I finally broke down and got a digital subscription to a newspaper

I’ve been waffling. I’m extremely unhappy with the cowardice of American journalism, so every time some major news source whines at me that I should subscribe and pay even a small amount to support ‘quality journalism’, I grimace and say a few choice words (in my head) and back away. But on the other hand, if we don’t support journalists, how will the situation improve? I go back and forth on this.

But today, I realized that I do need to step up and throw a few dollars at the news media…provisionally. I want to see some improvement or I’ll give up again. The deciding factor was the New York Times. they went all fair-and-balanced on us.

In a note on the Times’s opinion page Wednesday night, the newspaper recognized its critical view of the Trump administration, and said it would feature letters from Trump supporters in the spirit of “open debate” in place of the print edition’s editorial page.

“The Times editorial board has been sharply critical of the Trump presidency, on grounds of policy and personal conduct. Not all readers have been persuaded,” the note reads.

“In the spirit of open debate, and in hopes of helping readers who agree with us better understand the views of those who don’t, we wanted to let Mr. Trump’s supporters make their best case for him as the first year of his presidency approaches its close.”

Yup. That abruptly crystallized my decision.

So I subscribed to The Washington Post.

The New York Times will never get a penny from me.


  1. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    I hate ‘fair and balanced.’

    I don’t remember where I read this, but the argument went like this: Joe and I decided to go out to dinner. I suggested Italian. Joe suggested a place that served broken glass, marinated in shit and laundry soap, served over a pile of shredded saw blades. I recoiled at the thought. Joe then said that it is all just opinion, his opinion is as good as mine, so why don’t we meet in the middle: they can serve the glass in shit and soap over pasta. That’s fair and balanced, right?

    The Trump administration, hell, the whole GOP, is asking us to sit down to a nice helping of vetri rotti, marinati nella merda e sapone da bucato, serviti su un mucchio di lame tagliuzzate and add a dollop of being balanced and getting both sides. And the press has enjoyed the dish. With relish (calcoli biliari (picked gallstones)).

  2. nathanieltagg says

    A few years ago, the WaPo editorial page was a Wingnut Welfare Superfund Site: they were absurdly pro-republican and idiotic, even if their reporting was basically fair. Has that changed?

  3. mnb0 says

    “I’m extremely unhappy with the cowardice of American journalism.”
    As an American you are a lucky guy. All Dutch newspapers are like the NYT – or worse.

    “In the spirit of open debate”
    all the fans of Geert Wilders and new alt-right star Thierry “immigrants cause homeopathec dilution of Dutch culture” Baudet


    get all the opportunities to spread their toxic views. And no, they are not racists; they are worried about health care, because White Lives Matter. (/s).

  4. robro says

    nathaniel tag @ #2

    That sounds like The Washington Times. A few years ago the Washington Post was publishing the Pentagon Papers and details about Watergate which contributed to driving Nixon to resign. I think they also investigated Iran-Contra. They aren’t as liberal as Republicans assert, but they’re more middle of the road than the WT.

  5. tacitus says

    I would recommend subscribing to The Guardian. They don’t hide their content behind a paywall, so it’s not really necessary, except quality news coverage costs money.

    They are one of the very few completely independent (i.e. trust, not corporate owned) quality print news outlets still operating today.

  6. phhht says

    I’m a subscriber to the Post, and I can warn you: the do not allow atheist comments on their religious articles.

  7. rietpluim says

    I would love to see newspapers to be fair and balanced… if only they knew what fair and balanced actually is.

  8. Johnny Vector says

    WaPo has its problems, but it also has Alexandra Petri, a national treasure. I would have paid for a subscription already, if I didn’t have a free one for being a fed.

  9. tccc says

    My two “support good journalism” papers are The Guardian and Mother Jones. Quite good reporting out of both of them over the past few years.

  10. fishy says

    I go back and forth on this.

    I have this same problem with public radio.
    I listen to Morning Edition on the way to work and I am continually frustrated and angered by the lackluster attempts to address reality. Any show that would have Jonah Goldberg on pretending to be some political savant is a show that should pay me for the time wasted.
    And yet…there are locally produced programs that I really enjoy and appreciate.

  11. AndrewD says

    The Guardian will never get another penny of my money, I parted company with the Establishment lackeys when the refused to accept the democratic decision if the Labour Party membership in electing Jeremy Corbyn as leader

  12. pjabardo says

    Jokes aside, I kind of envy you. From where I’m writing (Brazil), it could be argued (maybe even successfully) that even FOX News would be an improvement.

  13. joehoffman says

    Another upvote for Alexandra Petri!
    The Post’s op-ed page is still a den of Orcs, but it takes quite a few clicks to get there and I don’t bother. The Plum Line and Monkey Cage blogs are excellent, too.

  14. says

    They badly need to a) reintroduce the fairness doctrine, and then b) bloody enforce it. I think this was the nail in the coffin, really – “Not only do you no longer have to presents the other sides views honestly and fairly, you can lie you ass off about what those views are, and how much more sensible your own are by comparison!” Yep, no way that failing to hold journalists to “any” standards at all, even vague ones, would have/did backfire at all.

  15. imback says

    @Kagehi #18, the fairness doctrine never applied to newspapers such as the Post. It applied to broadcast media when there was limited bandwidth. Now the bandwidth is not so limited. I believe a better way to ensure fairness is on the ownership side, regulating monopolies and business practices.

    As far as the Post is concerned, it’s a mixed bag. The editorial team was all for the Iraq war, and there have been a couple columnists who deny climate science. Before the sale to Bezos, its main moneymaker was the Kaplan for-profit education company, and the editorial page dependably reflected a lean toward privatizing education. On the other hand, the Post has done a lot of great reporting lately which didn’t depend on access to power, such as its reporting on the Roy Moore accusers. And I enjoyed the movie The Post which outlined the tension between corporate timidity and journalistic daring.

  16. mistershelden says

    The Washington Post, that’s the one owned by billionaire tax-dodger Jeff Bezos, isn’t it?
    And as for The Guardian, well the mask certainly slipped when they fought tooth and nail against a mild leftist becoming leader of the UK Labour Party. But we have known for many years that they are basically corporatist pro-war quislings. This is a good recent assessment http://medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2018/861-a-liberal-pillar-of-the-establishment-new-look-guardian-old-style-orthodoxy.html

  17. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    As a longtime subscriber to the dead tree version of the Post, I can tell you you’re likely to be disappointed, especially if you get to the op-eds (Michael Gerson seems to be David Brooks and Ross Douthat’s love child).

    But overall the reporting is excellent, even most of their right wing shills are anti-Trump, and, as mentioned above, they have Alexandra Petri.

  18. Helen Huntingdon says

    The Washington Post is the paper that claimed that campus rape is something women make up to gain “coveted status that confers privileges”. Nice choice, given what I know about your employer university.

  19. kebil says

    Hmmmm. The is your first post that has left me unsettled. First, yes it is true that both the NYT and the Washington Post have editorial pages dominated by people deeply opposed to Trumps “ideology”, and his leadership. However, this opposition is is the needed reaction to a large body of evidence shows this administration to be dishonest, authoritarian, that they are happy to redistribute income upwards. Your post made me wonder if maybe we NEED to hear from Trump followers, to understand what they believe,what their grievances where, it would be possible to develop bridges between communities to learn from each other.

    However, then I remembered that evidence and arguments rarely change beliefs that are themselves based on Faith. And support to Trump is indeed Faith based. It may be unique in that adherents are required to accept that truth is a fluid concept. Something Trump says on Tuesday is obviously a revealed truth, eternally existed as revealed knowledge.

    The next day, as today becomes yesterday, everything from that day becomes a memory, pliable, manipulable, yet never changing and constant. At least in Trumpism.

    When Trump says today something opposite of yesterday (remember, yesterday was a dream) today, he has contradicted himself. He has not changed his mind. No, what he said today is what he has always said. And he has never said anything that contradicts what he say;s yesterday. And, best of all, all evidence that shows he is lying, is being deceptive, or that he has changed his mind, that is all fake news.

    It would be one thing if Trump supporters used the accepted, publicly available, and well documented facts, and used them as the foundation for their arguments. But when they prefer to use their version of the truth, deny objective facts, and just continue to throw out Fox igNews, as the majority of his supporters do, then their is no actual benefit to publishing this. It does not help his supporters, as there actually is no consistency or validity to their beliefs, and the values they derive from them. And because there is no coherent philosophy beyond immediate anger and hate, other-ing, misunderstanding, and paranoia, it is hard to really learn anything from what they say.

  20. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Your post made me wonder if maybe we NEED to hear from Trump followers, to understand what they believe,what their grievances where, it would be possible to develop bridges between communities to learn from each other.

    We tried that. Didn’t work. Weren’t you paying attention?

  21. snuffcurry says

    Did you miss kebil’s last sentence, Azkyroth? They’re acknowledging that listening to Trumpists in order to “understand what they believe” is an impossible task when they believe in nothing but an ever-evolving partyline pushed by a cult of personality.