Geil Studies Abroad RL

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