The NYT Should Leave the NYT for Substack

The New York Times wants go from newspaper of record to juicy narratives.

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“All the News That’s Fit to Print”

That has been the slogan at The New York Times since 1897. It was adopted, in part, as a jab at contemporary newspapers that were known for a “lurid, sensationalist and often inaccurate reporting of the facts and opinions, described by the end of the century as ‘yellow journalism’”.1

When you think yellow journalism — think today’s tabloids & fake news.

At its best, yellow journalism is fodder for harmless gossip. At its worst, it can inadvertently help start wars.

Mostly, I think it just contributes to my theory that we are playing out the plot of the movie Idiocracy2 in real-time.

In any case, the slogan represents the paper’s mission to report the news in a professional and ethical manner. A proper, admirable goal.

If you’re anything like me, you would categorize the NYT as left-leaning. Even if you said they were radically liberal, a fair share of the population would agree with you (and probably use some colorful language in doing so), though I wouldn’t go that far.

As an NYT subscriber, I know what I signed up for and appreciate reading perspectives I might not necessarily agree with, so some bias doesn’t bother me much. I just make sure to keep a salt shaker close by.

Personally, to keep my flow of information balanced, I also subscribe to several other news sources that all lay somewhere on the spectrum of delusion (LA Times and ZeroHedge, for example).

On Twitter, I follow a handful of crazies from both sides. For balance, yes, but also because they can be incredibly entertaining (read: unintentionally hilarious) if you don’t suffer from delicate sensibilities.

At the end of the day though, when I read the NYT I know I’m getting facts (regardless of the political lens through which they are projected) because it’s a newspaper of record. Right?

Well, now I’m not so sure…

Wait, what?

I’m no journalist, but something about a publisher of global news (widely relied upon by the public to remain informed) even thinking about “juicy” narratives gets my spidey senses tingling.

Call me old-fashioned, but the newspaper’s primary objective should be to present the truth in an understandable and concise manner. I don’t care if it has some political spin put on it, but that must always be the goal — the truth.

Once you start prioritizing stories over the news, though, you encourage the dramatization of events. When you do that, the truth takes a back seat, and that is dangerous.

If the NYT really wants to create the narrative (read: revert to yellow journalism), then they should do what everyone else with an opinion and a creative itch does: start a Substack.3

Save the “juicy” bullshit for whoever chooses to subscribe to it and leave the narratives out of the print.

TL;DR: The New York Times has set out to become what it set out to replace in 1897.

2

In the movie, Luke Wilson’s character wakes up in the future to discover that the average intelligence of humans has plummeted.

3

The irony of this sentence is not lost on me. But also, this is Contemporary Idiot, not the New York fucking Times!