There is hope after all

Could there be a “revival” of the printed newspaper? A newspaper that comes with a smell and offers that same sensation of paper with a reading experience that could never be replaced by a smartphone or static computer?

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan
2 January 2018, 8:25am
Somehow at the end of the year, everyone seems to find time to indulge and reminisce, and to wonder whether it is really worth to make a New Year’s resolution after all. This time of year also serves as my chance to go down memory lane.

Out of the blue, I suddenly thought of searching for my 30-year-old turntable. It had long found a resting place in a garage of sorts which resembles more of a personal museum than a store. Needless to say, a sheet of white dust had enveloped the turntable and next to the aged relic there was a box with my blessed LPs, a selection of Frank Zappa, Marianne Faithful, David Bowie and Miles Davis albums left undisturbed for all these years.

Like an excited teen thinking that music was everything in the world, I patiently wiped off the dust and revived the look of this old beast and then plugged it in; to my surprise the red light from the broken power slot suddenly appeared.

The next day I made it a point to visit D’Amato, the music shop. It has not changed one bit since I last visited the place in the late 1980s.

“Can I have a LP cleaner?” I asked. I engaged in some small talk about how I wanted to start listening to my small collection of LPs on my own turntable.

“We are back to LPs, and this year has been a record year for turntable sales in the world,” he pointed out. “People of all ages, but mostly young people, are turning to turntables, they like the feel, the idea of physically placing the record on the turntable and, of course, listening to the sound.”

Later on I wondered, “Could it be that the best things in life cannot be taken away and are there to stay? You can improve the likes of a sailing boat, a surf board, a wooden stove or a bicycle, but somehow all these things have such an innovative design and use that it is next to impossible to replace.”

I thought whether, on the same lines, the idea could by applied to the printed newspaper.

Perhaps it is wishful thinking.

Could there be a “revival” of the printed newspaper? A newspaper that comes with a smell and offers that same sensation of paper with a reading experience that could never be replaced by a smartphone or static computer? Could people suddenly realise that digital print and social media journalism were not the substitute for the real thing? Just in the same way that audible books are no match to holding a chunky book in your hands with all the creases and awkward spines.

I cannot be sure, but I have a feeling that this over-dependence on the social media, which more often than not is a far cry from the real news, is not forever.  The imperfect things in life cannot last forever.

Many people argue that journalism originating from common citizens, is a good thing. I disagree; I think that journalism is one thing, expressing opinions is another thing. And good journalism cannot be churned out by anyone but by those who have an understanding of what the news is about. And today the border between journalism and opinion writing is blurred.

The social media discourse dominated by extreme voyeurism on Facebook can be very toxic and self-destructive. Worst of all, the social media gives rise to numerous echo chambers of like-minded groupings, meeting together in their own self-conceited, virtual world.

But back to the comfort zone of music where I’ll find a quiet moment and listen to ‘I’m the Slime’, by Frank Zappa – a genius and a great composer and satirist, a song that described TV as the scum of the earth. Zappa passed away in 1993. Had he still been alive he would probably have had some harsher and cruel words for the Internet and Facebook, at least more than the ones that served as the lyrics from his satirical but very true depiction of TV.

 

I am gross and perverted

I’m obsessed ‘n deranged

I have existed for years

But very little had changed

I am the tool of the Government

And Industry too

For I am destined to rule

And regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious

But you can’t look away

I make you think I’m delicious

With the stuff that I say

I am the best you can get

Have you guessed me yet?

I am the slime oozing out

From your TV set

 

The last thing I would wish for is to have my opinion indulge in controversy. But I think it would not be me if I did not repeat what I have always said about l-Istrina.

I disagree with such charity occasions. And I strongly disapprove that the President of our Republic, or any one of her Constitutional calibre should focus her or his attention to raise money for those in need, in this manner at least.

The President represents the State and it makes no sense that the State collects money to finance needs that the State should automatically be covering and sustain through its social welfare or medical programmes.

It is a charade: if people paid their taxes in full we would be raising hundreds of millions, not just €6 million and there would be more support for those in need. If there are underprivileged individuals and those in need of medical support, they should have the full support of the State and not wait for the Community Chest Fund or other related bodies.

I am sure that President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca means well and will be annoyed by these comments, but I said the same for her predecessors who indulged in these telethon marathons. Her legacy should have been Constitutional reform, not serving as the Florence Nightingale of those in need. I guess the first fault was permitting her to change the presidential office into an extension of her former social policy ministry where she served as minister.

I just hope that the next President will understand the Constitutional obligations and perhaps serve as a sentinel to chart this country’s future for the next three decades. Telethons will not change our country, but only serve to give the impression that we are compassionate people with a very big heart during the Christmas period. It sounds like a bad joke.

And surely not the job for any President of the Republic.

 

A Happy New Year to all!

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan is the founder and co-owner of MaltaToday. He has reported on Maltese poli...