← All Posts

Yesterday's news

I recently visited the museum for my local municipality. It was delightful to look at the heritage of the area I live in, particularly at paintings of how it looked like hundreds of years ago.

One thing that struck me was their newspaper archive. Part of the daily routine of the museum is to collect newspaper clippings about the municipality, sorted by category & year.

I browsed through some of them and quickly realized how — contrary to the paintings I’ve seen before — they’ve lost almost all of their relevancy. The paintings were pleasant to look at 150 years ago and still are, maybe even more so.

The newspaper clippings might have been informative 150 years ago. Now, they hold pointless information (a new brewery opened in the municipality, a person so-and-so attended with his wife,…) and my pleasure consuming them, hundreds of years later, lacks in comparison to the serene aesthetics of paintings.

Now, what’s the practical lesson there? Since Europe is living through quite a turbulent time, I’ve developed a penchant for news. To help me have a more sober look at how valuable this is for me long-term, I started looking for newspaper archives and gleaned through their articles.

For a case in point, look at the WSJ’s archive for Jan 2nd, 1998. If you’ve read those articles back then and could now — with the benefit of over 20 years of hindsight — evaluate whether you would still read them or do something else with your time: would you?

P.S.: this is not meant as a stab against the WSJ in particular. Contrary to other news outlets, they publish a structured archive of all their editions. I think this shows a commendable commitment to transparency.