Friday, November 04, 2005

Time to Cancel your NY Times Subscription? Atcheson Speaks

A thoughtful essay....but lately I realize that most of Truthout is based on the superb reporting of the NY Times. I love my Times, hate the in-fighting that goes on. Judith Miller, Jason Blair, all the folk have their problems, but the measure of the paper is its funding of quality reporting. We have to go to the Guardian to find substantial facts....look at any small "local" paper and compare it to the Times....there's no there there.

Published on Thursday, November 3, 2005 by
Why I Canceled The New York Times
by John Atcheson

Dear Mr. Sulzberger:

There's been a lot of moaning and gnashing of teeth about the fall in circulation among major newspapers, including yours. I regret to inform you, you just lost another customer. Allow me to explain why.

The Times' 11/2 coverage of the Senate private session forced by Rule 21 was among the most biased I've encountered by a major newspaper and I'm 56 and read several papers a day, so that's a large sample over a very long time.

"Partisan Quarrel Forces Senators to Bar the Doors" doesn't even approximate the nature of the issue being raised.

Placing the story in the lower left hand corner doesn't assign it the importance it deserves.

"Democrats Force Reckoning of Pre-War Intelligence" would describe the content and its import far more accurately.

And for the record, the lead is not Bill Frist's anger -- it's what you chose to split in half, burying the important part on Page 14. To wit: Pat Roberts has slow-walked an examination of whether and how the administration skewed intelligence in the run-up to the Iraqi War.

Lying the nation into a war is a big deal. A very big deal. The soon to be indicted Mr. Frist's anger is not.

This paper now has the dubious distinction of being an accomplice to the selling of a war entered into under false pretenses; enabling the election of the war mongers who prosecuted this war by delaying the investigation of Plamegate until after the 2004 election by pandering to an out of control reporter who spearheaded your paper's role in spreading faked intelligence; all but ignoring the Downing Street Memos which proved the administration lied; and now, downplaying the importance of a crucial -- and heroic -- action to get Americans the truth.

Truth, by the way, used to be the pole star which guided the New York Times. Under your reign it no longer is. And that is why I, along with hundreds of thousands of others, are canceling our subscriptions, and why the younger generation considers your paper irrelevant.

He-said, she-said reporting is neither interesting, nor informative. Biased reporting such as your paper has been exhibiting lately, is worse -- it's boringly predictable, and it misinforms.

The press was granted special status in the First Amendment because the founding fathers believed an informed citizenry was vital to a functioning democracy. That special status came with a codicil -- the duty to report the truth (not, as the Times seems to think, the duty to protect reporters who assist in spreading lies).

Truth. That's what's at issue here. And that's what you've once again all but ignored in this latest example of being a mouthpiece for Republicans.

Wednesday's paper, my last, raised biased reporting to an art form -- a very dark art.

The Soviet-era Pravda would be proud of your recent record, and your role as government mouthpiece in the Iraqi debacle.

You should be ashamed. And you should seek to right this sad chapter in our nation's history -- a history that the Times helped author -- at every opportunity. Instead, you compound it.

When you are replaced, Mr. Sulzberger, I will consider reading the Times again.

Until then, Good night and good luck.

John Atcheson's writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, as well as in several policy journals.



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