Wednesday, April 13, 2011

God Bless the New York Times

Today’s Times, that poor battered Gray Lady, has three very important opinion pieces that I want to share with you: two editorials and the weekly conversation between Conservative David Brooks and Progressive (though often a little lightweight) Gail Collins.

The first editorial is Budget Battles: The Price of Ill-Conceived Cuts:

“Mayor Vincent Gray of Washington was so angry that the budget deal prohibited his city from spending its own money on abortion that he blocked traffic outside the Capitol, getting arrested in the process. His rage was a sharp departure from the general self-congratulation of Democratic leaders and President Obama’s failure to tell the truth about the budget deal for this year: It ushers in a denuded era of loss to vital government services, mostly at the expense of the most vulnerable...” Click link to read all.

The second editorial is Budget Battles: Tax and Spending Myths and Realities:

“Here are two numbers to keep in mind when thinking about the House Republicans’ budget plan: They want to cut spending on government programs over the next decade by $4.3 trillion. And they want to cut tax revenues over the same period by $4.2 trillion...” Click link to read all.

Last but not least, One Step Forward, 20 More to Go by David Brooks and Gail Collins:

Gail Collins: David, now President Obama’s going to make a budget-balancing speech. I guess it could be worse. It’s better than having him announce another war. But I’ll bet you’re more eager to hear what he has to say than I am.

David Brooks: I couldn’t be more excited. I’m hoping he’ll do the whole Ross Perot thing. Bring out some charts. Show the American people the scale of the problem…” Click link to read all.

I left a comment on this piece. It’s #163 and I hope you’ll take a look at it, too.

The budget business aside for a moment, I want to say a few kind words about The New York Times. I know it’s become popular to trash the Times, though I’m not sure why. Yes, they have an abysmal number of typos, outrageous for a paper of their unique stature, but apparently copy editors are expendable in favor of reporters and Web masters. The online site is, I believe, the best news site on the Internet and definitely the best newspaper site.

I’m sure you know that the Times is now charging a subscription fee for the site, which has a lot of folks up in arms. While I appreciate that this sets an unfortunate precedent, I’m confident that it’s necessary for them – and you should know that anyone can review the homepage anytime and as often as you like, and, you can read any 20 articles on any page for free each month.

I’d be lost without the Times online, and there are several ways to get ones money’s worth. Subscribers can either have unlimited access to the site on computer and they’ll give you one or more aps for your assorted communications devices. Since I don’t have any devices (not even a cell phone!), I opted to get some form of home delivery of the print version, which automatically gives me unlimited online access. So I got just the Saturday/Sunday papers (the cheapest subscription at about $13 a month).

I got my first papers this past weekend and I was shocked. It was like seeing an old friend in the midst of a terrible illness. The entire paper is smaller; no longer the majestic broadsheet. And every section is thin as a rail. The Book Review is virtually a pamphlet. The Magazine is a shadow of its former self and all the sections are a few pages each. Most stunning are the classifieds, once a massive section in and of itself, now just two pages in the business section in what must be 5pt or 6pt type.

For most of my life, the Sunday Times was a massive fixture, first in my parents’ home, later in mine. But like millions of other people, I abandoned the print version in favor of the more immediate and less cluttering online site. I knew the Times was in trouble and that newspapers are dropping like flies nationwide. But I didn’t know how bad it had gotten. It frightens me to see the Times in this condition and to think about what print journalism will become if all print newspapers go the way of the typewriter. Something important to consider in these ever-increasingly dumbed-down times.

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