Today, Slate announced the end of Today’s Papers and In Other Magazines, replacing them with The Slatest, an updated-thrice-daily aggregator of what they consider the top twelve news stories, magazine articles, and blog posts of the moment.
Sadly, this gets what made Today’s Papers and In Other Magazines great, though TP hasn’t been truly great since Scott Shuger stopped writing it years ago. Michael Kinsley said it best, in Slate’s own obituary for Scott Shuger:
TP, as we call it, became a daily course in how the media think, what they get right and wrong, all illustrated by the day’s news. He used the different ways the five papers covered (or didn’t cover) the same story as a controlled experiment in journalistic practice.
The last thing I need is another article telling me exactly what I have to know—I already have The Week in Review at the New York Times, and needing three daily updates on stuff to know just serves the neophilic impulse, rather than any genuine sense of being informed about the world. It’s just noise.
What made Slate smart was the meta-analysis: TP, In Other Magazines, and the long-since moved-to-video-and-now-I-ignore-it Summary Judgment, which compiled and contrasted the critics’ takes on books and movies. What made it worthwhile was the ability to get a good-if-not-full picture of a big and complicated world without easy answers in just a couple of paragraphs at a time. Thrice-daily pointers to twelve other things I need to read strikes me as exactly the wrong direction. If I just want novelty, I already have a loaded-to-the-gills RSS reader.