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April 26, 2006

The Nebulous Road to News Junkie-dom

Considering my long and unabated exposure to the world of current events—my father read multiple publications daily even before the Internet—I suppose it was only inevitable that I would too one day succumb to the slippery slope of obsessive news junkie-dom. You can't say I didn't try, though.

Throughout elementary school and middle school, I resisted the incongruous world of nonfiction, much to the chagrin of my father. I refused to read even mainstream publications such as The Los Angeles Times and Newsweek, let alone the more esoteric ones we received (and still do), such as journals on pipelines, petrochemicals, or oil and gas. A whimsical home page alteration to my junior year of high school would change everything. Before long, headline after headline was drawing me in and I was spending more and more of my time on the Internet reading news.

This obsession with current events continued to accelerate at a dramatic pace throughout college. In addition to the New York Times, I began reading Washington Post, first sporadically, then daily, as a source of political news. Soon ventures to The San Francisco Chronicle and The Los Angeles Times would also become part of my daily routine. More recently, The Wall Street Journal and The Economist have become my publications of choice, although I still read all the other aforementioned as well.

Through all the publications and the tens of thousands of words read each day, the articles that interested me the most—the ones I still look forward to each day giddily like a kid at a candy store—were the venerable Op Eds; opinions not burdened with facts or concerned with the appearance of impartiality; pure, unadulterated, unapologetic, partisan rancor of the finest quality. Liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, Communists, Fascists—I read them all, and each time returned for more. I don't know exactly why, but editorials draw me in like a moth to flame (or perhaps, like a fly to shit, depending on your perspective).

One might imagine that based on the story I have just told that The New York Times Editorial Page is one I visit regularly and veritably, this was true. In fact, I probably read more editorials on The New York Times page than any other site—that is, until the awful thing known as Times Select reared its ugly, subscription-based head. Suddenly all the best content required a subscription! Dammit! It wasn't even about the money, which was fairly negligible. No! It was the principle! This content was free before! Why should I pay now? Screw that! I'd just move onto other, non-subscription-based (i.e., free) sites, which is exactly what I did.

The problem with that, though, is (1) with newspapers you often get what you pay for; (2) I'm an intellectual snob and hate poor writing; and (3) since editorials are by their very virtue so biased and one-sided, you have to read many, preferably written from opposite sides of the spectrum, to really understand any given issue (or as I like to think about it, to have any fun). With my access cut off to the slightly nutty left-wing Op Eds in The New York Times from the likes of Krugman and Dowd, I was left instead only with the more-than-slightly nutty right-wing editorials courtesy of The Wall Street Journal editorial board. This imbalance has left me craving good ol' starry-eyed lib'ruls (as they say in them red states) positing on benefits of socialized medicine, if only to stop me from running into the streets demanding the divestment of Social Security and the return to pre-Jungle government laissez faire (Roll, Mr Sinclair, roll!).

In light of these yearnings, I'm sad to announce that yesterday I finally capitulated to complete and incontrovertible news junkie-dom, selling out my (admittedly hazy) principles regarding Times Select. How did The New York Times convince me to so easily sell out? Simple: they sent me a promotional offer and since I don't get a paper on Sunday (The Weekend Journal doesn't count!), I ordered the Sunday paper, thus assuring the coveted Times Select access. I can hardly wait for my subscription to kick in!

So, when will it stop? When is enough enough? Never! It's never enough. I'm a news junkie, remember? This is just what I do. I'm thinking maybe Scientific American next—I don't get enough science reading in these days, and also, perhaps The Financial Times. Anyone else got any suggestions?


As a fellow news-junkie (or as I call it, information whore), I've found my fix through RSS. Forget looking for news, I have it hand delivered from about three dozen feeds.

Dude, I already had Times Select. You could've bummed my password.

bbc.. they have links to background histories.. nicely sorted and classified as well.

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