Sunday, February 22, 2009

Reading about you? Reading about me?: Contact with Other Worlds

Wondering now about what is average America. I read the New York Times online every day – I see pictures of New Yorkers in the Times – upscale young couples with jobs that pay well – clean cut and smiling.
They probably take vacations – kids will go to good schools – I tire of looking at them.
I told Ellen that I was looking for another newspaper to read because I was tired of looking at rich white people smiling and holding their babies up for a picture.
Who do they represent? I Googled ‘average American newspaper’ to see if I could take a look at another America – it’s an academic question – I could look at the Philadelphia Daily News or a paper from Idaho, I guess.
So I did that. I Googled "American newspapers" and got a list. I went to Idaho and looked at the papers there – I chose the Idaho Mountain Express, which reports news from Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey, Bellview and Carey. I don’t want to make it a novelty kind of thing, but the first item I read was about how the Planning and Zoning Board in Hailey had changed the code to permit five chickens on a property instead of just three.
Certainly I could look at my own local papers, the Cape May County Herald or the Cape May Star and Wave, but the issues they report are too close to my daily reality for me to get anything like a long view of American culture from them. Hence my Idaho sojourn. I'll check there from time to time to get some perspective.