I’d #ShowYourCancellation, but I was smart enough to not subscribe to the NYT

After the last election, a lot of my friends told me that it was more important than ever that we support good journalism — and I agree fully. Then they told me I should subscribe to the New York Times — and I hesitated. I’ve been disappointed far too often by the NY Times. Have we all forgotten Judith Miller, and how the NY Times was the staid, sober, disciplined news source that was beating the drums for the Iraq war? OK, maybe that was too long ago. So have we all forgotten how the NY Times was constantly promoting the “Hillary’s e-mails!” story just last year?

So I didn’t subscribe. And I felt mildly guilty about it.

But now…fuck the NY Times. Once again, they decided to fill a slot on their opinion pages with a conservative ideologue, a dolt formerly of the Wall Street Journal opinion pages (and we all know what a shithole that is), and the first thing Bret Stephens writes is an embarrassingly vapid apologia for climate change denial.

I can thank Stephens for one thing, at least. I no longer feel guilty. I’m even feeling a bit lucky to have avoided one waste of money. I guess a lot of people are feeling this way now.


  1. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Still won’t subscribe to NYT, they seem to be hitting back at their new op-ed with a SCIENCE page full of refutations of his claims. I see the strategy, it still fails. Giving that op-ed a voice is the failure that cannot be recovered by hitting back at him with facts. He already rejected facts and the readers will pick and choose as they see fit. NYT almost butand not quite. [note the substitution, the word struck out is obsolete]

  2. says

    Let them eat cake.

    Nobody should cry for most of the media: after participating eagerly in their own corruption they discover their masters are fickle and cruel. Just like everyone else, you gotta pick who you elevate into control of you, because you never know when they’ll just start making you beg and grovel.

  3. rpjohnston says

    Trump says the media lies, and frankly he’s not wrong.

    They lie with both-sidesism. They bring on a climate scientists and a denier; they bring on a doctor and an anti-vaxxer crank. They lie about there being objective truth and facts, they promote the lie that all ideas are featureless gray blobs, indistuishable from each other.

    But that’s bullshit and people know it. So the message that they take is that the MEDIA doesn’t care about facts and truth. They know that one of those people was brought on to bullshit them, and that the station is complicit with it. They know that the media doesn’t care what it tells you, as long as you watch or read and by their advertisers’ stuff.

    The media lies. Yesterday it was a climate scientist and a denier on to yell past each other. Today it’s Clinton emails vs Trump sexual assault. It’s all just nebulous ideas. Stories. There is Truth in there somewhere, people know it, but the media lies and denies that there is Truth.

    Someday, far or maybe not so far in the future, when the venerable NYT shutters for good and the executives have landed safely with their golden parachutes, people will ask “how did this happen?” And there will be years and years of analyses, of statistics, of theories, of demographics, of “turning points”, and people yelling past each other about what happened.

    They’ll all miss the simple answer: The NYT killed itself. A company whose business is founded on informing the public about reality, took the position that there is no reality to be informed about.

  4. anbheal says

    A sister gave me an online subscription two Christmases back. I politely declined, asked her to forward it on to some other nephew or niece. Ever since they were bought by the world’s biggest arms dealer, they have been terrible. Friedman and Brooks are supposed to be their centrists, and Mo Do their token liberal? Oh brother. The op-ed page is unreadable. And it’s not just the rightward slant, it’s the appalling quality of both the writing and the thinking. For fecksake, at least Bill Safire and William F. Buckley presented their venom literately and logically.

  5. trog69 says

    I couldn’t see paying for both, so when the WaPo offered a deal half the price of the NYT, I jumped on it. Mostly happy I did that, though I have no doubt the WaPo will disappoint me, too.

  6. says

    They also managed to publish an insufferable apologia of Le Pen which unquestioningly regurgitates Front National propaganda and calls her “Gaullist”.

    That’s what makes me angry about this whole discourse: yes, the attacks on the free press are dangerous, but the media uses it to ask for unquestioning support, instead of actually realising how much they are part of the problem.

  7. colinday says

    #5 @cervantes No, it’s not just you.

    #9 @Bernardo Soares Perhaps they misspelled “galling”.

  8. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re 2:
    Hasan Minhaj (The Daily Show correspondent) said this to the other correspondents at the White House Correspondent Dinner. To paraphrase:

    I tuned to you for news, not a multiple choice quiz. Don’t lay out all the lies and the facts and then lean back for me to choose which to believe. Sort out the truth from the fictions, then report your findings. Don’t just lay out all the raw pieces only.

    Funny how The Daily Show, which originated as literally fake news, is now the source of actual news, doing the job of sorting through the data for us and presenting their findings, with no multiple choice options. Sometimes deliberately absurd, to elicit humor, other times quite serious, quite obviously.
    CNN needs to analyze TDS and adopt some of their techniques, in favor of CNN’s current non-techniques.

  9. eggmoidal says

    All this talk of cancelling NYT subscriptions makes me feel left out since I don’t have one. If only there was a way to remedy that.

    Chevy version

    What’s needed is a web page to track people’s desire to subscribe or cancel on a daily basis, whether you already are a subscriber or not. It would have a “prove you’re human” check, naturally. It would have a Cancel button and a Subscribe button. It would keep counters for each user and totals counters for all users in multiple granularities of time (day, week, month, etc). Each counter would have a negative number if Cancels outnumber Subscribes. Each user would only be allowed one Cancel or Subscribe per day.

    Cadillac version

    Below the Cancel and Subscribe section would be a Details section that would allow you to vote on each NYT web article. It would have a scrollable list of links to the actual articles (most recent on top) that you could click on to read (that would be another draw – not having to wade through their lousy website to find stuff that got removed from the front page 1 hour after it was published). To the left of each link would be a Like and Dislike button, and next to them a drop down box allowing multiple selections of criticisms (e.g. “lies”, “damn lies”, “both-siderism”, “Clinton derangement syndrome”, “trickle down rubbish”, “climate change denial”, “other zombie idea”, “normalizes Trump”, “wargasm”, “dr;sos” [didn’t read – same old sh!t], “fresh bullsh!t”, etc.) Another drop down could have praise for what an article has right. You would be allowed to Like or Dislike once per article, but could select any number of praise and criticism lines for each article. The web site would collect and tabulate the data and send results to NYT every day to help them understand what they are doing to drive away thinking people (or attract them as the case may be some day).

    I want the pleasure of cancelling a NYT subscription every day I read their website. It’s not right I don’t get to just because I don’t have one. The Chevy version would give me an ersatz way of doing that. The Cadillac version just might conceivably make an impression on them if enough people used it.

  10. robro says

    anbheal @ #4

    Ever since they were bought by the world’s biggest arms dealer, they have been terrible.

    Who is that? According to Wikipedia, the Ochs-Sulzberger family trust still owns the bulk of the NYT company. Carlos Simms has been buying in, but he’s nowhere close the Ochs family.

  11. says

    Why not link to Russia Today?

    Yes, they are biased and they lie. They are indeed a propaganda channel. But in that sense they are exactly the same as any American news site. They also have some very good articles, opinion pieces and analysis every now and then.

    American media may not be state owned, but they certainly exist to propagate the dominant ideologies of the US. The New York Times is just one (prominent) example of that.

    RT does fit in a balanced media diet. Provides a different perspective. I would say it is necessary reading for anyone who wants to be kept informed of world affairs, along with other international news sites. With some close reading it informs about the way the Russian government sees the world, or how they want to be seen by the world. One would be mad to call that irrelevant.

  12. says

    “The RT panic is like the Al Jazeera panic of yore.”

    Absolutely not. Al Jazeera is a very straight up journalistic enterprise. RT is completely unmoored from reality. They are not to be trusted in any way.

  13. Derek Vandivere says

    Yeah, that’s a pretty big false equivalency there.

    I’ll be celebrating by going to a lecture by the guy who wrote ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas’ and the guy who did the Trump voice in the ‘Holland Second’ video…

  14. jack16 says

    How about something specific about RT. Evidence anyone? Larry King? Watching the Hawks?

  15. kome says

    If we are to not link to any media organization that conducts propaganda, the only links we’d be left linking to would be pornographic (and given PZ’s tentacle fetish, do you really want that? really? think about it). Rather, it might be in our best interest to consider the source as a piece of information about the story, do our best to corroborate or falsify the story with other sources, looking for primary sources especially, and consider the evidence we collect separate from the sources we collect from. In other words, we really can’t trust journalists to present us with complete and honest information (too many examples to mention, but the Iraq War and email-ghazi are some good ones) so it is up to us to be critical consumers of information. It’s more work, certainly, but oh well. That’s the price we pay to be informed citizens.

  16. says

    Listen folks, I write a blog about Iraq and Afghanistan. I have to sort through all sorts of media — and there is a difference between state-run propaganda like the Iranian and Russian sources, and independent journalism with some concept of integrity. You may not like CNN’s choices about what to cover, the way they spin stories, or their opinion writers; but they make an effort to stick to verifiable facts. In Afghanistan, I basically trust Tolo and Khaama. In Iraq, I will link to, for example, Rudaw (Kurdish), Asharq al-Awsat (which is based in London and is a sectarian Sunni publication), and even AhlulBayt which is a sectarian Shiite source, acknowledging their agenda, because they have some regard for facts. I link to al Jazeera which is completely trustworthy. However, I will never link to RT or Sputnik, because they are FAKE NEWS.

    If you want to think critically, you need to be able to make some basic distinctions.

  17. joel says

    PZ, you completely undermine your claim to care about good journalism by linking to RT. There’s a major difference between lazy, complacent journalism like the NYT, and actual Russian-government-sponsored propaganda like the RT.

  18. says

    Anyway, PZ’s complaint isn’t about the NYT’s journalism at all, it’s about an opinion column. Can we at least keep those concepts straight?

  19. carlie says

    The Washington Post can be quite disappointing (they have an op ed right now claiming that the Obamas have “enough money” and shouldn’t make any more. No, seriously), but they also give free e-subscriptions to anyone with a .edu or .mil address, so I can’t complain based on how much I pay for it.

  20. joel says

    Cervantes #25: meh, the NYT’s habit of including crank views infects their journalism also. They rarely publish an article about global warming, vaccines, or fluoridated water without including at least one quote from an idiot.

  21. says

    The New York Times is an enthusiastic subscription for me and I haven’t even forgotten Judith Miller, Jayson Blair, or their lacrosse reporting. While I used to make my way through the opinion pages of all the New York newspapers when I was bartending, I do so so much anymore. They deserve criticism for running this garbage, but it’s not worth me canceling my subscription over.

    Their app and notifications are great, the family plans can be quite reasonable digitally, and I very much enjoy their local, national, and international reporting. Their daily podcast is very well-done and they even moderate their comments well (for a media outlet). Where I really feel they’ve fallen short recently is in science and technology reporting. The Tuesday science section was a staple for me in college. They also aren’t quite going as in-depth on a lot of things the way the Washington Post does and I wish they would. I also subscribe to the Washington Post.

  22. ck, the Irate Lump says

    Given how long Trump has been trying to declare the NYT as dying or dead, I have to wonder if RT has decided to try to help make Trump’s lie come true…