I’m one of those page turners who likes a tactile read, one that connects my fingers as well as my eyes to the printed word. Reading stuff online doesn’t make a lasting imprint on my cerebral cortex as does a physical engagement with each section of the daily paper. I’ll admit, my reading habits are ingrained-peripatetic: I browse first the front page of the business section, find the obits, then the arts, special sections like science, the editorials, and finally front page news.
To lure me into become a digital-only subscriber, which I tried for a year, I’d want to be able to design my own home page:
--Obits of anyone except for athletes (bicyclists excepted), rock musicians, politicians, and real estate developers.
--Book review of the day, especially if the review is written by critic Dwight Garner, whose literary talent is equal to or greater than most authors whose books he critiques.
--Any high-tech news unless it’s about big data, cybersecurity, or the doings at tech dinosaurs like Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Cisco, and Hewlett Packard.
--Any article written on any topic by Natalie Angier, science writer, and Kim Severson, who used to cover the South and now writes about food. Also, Patricia Leigh Brown, who writes about anything that interests her, usually some cultural aspect of life in Northern California. Yes, these are all women writers…is that a surprise?
It’s also important to delete sections I almost never read, like any news about baseball, hockey, soccer, tennis, skiing, and football, although I did read about that guy who owned the Clippers and made racist remarks, and I also read about the concussions among football players, but those stories are about racism and sports injuries rather than football per se.
(The Times used to have a wonderful reporter, Samuel Abt, who covered the grand tours of cycling, but he’s gone and so is the coverage except for newswire service bites.)
My personal home edition would take into account that I also skip anything to do with real estate and news about kidnappings (unless it’s 200 girls kidnapped at once), rapes, conflicts in Africa, South American jungles, and Chinese cities, self-immolations, train crashes in India, climate-change deniers, the Pope, most politicians, and natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, mudslides, and avalanches. Well, I do read about avalanches in areas where I used to go mountaineering, just because I feel glad I’m not there any more.
Dave Winer came up with the concept of the river of news, as in having your news delivered fresh in a constant stream, like a running body of water.
Right now, The NY Times digital home page is more like a cesspool. At least, it would be nice if I could make it my personalized cesspool.