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…
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.
In the movie, Luke Wilson’s character wakes up in the future to discover that the average intelligence of humans has plummeted.
The irony of this sentence is not lost on me. But also, this is Contemporary Idiot, not the New York fucking Times!