Tag: New York Times

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The News I Choose

Strange isn’t it, the quotes that cling to you. In August 2009, the New York Times rightly asked: “What’s a Big City Without a Newspaper?“—when many reputable reporting organizations contemplated erecting paywalls after too long bleeding advertising revenues to the Google Free Economy. Journalist Michael Sokolove interviewed Brian Tierney, who then led a group trying to salvage two major dailies following bankruptcy: “He wants to begin charging for online content. As he told me this, he banged a bagel on a conference table, which sounded like a rock as it hit. ‘You hear that?’ This bagel stinks, he said. ‘It’s got the same consistency inside and out, but if you went down to our cafeteria, it costs like $1.25. That’s what people pay for stuff like this, so you mean to tell me I can’t get them to pay that for online access to all the incredible stuff in The Inquirer and Daily News online? People who say that all this content wants to be free aren’t paying talented people to create it'”.

Perhaps because I am a working journalist, or maybe being someone who seeks news that he can trust, the sources most valuable to me aren’t free. I pay for them—and in putting together a list, much more than expected. But before continuing, qualification: I started to draft this post in September 2015, coming back many times with intention to complete—only to perennially procrastinate. Perhaps I subconsciously intuited that my main news sources would dramatically change, as they have following Donald Trump’s unexpected presidential election victory. 

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Outrageous! Digital Wall Street Journal Costs 708% More Today Than Did My First Subscription!

As a journalist, I appreciate the importance of paying for quality journalism—but my budget only can absorb so many paywall subscriptions. I am disappointed to, once again, abandon the digital Wall Street Journal. Cost is too high. I resubscribed this year for a 6-month, election special promotional rate of $87—and received great value. The Journal became my newspaper of record during the brutal, belabored, blood-sucking Presidential campaign.

My sub would have auto-renewed on December 9th. But for how much? Nowhere (that I can find) does the account page disclose this vital information. So yesterday afternoon, I called customer service and received a shock that required the guy to repeat the renewal amount four times. Surely I misunderstood him: $98.97 for three months. That’s $395.88 per year! I pleaded for a deal and got one that isn’t low enough: $130.44 for six months. The WSJ rep compared the monthly costs for the incredible savings: $21.74, rather than $32.99 monthly. But as I told him, the meaningful comparison is to my other paid papers (digitally). 

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You’ve Been Misled About Fake News

I am ashamed and embarrassed to be a journalist. This past week’s coordinated attacks on so-called fake news sites—largely orchestrated by the mainstream media and supported by Internet gatekeepers like Google and social media consorts such as Facebook or Twitter—is nothing less than an assault on free speech by organizations that should protect it.

They blame so-called fake news sites for influencing the 2016 Presidential election in favor of real-estate mogul Donald Trump and seek to extinguish them. But the Fourth Estate really responds to a perceived threat that looks to upend the mainstream media status quo. More appalling is the rampant advocacy journalism wrapped in cloak of objectivity from news orgs like the New York Times and the Washington Post. Meaning: Anti-Trump editorial policy and reporting slants are as biased as the labeled fakers. Worst of all: Many, if not most, media outlets fail to acknowledge, if even see, how they failed the American public during the campaign. Their accusations should point inwardly, not outwardly to other information disseminators.

So there is no misunderstanding: I am not a rabid Trump supporter, but a journalist who separates personal sentiments from my ethical responsibilities. More of my peers should do likewise.

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Virtual Reality in a cardboard box?

Today the New York Times spammed my inbox: “We’ve just launched an innovative virtual reality platform that will transform the way you experience stories. As one of our most loyal digital subscribers, you are entitled to a complimentary Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer for an enhanced viewing experience”.

I took advantage of the freebie, thinking that this thing, which literally is a cardboard box, should be an April Fool’s hoax. I kinda heard about it before but ignored. Cardboard boxes are for Amazon packages and cat play after they arrive. High-tech gadgetry, c`mon? What? Is this the newest thing in recyclable tech? 

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Paywalls are killing my Budget

I just cancelled the Sunday New York Times and took digital-only (browser and smartphone) for $15 a month, discounted by half for 12 weeks. My most recent home delivery bill was $33 and some change. For Sundays! A promotion cutting the price in half for 6 months expired in April. I’m not eligible for another deal, and I don’t get $7-plus a week value from Sundays and all-access digital.

I’ve subscribed to the Times since 2001.

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Time Enough for What?

Are we all really so busy, that “the act of canceling a meeting or dinner date can constitute the most precious gift one busy professional can bestow on another”. That’s apparently the way of the modern business world, according to story, “Pencil It In Under ‘Not Happening’“, appearing in tomorrow’s New York Times.

“In an overscheduled world, are there any words more lovely than, ‘Can we reschedule?'” writes Alex Williams. I won’t deny that some cancelled meetings are cause for celebration. The Times quotes psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell: “With cellphones and BlackBerries, people are too reachable. We sign up for too much. So when fate intervenes, it’s better than found money. It’s found time“. 

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Sifting Garbage

We are such bad Washingtonians, maybe; my family’s newspaper of choice is the New York Times—and even then we only get the Sunday paper (rest of the week is online). Today, my wife asked about Tim Russert, who had a Q&A, “All About My Father“, in the Times Sunday Magazine. Conversation took place on the Capital Beltway somewhere between US 1 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

Tim is one of my favorite Washington journalists. He’s got a pragmatic style that rips through nonsense and gets to the point of the conversation or topic. When I worked as an editor more than a decade ago, my editor—great guy, Stephen Osmond—would repeatedly ask, “What’s the point?” Answering that question made me a better editor. In fact for years, a Post-It with the question hung over my work phone. 

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It’s Miller Time No More

Earlier today, the New York Times officially dismissed reporter Judith Miller. In a to-the-point, bare-most-of-the-facts story, Times reporter Katharine Seelye writes of her colleague’s departure. While the Times and Miller “reached an agreement yesterday that ended her 28-year career,” it was a dismissal, as far as I’m concerned. The story carries tomorrow’s dateline.

I cheered for Miller when during summer she went to jail rather than give up a source. But since, oddities emerged about her involvement in the CIA leak case, her real reasons for going to jail, and her eventual testimony before a grand jury. 

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The Times is Right

In October, I slammed the New York Times for leading off a story about the Bush-Kerry debate with a political ad for Kerry. That was bad form. Good form: Yesterday’s gripping analysis about U.S. aid in the wake of the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean. With respect to U.S. aid response, the story’s headline makes the point: “It’s About Aid, and an Image.” I agree, and I contend that the country’s response so far has been slow and, yes, stingy.

Even viewed from the most selfish perspective possible, public relations, the Bush Administration missed an important opportunity in the hours following the horrific disaster, which, I might add, based on the number of missing Americans, might have a death toll close to the Twin Towers disaster.