Dear New York Times,
It was probably just a matter of time. I started paying for a subscription to the NYT after a friend suggested I start playing Wordle, the clever five letter word game. It was sort of like giving a taste just to draw me into your house of mirrors. I have enjoyed the game and have had a streak of fifty-four continuous wins at one point.
With the paid subscription I began reading the news primarily and some of the essays by the opinion writers. The guest essays are often quite fun. Big names like Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates and various U.S. Senators have often been interesting reads. I suddenly felt like I was in the “know,” given a view into the rich and powerful. I tend to open the comments section for articles about Trump. Your readers then go on and on in a sort of cathartic release of how insane our times are and “how in hell that guy is not in jail yet” monologues. I have joined in on the ruckus at times but little lately. It really is a waste of time in the end.
And then in November you began publishing your Presidential race polls, which made it so we should rename out country “The United States of Anxiety,” as somehow the guy who was impeached twice and is in all kinds of legal problems is running neck and neck with the other guy. How is this even possible? One thing is for sure. I do not want to spend 2024 watching this horse race that you started.
In a recent episode of “On The Media” – “Is The New York Times A Tech Company?” does a good look at how the The New York Times refactored itself as not a newspaper or even a news publisher, but as a tech company. Publishing is dead. It is about a “platform.” No longer do you make money with good content and intelligent editors and stagnant ads but the with surveillance of your readers. Cull the ads for a demographic. Tease them with sticky content that will make them stay on the site.
I began to notice the formula. News more often than not started to become not events but merely conjecture and what people said. “Trump has decided to
not show up in court tomorrow.” “McConnel says he if feeling just fine.” “George Santos says he may parley his fame and become a gameshow host.” And even Ross Douthat goes so far as staging a hypothetical situation where Hillary Clinton (not Donald Trump) stages a coup.
The sticky content just kept coming. The rich and famous, the shysters and scandal were given prime real-estate on your paper. People would often should be in jail were treated as celebrities. Every time Trump would say something outrageous you would put his photo in a suit and a slick red or blue tie on the front page. Make him and our neurotic political environment seem “normal.” Someone who sent an angry mob on the capital is presented as a slick guy in fancy suits. You give the guy free real-estate on a hourly basis. Enough!
So I’m done. Please cancel my subscription to your echo chamber. I will not follow your polls or read your op-eds by your mostly corporate conservative, neo-liberal columnists. I will not read the witty comments from your dedicated readers. I will no longer have to wade through the 10 Ways to Lose 20 Pounds articles. I am done with your high-brow tabloid corporate journalism.
I decided to free up that time I was sucked in to your world for better things. I will get my national news from the many available sources out there. I am giving money to my local paper, Mission Local and 48 Hills. I subscribe to Matt Stollers BIG. But worry not. I will still play Wordle. That was sold to you with the stipulation that it would always be free.
Below are some of the easy to find examples of the new high-brow tabloid journalism at the New York Times.