Ordering the News

folded newspapers
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I like to spend part of my Sunday morning reading the Sunday papers. This is different than the other days of the week that I read the “papers.” On Sunday, I get actual newspapers. Others days I read the papers on my phone.

I subscribe to digital editions of the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal1. On Sundays, I pick up New York Times and Washington Post on my morning walk. When I sit down with a paper, what I do is this. I separate the sections and rearrange their order.

  • I turn to the Metro section of the Post first, and read the obituaries. I’ll skim some of the obits, but I make it rule to read any obituary for someone who lived to at least 100 years old. Those are always fascinating. I pull out the obits from the Times and skim through those as well.
  • Next I read the Metro section in the Post to see what’s happening locally.
  • Next up are the editorials and op-eds. These are part of section A in the Post, but frequently are a separate section in the Times. I pull these two bundles together and read the editorals.
  • I go through the front page of each paper.
  • I go through the Times Book Review
  • Finally, I skim the remainder of both papers to see if there are any features I’m interested in reading.

By the time I’m done, there are pages of the Post and Times mingled together at the foot of the reading chair in my office (or on the deck, if I happen to read the papers out there.)

On the other six days of the week, I find it difficult to reproduce this very convenient way of reading the paper. In the New York Times app, I swear there used to be a way to reorder the “Section” in whatever order you liked, but that no longer exists. Indeed, I can’t find any setting that allows me to customize the order of the news. The same is true for the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal apps.

You’d think, being apps, that it would be easy to allow users to shuffle around the sections of the digital newspaper so that readers could easily read the paper in any order they want to. Why they don’t offer this is beyond my comprehension. One argument may be that the paper is presenting the news, editorially, in a specific order. Fine. That is, after all, what they do in the print editions. But I can still take the print edition apart and arrange it however I like. Why can’t I do this with the digital editions?

Instead, I waste precious times six mornings a week switching and back forth between apps and navigating between sections. First the obituaries in the Post, then the obituaries in the Times, then the Post‘s Metro section. Then the Times editorials, then the Posts editorials. You get the idea.

What would really be nice would be an app that aggregated news from the various digital subscriptions you had, and allowed you to order the news based on category and section. Something, perhaps, akin to Early Bird, but for digital news subscriptions. The app could verify my subscriptions to the Post, Times, and WSJ. I could tell it I want news presented in the following order: Obits, Metro, Editorials, Front Page, Book Reviews, Features. The result would be I’d log into this app and the news articles would be there from all sources, in the proper order, ready for me to read.

Now that would be a useful app.

Written on April 23, 2022.

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  1. I used to subscribe to the L A. Times but gave it up, sadly, to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. That allows for a more overall balanced picture of the world from what I had before since WSJ doesn’t generally reflect my own views. I do miss the L. A. Times.


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