In my December 13 column for the Rocky Mountain News, I pointed to declining interest in reading as one of the reasons for the financial problems of newspapers. One response I received was from a professional sports journalist. I've edited it a little bit, and omitted some details. The writer's point of view is strongly stated, but, I think, basically correct:
...It was nice to see the word "cretin" to describe the vast numbers out there who don't think reading is important.
All I can say to people who don't care right now about whether there's a local newspaper or two in town - or don't think it's important to democracy - is: enjoy living in a Big Brother, oligarchy some day real soon. Because if there is no independent, operable press keeping a check on power and exposing its wrongs then that is for sure where we'll be headed as a country.
I also think it is NO coincidence that our country is where it's at right now, because people aren't reading enough - and newspapers, included.
Everybody just wants to be "entertained" now, and for them that means having nothing to do with books or newspapers and everything to do with stupid video games, "reality" (there's a laugh, there's nothing real about it) TV and other total wastes of time.
Now that many of these people are out of a job and wondering why, because they often didn't/don't have the intellectual capacity to do think themselves out of their predicament and why they got into it in the first place - my response is: maybe you should spent more time reading newspapers and learning about your world and your community, instead of wanting to be "entertained" all the time by stupid stuff.
And I'll also freely admit that sports has played a large role in our great dumbing down of society. ESPN is a great, wildly profitable business. It's also a killer of young men's minds. People who might normally spend a day reading or going outdoors and meeting people and learning more about the world instead stay shut indoors watching crap like televised poker and two-hour long NFL pre-game shows and moronic round-the-horn gasbag, sports "debate" shows.
Add in all the dumb radios sports talk, regional 24-hour sports networks, and you've got a lot of absolute crap that young guys spend their time watching instead of picking up a good read.
I work in the sports media business, so I sound like a hypocrite, and maybe I am. But I think I'm telling the truth. I TRY to at least engage my audience a little bit, with some humor and intelligence, and not just blowhardedness, like many TV sports media types do.