I’ve considering canceling my New York Times subscription. Here are the pros and cons. The reasons to keep my subscription:
- The NY Times has a really good science section (John Tierney excepted). It’s worth supporting that.
- Much of there ‘straight’ reporting is quite good–or at least it’s better than most other papers’.
- Paul Krugman is very good.
- The Sunday magazine is usually interesting.
- The Sunday book reviews are pretty good.
- Some of the other columnists, such as Dan Nocera and Gretchen Morgenson are worth reading.
The reasons I’m considering canceling my subscription have to do with the NY Times political coverage and its op-ed page. Both, by and large, are incredibly trivial, to the point where, given the NY Times’ influence and respectability, they are actually damaging our political system. The triviality isn’t a result of political bias, but of treating politics as if it were junior high school (this is where I disagree with Digby; Washington isn’t a Village, it’s Junior High School). Whether it’s the meaningless ‘News Analysis’ by Adam Nagourney or the White House gossip of Katherine Seeyle, I don’t actually learn anything about how the candidates and politicians they purport to cover actually would govern. I don’t want snark–that’s why I read blogs. I want to know who is going to set up the best healthcare system, and fix all of the other problems we face. In fact, often when I read Nagourney or Seeyle, I end up more confused than before I read the article (I presume this is a bug, not a feature). And so rarely have any of the ‘political beat’ reporters broken important stories: that has been the purview of real, investigative reporters (some of whom are at the NY Times).
Then there’s the op-ed page. Essentially, several of the op-ed columnists exist to mainstream Republican slurs. I’m not talking about serious political and ideological differences, but the kind of crap that Bob Somerby constantly rails against: Dowd referring to Senator Obama as “Obambi” and constantly ‘sissy-fying’ the Democratic Party (except for Democratic women who are shrieking, castrating harridans). As Bob Somerby noted, Dowd is crazy, and the consequences of elections are too important to treat them so trivially. Frank Rich, despite the occasional lovefest shown him over at the Great Orange Satan, isn’t much better. For some reason I can’t fathom, Rich really whacked Gore and Kerry over truly trivial things (although in Kerry’s case, Rich later reversed himself–after the damage was done). The NY Times op-ed page and political coverage require their own post to do these subjects justice, but I’m tired of doing my part, albeit very little, to help pay these assholes’ mortgages when they repeat completely subjective Republican propaganda (how should Obama refute the ‘wimp’ charge–bite the head off of a puppy?).
Fortunately, my possible decision to jettison the Times isn’t financial (I would probably switch to the Boston Globe). I believe readers should support good newspapers because quality reporting is important, and it requires a steady paycheck. But right now, I’m really on the fence regarding the New York Times because I think a lot of the Times’ political coverage is damaging our political system, and I don’t want to be a part of that.