Saturday, April 4, 2009

Choose What You Read

It seems every city with a subway system has free newspapers to go with it. This is definitely the case in Washington (the city of which I still consider myself a denizen, in many ways), whose Express and Examiner I find rather less than satisfying. It is the case in London as well, and as it turns out, Claire Wilson has no higher opinion of the free Tube dailies than I have of their Metro counterparts:

"They're just designed to depress, scare and sedate you. Page after page, there's nothing but paedophiles, stabbings, murders and drunk celebrities," she relates in today's Financial Times. "These papers aren't simply annoying, they're quite harmful."

So Claire and her friends decided to do something about it. Like all good young people of the modern age, they founded a Facebook group, Choose What You Read, dedicated to the proposition that commuters should consciously choose their morning reading, rather than passively accepting whatever is handed to them. But what made Choose What You Read more than just a Facebook protest was their decision to start handing out free books at Tube stations every first Monday of the month.

Their efforts are little more than a drop in the bucket when compared with the numbers of the free dailies, something Claire says she recognizes. (Well, she probably 'recognises' it...) But if even a handful of people are moved to think more consciously about what they read on their morning commute, she's willing to consider the effort a success.

If such a campaign were ever to come to the Federal City - and wouldn't it be great if it did? - I, for one, would be happy to help out.

Photo credit: "obama and hilary discussed .... (in bed)", by Pookalali08, courtesy of Flickr.
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