Don’t Cancel That Newspaper Subscription

Jun 29, 2020 · 532 comments
Bill (South Carolina)
I retain an online subscription to NYT simply to see what leftists, liberals and progressives think is real. The NYT panders to these groups. It would be refreshing to read an article or editorial from the conservative point of view, but it may well be against their policy. So much for balance.
ChrisW (DC)
I cancelled my subscription to the Washington Post, both print and e version, because I am distressed that it is losing its formerly impartial reporting of real news and falling into the “if it bleeds, it leads” Camp, supposedly to keep readers interested when there is a world of click bait. Seeing as I have lived in DC on and off for over 40 years, and worked for the federal government, to the pint I would have the Sunday print edition sent to me in China when you often would get three weeks in one diplomatic pouch, this is a major thing for me. But more and more, it was a slice and dice of other news, most of the local relevant local news was on.y available on-line, and I can’t physically because of eye issues spend more than an hour or two a day staring at a screen. They abandoned the free tabloid that at least provided a little, although more on the line of USA Today, in local news. And the attacks and elitism of many of the columnists to people who weren’t their gender, race, education, income, or taste in the arts got so tiresome. Instead of reporting the news, most of the Post’s current columnists are preachy and boring. This isn’t journalism; it’s people with an ax to grind. And I don’t miss the Post one bit.
Just Me (California)
If I'm canceling it's either because I can't afford it or because it's too far right which is nothing but the National Inquirer for news. I do think that all newspapers that speak about news should be held to a high standard and should not be owned by just a few people. It's unfortunate that we've had headlines that are very disturbing. The NY Times headline was the death of 2 or 3 white people after whites burned down the town of Tulsa. There was no mention of how many Blacks they killed. As long as it's true journalism and not Star magazine quality reporting, I'll keep my subscription. But I do need to afford it during these trying times when people are losing their jobs.
James J (Kansas City)
Newspapers since Reagan have become businesses whose motives are no different than those of big auto, big Pharma, big agriculture. Chains and their ravenous stockholders have gobbled them up in pursuit of profits, not journalism. Bean counters hold more sway over product than journalists. Here in Kansas City, the Star was sucked up by McClatchy, which borrowed billions of dollars to buy up assets from Knight Ridder. This at a time of dipping circulation, ad revenue and when savvy businessmen saw a crash coming. With debut servicing becoming all-dictating, the result was mass firings of talented, seasoned pros in editorial and the hiring of inexperienced, under-talented, minimum-wage paid J-school grads. The once-very good Star is a joke. Upper management in KC and Sacramento (home base of McClatchy) remains highly paid. Cost for a yearly subscription -- well over $600 and for college-level journalism. Margaret, send me $600 and I will re-subscribe and pay for horrendous decisions by morons on Grand Ave. and Sacramento.
Robert Spurrier (Ipswich MA)
So why is the Times, as of 8:30 Monday June 29, not printing this article in the print edition to let more readers know the importance of saving newspapers? Thanks from a print subscriber since 1962.
Quiet Waiting (Texas)
I can agree with Margaret Renkl's argument that newspapers should be forgiven their errors - as I would wish to be forgiven for mine. But I also ask her to consider an additional reason that people are dropping their newspaper subscriptions: the increasingly biased nature of so many of those papers. The two offenders of greatest concern to me are the two newspapers that I read every day: the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. In both cases, there have been multiple instances of bias displayed by omission, by by the lack of balance in the comments section, and, in the case of the NYT, by the recent dismissal of an editor. At both the local and national level, every nation needs at least one paper of record - a newspaper whose commitment to equal treatment of all perspectives and whose commitment to the publication of all news regardless of the offense such news may cause its readers is unshakable. Such papers could survive online even if they cannot survive in print. But those two commitments must be present.
Zetelmo (Minnesota)
My local small town newspaper is mediocre at best. Now they have cancelled my lifetime subscription. I'm going to leave it that way.
carlo1 (Wichita)
Today's newspapers, including the Tennessean, are facing a massive economic pandemic that will affect way I will get my news but I doubt other people will pay for the news when there are TV, radio, and cable. And what am I getting? News about an Administration with transparency? It's trump who has ... tweeted, tweeted without evidence, retweeted without explanation, has denied, declined to say, declined to answer, offered few details, dodged the question, hasn’t decided how to respond, never heard of this, Fake News, nobody's been tougher, and 'I don't know the guy'. New catch-words ...'Now-deleted video', 'no new strategies', and my favorite ... 'spoken on the condition of anonymity' have invaded our news lexicon (with 'cozy' deserving an off-topic mention). Journalists should be saluted. They put their lives on the front lines in wars, disasters, hospitals and in John's case, a bridge.
sparty b (detroit, mi)
journalism is one of the KEY parts of our democracy.
Fred (Springfield)
Copied from the internet: "Younger Americans will have trouble believing this, but there was once this guy named Walter Cronkite, who would read the news on television every week night. He didn't seem to have an agenda, or try to make anybody look bad, or good. He would just read the news, and then, get this ... WE WOULD ALL JUST MAKE UP OUR OWN MINDS ABOUT WHAT WE THOUGHT. He didn't interview smarmy opinionated talking heads, he just read the news, matter of factly, and then he would just sign off and shut up. I'm not making this up."
Aras Paul (Los Angeles)
I would suggest not cancelling, but moving subscription dollars can be powerful. For example, there is work the Times needs to do regarding fighting to keep an “objective” tone that fundamentally normalizes everything as “both sides” heck, it can’t even use the word lie. Those who are unsubscribing are not killing the Times, but working to get the attention of editors who continue to think that Trump is different in tone, not in kind.
Ace (NJ)
Notwithstanding Mr. Seigenthaler, journalists as héros, for doing their job. Boy (and girl and other) the standard for heroism has diminished. How about reporters report and stop providing their opinion as a replacement for facts.
JJ (Denver, Co.)
Not a chance of that happening.
David Biesecker (Pittsburgh)
I stopped my subscription to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a year and a half ago. John R. Block, the owner, went full-on Trump. I was fine with that. Then they published a controversial editorial defending Trump's racism. Then they fired their political cartoonist. Then they brought in a new editor and the newsroom is now toxic. Then they took a black journalist and a black photographer off the BLM protest coverage for bias purposes. I can stomach the Cal Thomas columns, but have difficulty with the Tucker Carlson columns. I'm a strong believer in journalism but it almost seems that the paper is pushing people like me away. The problem is: who's going to take my place? My guess is that the folks who see no racism in Donald Trump and who love Tucker Carlson don't read the local paper. I feel bad for not subscribing, but it seems to me that the Post-Gazette keeps digging itself in a bigger hole.
WYB (Upper Midwest)
I have been an online subscriber of the Times for several years and I cannot imagine my life without it. Yes, not perfect, but beautiful writing in a wide range of topics. I do read other local papers but nothing can compare with the Times. Journalism is safe in its hands.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
The story's lede is wrong, when it states, "News organizations make mistakes. But shunning them will only hasten the death of journalism itself." In the decade of the mid-Sixties through the mid-Seventies, those of us who believed the corporate media was somewhere between useless and counterproductive, created our own alternative newspapers. In places both large and small, papers sprang up that both reflected and helped to create a very viable, quality alternative narrative to that presented by the regular papers and TV. From the "Berkeley Tribe" to Atlanta's "Great Speckled Bird" to Boston's "Gay Community News" to Houston's "Space City" to Washington's "Quicksilver Times" to "Madness Network News" to the "Oracle" and many others, a generation took control over the information network it lived in. Pre-Silicon Valley San Jose had four different papers, and even Barstow had one. Notably, while most were self-professedly advocates of one sort or another, most were also quite dedicated to facts rather than rumors. One of my worries about the current "oppositional" younger generation is that they have developed no non-corporate way of their own to communicate, let alone project and promote their aspirations. Whining on Facebook or even commenting to the Times is not reliable when push comes to shove. Or even before.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
There is a world of difference between a real newspaper and online media, even if both are run by the same outfit. A paper is limited by the actual cost of physical production and distribution. Thus, the editorial process becomes extremely important, as decisions have to be made as to what is worthy of the very limited column inches available. Online, production and distribution costs are pretty much the same for one and one hundred "pages", and the ability to continually change a story is also essentially almost free. In addition, the ability to change a story has become a "necessity" in an age where people's attention span and willingness to delve deeply into an issue is pretty much length and depth of a bumpersticker. This is true across the board. The Times did not have five Tara Reade stories running simultaneously in the print edition as it did on the online Home Page. If you want better perspective, get the hard copy of a paper. Someone who often actually knows what they are doing, an experienced editor, will have had to make the hard choices necessary in its production. Good local papers are even more important. Local issues may not be as "sexy", but they will cover what affects your daily life and need the support of the community to stay in business. I have taken to reading a number of "papers" online from around the country for perspective nationals do not provide. If available, I will read multiple "papers" from the same community to get even more perspective.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
As to complaints about the internet corporations destroying ad revenue for media corporations: when alternative press papers would get a few ads in the '60s and '70s, the F.B.I. would threaten advertisers if they didn't pull their ads. If there are actually any young people reading here, I will repeat what I said before, essentially reduced to "Deal with it!" One of my worries about the current "oppositional" younger generation is that they have developed no non-corporate way of their own to communicate, let alone project and promote their aspirations. Whining on Facebook or even commenting to the Times is not reliable when push comes to shove. Or even before.
Dave (Binghamton)
I find it presumptuous to suggest that newspapers should get a free pass on mistakes, no matter how egregious.
David (Oak Lawn)
I believe the United States military has used Active Denial Systems against me at least three times for sharing non-secret, political information. Once in 2014 when I was going to meet Glenn Greenwald to talk about 9/11; once in 2017 when I was posting all sorts of government corruption for all to see on the Huffington Post; and once before Super Tuesday because my favored candidate was Bernie Sanders. I was also intimidated on July 4, 2019, because of my commenting on Epstein, a day or two before he was arrested. They have taken away my First Amendment right to free speech.
Paul Young (Los Angeles)
One must be sad, no weep, for the dimunition of journalism in America today. We must decry the hedge fund managers and other corporate types who buy media outlets and then shed jobs and bureaus and investigative units and local, national and foreign news coverage to make the almighty ROI. The almighty ROI. One is so sad, leaving aside but equally sad for the on-air/cable media, but so importantly for newspapers. The glue of a city, town, or village. So many gone. So many great and dedicated journalists and craftspeople just ...gone. The vast majority of newspapers' coverage thinned to unacceptable levels. Levels so low that we the public don't get all the news we need to know to do our jobs as citizens properly. But to fail to subscribe to newspapers? No. We need to support those who love and support the 1st Amendment and cherish their work. Even when they make mistakes. So, like many others, I subscribe to three newspapers: NY Times, Washington Post and my home Los Angeles Times. And, WOW, have I seen the decline of the LA Times over the years. It is just amazing. A shadow of its' former self. But I still support it. It takes subscribers and advertisers to stay alive and, one is hopeful, over time begin the long procress of becoming a decent paper. The Chandler years will never return. Perhaps a credible paper working the area and natl./intl. news will return.
Sarah (Kentucky)
I understand and share the author’s love for local newspapers. I grew up reading the Memphis Commercial Appeal every day. I continued to subscribe to it for years, even as I moved around the country. As one now living in the Cincinnati region, I subscribed to both the daily papers. The evening daily went first, a victim of some hedge fund that decided they needed a great return on their investment. The remaining morning daily, the Cincinnati Enquirer, now owned by Gannett, decided to focus on “storytelling” as opposed to real news. And I soon tired of reading national news from USA Today, helpfully included in the Enquirer. After several years of digital subscriptions, I decided to let it go. There was no real news outside of the occasional investigative story about Cincinnati, and lots of fluff submitted by local businesses. Interestingly, the sports section always seemed to grow—I guess it is cheaper to produce sports news. As much as it pains me, I no longer have a local paper. I subscribe to both the NY Times and the Washington Post, and surf the local TV stations for local news. After giving it my best effort, I have decided that the local papers no longer offer any value. I sincerely hope the hedge funds and big organizations like Gannett flame out, as well.
Mllea (North Carolina)
Been out of work for 2.5 months and only have two thirds of my clients back but I subscribe to NYT, WaPo and my local paper. This is my act of patriotism to be part of the fight against this terrifying attack against democracy and America's history of moving to be better.
David (Seattle)
Thank you. I write for a small, local newspaper. Our newspaper is on the verge of shutting due to loss of advertising. We have lost 90% of advertising during the pandemic. Our publisher fearlessly, somehow is finding new sources of advertising and revenue. To be honest, I think we do a better job than our much bigger cousin here, which sometimes seem swayed by stereotype in its coverage. Perhaps smaller newspapers, community newspapers, with their very narrow scope, and their direct accountability to the community they serve have to be painstakingly accurate not just in detail but in perspective. They have to adopt the most empowering perspective of the community they serve. Long ago, I used to work for one of the leading national magazines as a correspondent. It was totally different. It's not that we weren't accountable or not factual. It's just that we weren't personally tied to the people we wrote about, so the writing became sort of generic, and more about some point we were trying to make in the article, or something we were trying to prove or show. Here, it's like we have to try to give voices to people who might not otherwise have them, and we have to do it in a way they would accept and be proud of.
minimum (nyc)
I've read the Times for more than 6 decades. I love my 7-day subscription; not cheap at nearly $1,000.00/year. I'm happy to add that my local paper, the Gannett-owned Westchester/Rockland Journal News has been upgraded in the last year and features excellent local coverage. Well worth the nearly $500/year cost. On newsprint and online, both papers are a daily necessity. Long may they prosper.
Jeanne-dArc (Boston, MA)
The day after the 2017 Inauguration, I wrote a letter to the editor of our paper, begging the American press to report facts and not trump's propaganda... (remember "alternate facts?"). One day in, and already, trump was complaining about network and newspaper coverage that showed his Inauguration's undersized crowds (compared to Obama's), and charging that the press lied. From Sean Spicer's ravings, to trump threatening the U.S. Park service to find more convincingly crowded aerial photos, he was setting the bar for how high he expected journalistic coverage to massage his sensitive ego. Such an unpresidential tantrum was disgusting, and I believed the press was the only outlet that could keep our country on an even keel - if they were vigilant, accurate and unintimidated. It would be an about-face from his freak-show campaign coverage where the press couldn't get enough of, and repeated his every oddball tweet. Still, the Election hangover had passed and it was a crucial time to get serious. I have not been disappointed - I have 3 subscriptions for newspapers, which I read daily and I have to praise all of the reporting - OK, even the views I don't typically agree with...That's how this country will come together one day again. Finding common ground.
PaulaLW (East Lansing, MI)
In 2016, the Republicans had made a big point in Michigan of having "poll watchers" at many polling stations to be sure no fraud happened. It was intimidating, even though I knew I was registered and would be able to vote. I called our local paper and asked them to report on what a poll watcher could do--and I told them I was intimidated and didn't want to have to justify myself to some vigilante. To my great joy and amazement, they ran short columns on the front page three days in a row to explain what such watchers could do--which was very limited. They could not talk to us voters at all, and couldn't embarrass us by making a scene. I knew several other people who were uncomfortable with that idea of poll watchers, so that was a real service from our paper!
david (Montana)
TIMELY PIECE! I was just 'this close' to cancelling my N.Y.Times subscription whicb I've had ever since it was 'free' online. And even after charging for it, I maintained it. Along with The Washington Post. But over the past couple of months, well, there were a couple of pieces that just made me sit back for a bit to reconsider my love-affair with this paper. Tom Cotton's piece was one such article. But, taking the LONG VIEW, I knew that things would work themseleves out, and you guys would 'right yourselves' and in due course, the paper. I'm continuing my subscriptions to both, which would have expired July 1st. I'M GRATEFUL YOU'RE HERE!
Aaron Elliott (New York)
I have read the local paper since I was 8 years old and subscribed as an adult since. The cost is now three hundred dollars a year. One third of the cost is the newsprint. They got me online to WAPO which is a hundred dollars a year. NYT gets seventeen dollars a month from me for digital copy. They are all worth the cost for the work they do.
Callie (Maine)
Lovely, cogent essay.
Jim (USA)
The Memphis Commercial Appeal was also bought by Gannet. I canceled my subscription a few months after the takeover, partly because of the lack of local news coverage, but more because of the absolute absence of customer service. The CA isn't even printed in Memphis anymore. It's trucked in from Jackson, 90 miles away. Fortunately in Memphis there is an alternative. I subscribe to The Daily Memphian, an online only news source created by a group of outstanding reporters, all fired by Gannet. I also subscribe to the NYT and Washington Post, all three for about the same cost as Gannet's Commercial Appeal version of USA Today. Journalism survives, and perhaps even thrives in adversity.
Richard Buthod (St Louis)
Every morning the Post-Dispatch and the Times, each has its purpose. Also by subscribing to both I double the pay of my carrier without increasing his gasoline bill.
Craig Lucas (Putnam Valley, NY)
This made me cry.
Padfoot (Portland, OR)
OK, Ms. Renkl, I'll keep supporting the Times even though some stories anger me. But if the papers starts writing about Joe Biden's emails I may have to reconsider. (And I do support my local paper, the Oregonian.)
Dorothy Wiese (San Antonio Tx)
I read my local paper “The San Antonio Express News” online. My husband thinks the paper version is not safe. I still get the paper delivered and read the non headline sections next day. I get The Sunday copy of the New York Times and read next day. I also get the WAPO but just digital as they don’t delivered here
There is no need to add unnecessary carbon and ink to the environment in this high-tech era.
Former Caddy Turned Buick (UWS)
Indeed...a print newspaper is almost physically repulsive to me...NY Times app is state of the art...I love how my iPhone can read it to me as I go about my day...
OldPadre (Hendersonville NC)
The local paper in Hendersonville, North Carolina, is the Times-News. There's a bigger paper in a bigger city up north--Asheville, but we have the Times. I've long-subscribed, even as their staff went down and the quality with it, while the price steadly went up. Recently, the Times became a Gannett paper, leaving a paper clinging to life with a total staff of 3. It's now essentially USA Today with an occasional local bit when the sole reporter covers something. To call it a local paper is a huge stretch. And yet we subscribe, though we now share the subscription with neighbors. We believe that the loss of the Times. pathetic as it is, would be a serious blow to town and community. That may well happen. In a sense it already has, because the rumor mill has more timely and accurate information. Because we know our subscription matters, we'll be here to the end, even if the paper's only useful to line the cat's litter box.
Hector Pefo (San Francisco)
As a consumer, there is nothing wrong with voting with your feet. Sure, support journalism! But no particular media company is owed my fealty, and if I think company X has been a normalizer and enabler of horrible things, I will indeed shift my journalism dollar elsewhere. I suspect (and hope) that departures of NYT subscribers fed up with editorial judgements have helped lead to much-needed change.
Chicago Guy (Chicago, Il)
Obviously, the Times is one of the last great newspapers left. But to be fair, even they have mostly succumbed to market trends which require all news to be sensationalized. Articles are often titled with words like so-and-so, "slams", so-and-so, or they have been, "ripped in to", with this or that twitter message. Is there any doubt that the reasoned and measured writing of the past is no longer on the horizon anymore. Yes, occasionally the Times does do an in-depth article with really substantive reporting. And those usually garner a lot of comments about how, "This is why I love the NYT's!". But those are fewer are further between aren't they? I don't blame the Times for this - markets change. I do however blame the mass dumbing-down of the population at large. Any society in which a "news" outlet like Fox News can garner so much market share is obviously showing serious mental, intellectual, educational, and moral decline. Not to mention something like InfoWars. It's as if we are on the verge of a new Dark Age. And the GOP gets the lion share of the blame for this. Alt-reality? Really? That's nothing but lies posing as the truth. When a large portion of the population believes that science is "just an opinion", no better or worse than any other, and that racism is, "just a different point of view", what else can one say? Other than that society is in complete free-fall. In this country today, intellectual rigor has been thoroughly supplanted by conspiracy theory.
Jim Miller (Old Saybrook CT)
The false premise of the headline for this article is that existing media companies are the only possible source of well reported news. If one newspaper closes, nothing stops the writers and editors from starting a new paper, blog or any other delivery mechanism to sell their product.
Maridee (USA)
Gannett and Gatehouse have ruined a lot of local papers, which no longer cover local issues the way previous owners have done so back in the day. I wouldn't turn to them for any sort of news; it's too easy to call my town hall and my other government leaders to get answers to questions I need. If you can't even provide the local coverage necessary to set yourself apart from the bigger companies, what good is it? Most of these "news" sites, which already do not serve the public interest but rather the corporate stockholders', depend on clicks and do not care about providing any sort of meaningful coverage. But your screen will be bombarded with useless, often flashing ads based on cookies which makes even opening a page on the site a great annoyance. Use an adblocker and you get nothing from the site at all. Meantime, Murdoch and Sinclair ruined television so it's just propaganda and puppy dogs - the REAL fake news. The dangerous, brainwashing-of-your-grandpa type "news." Good journalists have lost their incomes and all of us in the public suffer because there are no longer regular reporters or correspondents covering council meetings, zoning board or school board meetings, our state capitols, etc. Our biggest problem is social media Twitler and Rose Garden briefings, where the Resident of the United States - a devil without peer - shuts off microphones when he doesn't like the questions, or when he muzzles scientists during a pandemic, and lies, lies, lies.
Charles E Dawson (Woodbridge, VA)
I grew up in Vermont in the 50's. It was a small town, but Moriarty's Pharmacy fed my first addictions. There were always root beer barrels, but on Sunday there was my dad's copy of the NYT, and the course of my day was set. There was the world. Somewhere things went wrong. The young half of America doesn't 'get' the idea of a newspaper; and the papers haven't moved off their very embedded foundations. The press is fundamental to our nation's health, but it has not found the formula for this new age. I think to do this, it has to go back to the roots of the business - information. Not the headlines, not the stridency of op-ed - but the great stuff - what the press probably thinks of as "filler". There is too too much information in the world. When the press just slops it out, readers go elsewhere. So the press needs to do two things with this smelly, steaming heap of data - curate it, and data mine it. The NYT does some of this well - its cooking pages, its 72 Hours In ...., its wine articles, its wide range of stories you don't see elsewhere. But it doesn't do it enough. When everybody has the headlines, papers need to cultivate their ability to provide a breadth of information. Be a bit more magazine like. More on Music, Dance, Environmental issues. And the NYT could be the savior of many small papers. What if regional papers had a NYT based Sunday Supplement. The world the headlines left behind. A world their readership would want to spend a Sunday afternoon with.
Anderson (Washington, DC)
There is a huge journal inequality. Some, like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, produce most of the news and have most of the readership. The local news are dying... But, perhaps the NYT could work to help to advance equity among newspapers by committing to some simple but effective actions: - Provide access for free to its content for subscribers of small, mostly local, newspapers, after contractual arrangements made with these papers. - Provide access to local news in its own website, sourced from local papers. - Take a more neutral stance on current affairs, thus contributing to reduce this dangerous polarization. Lesser polarized news tend to be more bland, less profitable, yet allowing more space for community-based news that are relevant at the local level. Will the NYT commit?
Michael (Hollywood, CA)
I still subscribe to a half-dozen newspapers -- two delivered to my door daily -- and my criteria for selecting these, and not others, is very simple. I ask two questions. 1.) Does the publication in question employ paid fact-checkers?; 2.) Does the publication in question print corrections / retractions? If the answer to either of these queries is "no," I steadfastly ignore it (and certainly don't pay any money for it) --
DH94114 (San Francisco)
Just cancelled the San Francisco Chronicle. Despite several complaints, they couldn’t fix the system that blocked me from reading, as a subscriber, with an ad blocker. Terrible paper Is bad enough, but pay to get blocked? No thanks.
Grant (Boston)
Earth to Margaret Renkl, journalism is dead, and you and the other NY Times columnists are prime examples. Incessantly intending to inflame rather than inform while promoting fear as fodder to feed the multitudes has worked to ingest your own young acolytes. These once open and eager writers, now intimidated, are unable to stew the pot or vary the handed-out script. With academia in lockstep, inquiry is warped to conform as group think is now across the board. Local now mirrors national as individuality is considered a character flaw. Goodbye newspapers: journalists have sold out.
Alex (California)
Unlike the Tennessean though, the New York Times *does* have the resources to make the right decisions. I actually cancelled my subscription a few days ago, in the aftermath of two fundamental disagreements that I have with NYT leadership and which I cannot reconcile. First, the decision to indulge the illiberal staff revolt, disavow an op-ed by a prominent senator who has the ear of the president, fire the editor to appease said staff, and replace that editor with a far-left activist. The whole saga shows a stunning lack of judgment and conviction, with the paper's leadership abdicating its responsibility to teach the next generation of journalists the value of spirited public debate and the evils of censorship by powerful institutions. Second, the decision to doxx Scott Alexander, the pseudonymous author of a blog called Slate Star Codex, which seems to be a policy decision by the paper and not merely a mistake made by a single journalist (which would be forgivable). When it's the leadership of a paper that makes consciously harmful decisions, even with plenty of time to reconsider, it's reasonable - perhaps even normatively good - to take one's subscription money elsewhere.
Bhaskar (Dallas, TX)
The science and puzzles were the reasons I had not canceled my subscription. But this paper has let politics infiltrate even the science section. So the puzzles are the the only reason I renewed my subscription recently. Nowadays almost all newspapers have become propaganda platforms of identity politics and a certain political party, that the only place to find apolitical investigative journalism is on my toilet paper.
Steve (Santa Monica, CA)
What a rich suggestion. Only weeks ago did a NYT columnist suggest canceling 'Paw Patrol', the children't cartoon, because one of the characters is a police dog and the negative implication as such.
Carla (Tallahassee, FL)
The first thing I did after the 2016 election was subscribe to the Washington Post and the Tallahassee Democrat, along with my New York Times subscription, the New Yorker, and The Atlantic Monthly. These trying times require support of honest and trained journalists and the newspapers and magazines that hire them.
Chris (Los Angeles)
None the arguments made here apply to the one paper I am thinking of canceling: NYT itself. I'm watching a paper that I have read for many years turn into a parody of itself. James Bennet's firing is the worst symptom yet, but there have been many other problems. What should a reader do to show their alarm when a paper loses its objectivity? Or just vers way too far to the left? I get that other readers like this change, perhaps a majority, so maybe canceling is the right move.
Paulf (LA)
Ms. Renkl, thanks for reminding us that we do NO FAVORS to journalism when we cancel in a fit of anger our subscriptions! It is astounding to me that people cannot tell the difference between "FAKE NEWS" and real/objective, factual based reporting. It is astonishing to me that people actually use facebook and Fox as their news sources (and, no, I do not promote CNN as a truly fact-based news organization). For that I'll leave true objectivity to "News and News," NPR, BBC; and secondarily, with left-wing non-objective emphases in the articles, to the NY Times and the LA Times. But still, regardless of their "left-leaning" tendencies, both the NYT and LA Times are wonderful, generally trust-worthy sources of news.
Somebody (Somewhere)
Local journalism is great and I support it when I can. But papers like this one have become so partisan I will have to cancel my subscription. I cannot support a paper that is so invested in its political "ideals" - which mostly seem to consist of pushing this country to a Cuban or Venezuelan "utopia" - that it has abandoned any standards re reporting about the "enemy". Your characterization of an op-ed piece, written by a US Senator, that voiced an opinion that is actually shared by a majority of Americans is a perfect example. The number of WRONG stories you have published, sourced to unnamed, partisan haters of the current administration, many requiring retractions or corrections... eventually... cause many to lose faith that this paper has any sense of fairness. One was the article published, in the news section, was about Nikki Haley's expensive curtains which one of the last paragraphs (deep in the article)admitted that they were ordered by the Obama administration. Had to do a correction there too. The one positive I've seen is that there is some push back from your own - paying - a bit. That's been the case for a while on your positions re immigration but the criticisms of Blow's column today and the reparations op-ed by your Pulitzer Prize winning reporter were amazing to see. In this, and other comments, I'm seeing more saying they will cancel. But I'm sure you will find enough partisans who love your coverage to keep your model going.
Repatriate (US)
The NYT refuses now to publish opinion pieces that contradict its editors' opinions. That - not fear of reading something we didn't like - would be a good reason to cancel a subscription. Thank goodness for the WSJ, which has opinion pieces all over the map and whose readers don't swoon when confronted with "heresy". Nevertheless, we remain NYT subscribers. You're welcome, Ms Renkl.
Dog&Pony (northeastern seaboard)
I, too, cancelled my nytimes subscription. I stopped donating to NPR. I feel like both the Times and NPR have embraced the old adage, the ends justify the means. I could not agree less. If I want outrage bait journalism, or agitprop from editors that excoriate Native Americans on Twitter, I can easily find that without paying a hefty subscription fee. The Times has lost the plot. I'll be more than happy to come back if they find it again.
Pop (PA)
My father was in the newspaper business his entire life. He graduated with honors from a prestigious journalism school and rose through the ranks. During his career he was fortunate to have published a newspaper that won a Pulitzer. He past away recently and sadly lamented the collapse of journalism. During his last years, when he picked up a paper, whether regional or national, he could almost instantly find obvious bias on the front page ... a clear agenda behind what should be pure news reporting. Bias that may not have been obvious to the average reader, but blatant bias to a lifelong newspaper man ... how it was said, the adjectives used, what was not said, etc. For him, the once noble endeavor of journalism had become corrupted. But what really saddened my father was how the general public has accepted this corruption passively. Please, please voice your concerns about the ever worsening bias and agendas present within today's journalistic product. It's the only way to bring this critical profession back to its core ethics.
Julie R (Washington/Michigan)
Our small newspaper is run by a son who inherited it from his father. They are conservative and so is everything in their paper. On election day for president, this paper does not inform by listing the candidates policy positions but by their abortion stance. Everything, including editorials are selected for conservative consumption. They never investigate anything that has to do with Republican politicians and allow them to spin interviews without any push back. Church happenings are main stories. The editor is not even handed with letters to the editor. I tried for two decades to talk to the owner about making the paper more palatable to the masses. Unfortunately, no improvements lasted. The paper is in financial trouble now opening a side business making commercial signs. I wish I could support the paper. It could be so good. I canceled my subscription.
Oreamnos (NC)
Fine to publish thoughtless, biased opinions, just be sure you have more of questioning, intelligent, researched facts. E.g., Fauci, a smart epidemiologist limited to a simple goal, make sure number of ICU pts don't exceed # ventilators (flatten the curve.) An intelligent reporter might be interested in other approaches, like stopping the disease? Easier just to parrot "experts." And maybe some comics? Don't need sports.
Chris (L.A.)
I support journalism, amongst other ways by subscribing to the NYT, the WaPo and a a few magazines. However, I dropped my LA Times sub last year. Why? Because I got tired of reading what amounted to an endless op-ed piece. There was no more reporting, only pontificating and laughable bios of the writers, in some cases twice as long as the 'article' (I hasten to use the word) they had concocted. I won't belittle the forces (Google, Facebook, etc) who are killing journalism, but journalist should also look in the mirror and ask itself - are we still reporters? Or are we self-aggrandizing writers of opinion pieces?
Ronald B. Duke (Oakbrook Terrace, Il.)
Killing-off traditional local print newspapers, while not a goal of the NYT's internet-based growth strategy, is an inevitable effect of it. The Jimmy Olsens of the world, aspiring young journalists, need to look elsewhere for their future. Sorry!
I want another option (America)
Actual just the facts journalism wan an anomaly of the 20th Century. At this juncture all we have are narrative spinners, and anyone who doesn't read across the idealogical spectrum is completely misinformed. If this paper truly believes it was a mistake to publish Senator Cotton's Op-ed, then the masthead needs to change to "Just the News That Fits Our Preferred Narrative"
Eric (Bay Area)
Or... papers like this could get better opinion editors that didn't keep giving a megaphone to irrelevant voices like Bret Stephens or Hugh Hewitt. The investigative journalists are doing fine (the headline writers are another story), but like many, I find it increasingly morally indefensible to contribute my money towards the paychecks of Stephens, Friedman, and the like.
peversma (Long Island, NY)
Too late. After having the NYT delivered to my door for the past 20 or so years I had enough. The "journalism" here has become nothing more than the print version of MSNBC. The bias is so blatant they do not even printed to look at any issue with any semblance of objectivity nor is there any straight journalism remaining. Long gone are simply reporting of the facts. Now every story, every headline is essentially, everything democrats and the left do is great and every republican or conservative is terrible. Apparently this paper does not trust readers to think for themselves. The demonization of the police has no rival when it comes to this paper either. Every day it's one hit piece after the other. It's ironic that the editorial boar would never suggest to label an entire group on the actions of a few, that's racist, etc., etc. But they have no problem labeling the police with pronouns such as "them", "they", or blanket phrases such as "the police..." Most of all, this paper has become absolutely obsessed with race. If all I wanted to read and brood over about was race then this is the paper for it. They have forgotten that there are still other issues in the world. I always knew the NYT had liberal leanings but it has gone completely off the rails. Any objective person can see that this has become the Fox of the left. I prefer straight news and to decide for myself. Apparently they now cater to readers who want their minds to be made up for them.
lhc (silver lode)
Where is the guy he saved? Is he happy?
Michael (Los Angeles)
And that is why I have digital subscriptions to the NY Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.
Gregory (North Country, New York)
That advertising manager must have been desperate to accept such an ad. Already under pressure with declining circulation and advertising revenues, along comes the COVID crisis, further cutting off advertising prospects. Then comes along this full-page ad, presumably unsolicited. It must have blinded the manager to the loathsome content. Sad day for small-town newspaper journalism.
Sang Ze (Hyannis)
Too late. The USA press is dead.
TobyFinn (The Flatiron)
Today the NYT is trying to present itself as unbiased with a few Conservative writers like Brooks and Stephens. However, the over riding message is that all Whites are somehow Racists, all African American are victims of PTSD from the horror of Slavery, all Law Enforcement officers are Racist Brutes and so on! In NYC the NYT is supporting defunding the NYPD while shootings, murders and assaults on the Police are on the rise but not reported in the paper.
Chester (West Town)
Then maybe the NYTimes should cover ALL the news, not just what you want your political tribe to see and reinforce. For example, where are all the articles on the going ons of the CHAZ in Seattle? You know, all the shootings, assaults and vandalism in the name of BLM? This is the news that all the independent media is reporting but is never covered by the liberal national papers, for it might hurt their feelings or tarnish their worldview. My only regret is that the George Floyd protesters didn’t burn down the HQ of the Times, WaPo, CNN, Fox et cetera... you reap what you sow!
bull (tucson)
When the NYT gives back some Pulitzer Prizes for storys proved to be false maybe I will take another look! Press can’t even police itself honestly, why should anyone trust them?
joang27 (Amsterdam)
I grew up reading the NY and LA times with my family when we divided our time on both coasts. I freelanced for the LA Times and SD Union-Tribune (for a couple of decades) and in the last years, it has been a concern to me about the future of journalism. I began to feel optimistic when the NY Times seemed to strengthen its stance, yet I almost canceled my subscription after your biased front page campaign against Bernie Sanders in favor of Joe Biden. Pretty blatant stuff, and hardly the objective News to Fit. Then last month with the Cotton editorial, another series of Black Flags waved high. What does it take to get the Sulzberger dynasty to recalibate the standards of journalist within your no longer so holy inner sanctum. I get more credible reporting from the New Yorker. I wonder if you will print this. Probably not.
Bob (NYC)
Maybe instead of begging your subscribers to keep their useless subscriptions, you might try actually doing your job and producing something of value. I've been reading this publication for about 15 years nearly every day. I used to enjoy reading this publication. Now I honestly don't know why I bother. I know what you're about to say before you even say it.
Jake (New York NY)
Not a single day goes by without me wanting to cancel my subscription to the NY Times. Why? I dare you to find a single article in the news section that is not tainted with editorial opinion. The NYT apparently does not trust its readers enough to form our own judgments. I am also upset by recent events indicating that the editorial board must strictly adhere to liberal orthodoxy. The publishing of opinion pieces reflecting very radical opinions ( looting is justified, we are not entitled to our borders or citizenship, even violent criminals should not be imprisoned) while one editor lost his job for running a not so crazy piece advocating use of military if and only if civilian authorities were unable to protect lives and properties. Protests against the police are covered but an incident in which police attempting to respond to shots fired were driven back by an angry mob was not deemed worthy of mention. Obsessive fixation on identity issues are predictable and tiresome and relentless tallying of disparities without context unfairly presumes discrimination. Finally, the Times totally fails as a local NYC paper. Crime is rarely reported, for obvious reasons, local college teams are not covered and even movie times were removed several years ago when there still were movies.
Skip (Pasadena, CA)
I guess it was a “mistake” for the Times to minimize and slant coverage against Bernie Sanders in favor of rich white status quo Democratic candidates?
Daniel Metz (New York)
Don't blame people for cancelling their subscription to your paper when you fire your editors for committing the grave crime of publishing an op-ed from a sitting United States senator.
Demosthenes (NY)
The lack of proper editing doesn’t help. Spell check is not all that reliable. Also, real journalism is not “dear diary”. Check your opinions at the door.
Hector (Bellflower)
Speaking of journalistic death spirals, even though I had read the paper all my life, I canceled the LA Times because I got sick of the racist anti-Black, anti-Muslim, anti-Latino on-line comments the company allowed for a few years. It was sad watching the hefty newspaper waste away, like a beloved old friend with cancer, but when bigots took over the on-line comments, mad as hell I canceled home delivery. Now the paper is mostly skeleton with just a bit of worthwhile reading. LA is dying for a real big city paper.
Len (Duchess County)
Journalism is long gone. Instead of it, for the most part, are activists fully embedded in leftist causes. Witness the Mueller "investigation." That absolute hoax, all designed by democrat politicians and dirty cops at the FBI, to remove an elected President, to commit a coup, stands among the most dangerous events on the American landscape. For years, every story here, in the New York Times, assisted or helped to perpetual that absolute lie, that President Trump and his campaign somehow were agents of Putin. This paper never really investigated it all at. It helped to perpetuate it. And what it took to get this whole hoax actually investigated is a story in and of itself. Is this journalism? There is no news reporting any more from the likes of The New York Times. Just look at the front page. It's all just hate Trump and destroy Trump — and very much at the expense of truth.
paul (Pa.)
And the Narrative on the front page of the NYT is controlled by GLBTQ & their self forced fit to DISORDERED MINDS [INSANE}. Fire them all and report the TRUTH!
To Whom It May Concern (NY NY)
Defund the police but don’t defund the NYT? Got it.
Eric (St Louis)
With the fall of good journalism in medium-sized cities and small towns, we need communities and journalists to come together to develop an NPR type cooperative for quality print journalism. Allow advertising; it will come back when readership grows. Cooperate ownership is what is destroying these newspapers. Make them nonprofits and community institutions.
John Chastain (Michigan - (heart of the Great Lakes))
At one time Michigan was served by two major dailies The Detroit News and the Detroit Free press. One leaned conservative and the other liberal. Both were known for excellence in their coverage. These papers are not a shadow of their former selves because of competition from the internet. They were willfully destroyed by Night Ridder’s obsession with higher levels of profit. This misguided strategy driven by Tony Ridders ambition and arrogance has decimated more newspapers than I know of. The decline of local and regional news media especially newspapers has diminished our society and cannot be replicated by social media and the internet. We are poorer for it.
William Newbill (Dallas, TX)
I lament that even my liberal progressive friends on the left proudly cancel their newspaper subscriptions over some imagined slight apparently unaware or simply not caring that this empowers the opponents of truth and fact-based reporting. Real journalism isn’t free, it costs money and it should command respect. Journalism is worth the investment. Local small town and regional politicians have never been more free to engage in graft, corruption, and outright theft as they are right now. We know that many Republicans want to destroy journalism, to snuff it out entirely so that the facts and truth never get in their way ever again. But my friends on the left don’t seem to care enough to put aside their fragile egos to preserve this indispensable tool of democracy either. We’re doomed. Or not.
Bob (Hudson Valley)
Supporting local newspapers is critical for the survival of democracy. Too many such papers have disappeared making if difficult for local citizens to know what their local governments are doing. Even for those papers that have survived doing local investigative journalism is nearly impossible. The decline of local newspapers began with Craig's list which almost instantly caused them to loose a major source of revenue, classified ads. Then Facebook and Google made things far worse as their targeted ads took away additional ad revenue. Subscribing to local newspapers, whether for the digital version only or both digital or print versions, is one way to try to undo the damage that that the internet has done to local newspapers.
Mark (Atlanta)
In 1997, a series of immense snow storms buffeted the Great Plains. When spring finally came, the snow from those storms began melting. The melt runoff reached the Red River, which flows through Grand Forks, N.D. The flood hit the city so hard, so suddenly, that it effectively brought Grand Forks to its knees. Included in that battering: the Grand Forks Herald. Not only was it flooded; the newspaper caught fire, too. The staff fled for higher ground and was soon working out of an empty elementary school, 30 miles away. I was a reporter for a newspaper in the same chain to which the Herald belonged. When my editor put out the word that exhausted Herald staffers needed some backup, I volunteered. I flew from Philadelphia to Grand Forks, where I spent the next two weeks living in a Winnebago with a displaced Herald photographer. It was relentless work. If I ever doubted the value of local news, those doubts vanished one afternoon. I was in a WalMart, interviewing customers, when a voice over the loudspeaker caught everyone's attention. "The Grand Forks Herald is being delivered in the parking lot." Everyone stopped what he or she was doing to get the newspaper, to learn the latest. The Herald won a Pulitzer for that. More important, it won the hearts of Grand Forks.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
There is a world of difference between a real newspaper and online media, even if both are run by the same outfit. A paper is limited by the actual cost of physical production and distribution. Thus, the editorial process becomes extremely important, as decisions have to be made as to what is worthy of the very limited column inches available. Online, production and distribution costs are pretty much the same for one and one hundred "pages", and the ability to continually change a story is also essentially almost free. In addition, the ability to change a story has become a "necessity" in an age where people's attention span and willingness to delve deeply into an issue is pretty much length and depth of a bumpersticker. This is true across the board. The Times did not have five Tara Reade stories running simultaneously in the print edition as it did on the online Home Page. If you want better perspective, get the hard copy of a paper. Someone who often actually knows what they are doing, an experienced editor, will have had to make the hard choices necessary in its production. Good local papers are even more important. Local issues may not be as "sexy", but they will cover what affects your daily life and need the support of the community to stay in business. I have taken to reading a number of "papers" online from around the country for perspective nationals do not provide. If available, I will read multiple "papers" from the same community to get even more perspective.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
The story's lede is wrong, when it states, "News organizations make mistakes. But shunning them will only hasten the death of journalism itself." In the decade of the mid-Sixties through the mid-Seventies, those of us who believed the corporate media was somewhere between useless and counterproductive, created our own alternative newspapers. In places both large and small, papers sprang up that both reflected and helped to create a very viable, quality alternative narrative to that presented by the regular papers and TV. From the "Berkeley Tribe" to Atlanta's "Great Speckled Bird" to Boston's "Gay Community News" to Houston's "Space City" to Washington's "Quicksilver Times" to "Madness Network News" to the "Oracle" and many others, a generation took control over the information network it lived in. Pre-Silicon Valley San Jose had four different papers, and even Barstow had one. Notably, while most were self-professedly advocates of one sort or another, most were also quite dedicated to facts rather than rumors. One of my worries about the current "oppositional" younger generation is that they have developed no non-corporate way of their own to communicate, let alone project and promote their aspirations. Whining on Facebook or even commenting to the Times is not reliable when push comes to shove. Or even before.
curmudgeon74 (Bethesda MD)
I was fortunate to grow up in Nashville during the Siegenthaler years, and witness the moderating effect of an enlightened newspaper on passions that might have moved toward the darker angels of human nature. We cannot readily disentangle the influence of a newspaper from its surrounding culture, but it is especially clear in these times of turmoil that any community suffers profoundly when citizens' ability to monitor their government is constrained, whether by technological shifts and resulting economic change or the resource-stripping efforts of private equity. Several alternative methods of sustaining independent local news entities are being considered, and may find greater visibility in a new Congress. I urge fellow readers to explore this issue, and bear in mind that the Founders established low rates for the postal exchange of newspapers between the colonies to help knit the young republic together. The challenges have shifted but the central problem of funding independent news-gatherers remains. Keeping the republic, as Franklin urged us to do, will ultimately require both the preservation of these resources, however organized and financed, and acting on the knowledge they provide.
Twg (NV)
When Congress essentially abandoned the Fairness Doctrine they helped set the stage for the decline of local newspapers and journalists – blowing apart regulations that limited how much media a company could own in a specific geographic region. With the rise of an insufficiently regulated internet environment (net neutrality just doesn't do enough to support the tenet of a diverse and free press) and unregulated social media companies that are allowed to sell a person's private data for millions in advertising dollars (mostly without our knowledge and against our will), the death knell for quality journalism accelerated. And I will never forget the moment in the early 2000s when the logos for companies like Facebook and Twitter began being displayed on the screen during the evening news broadcasts on television: a truly inappropriate marriage of corporate interest to what is supposed to be objective news coverage. (I thought if they're promoting Facebook's logo on the news, why not CocaCola?) I'm old enough to remember our household getting a morning and evening paper – even as journalists like Walter Cronkite and others reported world events on television. Americans were better informed then I believe. With smart phones & platforms like Facebook designed to be addictive,and with the demise of so many local news rooms, it's getting harder to stay well informed about community issues. When accountability is weakened, corruption inevitably rises. So too does intolerance.
Andrew (Philadelphia)
Yes, long live newspapers, whether in paper (ideally) or digital (for those on budget, like me) form. But I fear that given demographic changes and the economics of the business, newspaper readership will continue to diminish in coming years. And since a number of people (shockingly) rely on social media platforms more and more for their so-called news, and not, sadly, top-notch papers such as the NY Times and their DC competitor for their news...
JohnBellyful (Ontario)
Held in low esteem, hollowed out by layoffs and buyouts, deserted by advertisers and readers, attacked by politicians and magnates, journalism is in a precarious state. Newspapers are dying off or shriveling. That is not a good thing, though many would welcome their demise. Society would be weaker for it. To attract new readers and retain those they have mainstream newspapers might consider publishing one edition each day with two front pages (you'd have to turn the paper over to start with the cover you prefer). One would be informed by a liberal perspective, the other a conservative one. The choice and presentation of stories inside would reflect the leanings of the editors and their staff – separate entities within the organization who would remain cordially aloof so as to maintain corporate peace and departmental independence. Obviously, the two sides' stories would end up meeting in the middle, and this where, it's hoped, readers by then will have done the same, arriving at a better understanding of what constitutes the truth, having worked their way through both sections, or points of view. It's a proposal made somewhat tongue in cheek – a su-jest-ion, you might say -- but not worth dismissing out of hand. Perhaps in laughing it off or tossing it aside, a germ of an idea will present itself that's worth pursuing. Something needs to be done to bridge the ever-widening divide among people in the States. Newspapers at the end of their rope no longer have the means.
John from the Wind Turbine City (Schenectady NY)
Newspapers are businesses, just like any other. When print was king, ad-rich newspapers were cash boxes which printed money for mostly right-wing owners. It was not unusual for newspapers to have profit margins of more than 20 percent, back in the era when General Motors would report a banner year with five percent profit. Unlike many industries, print owners were very reluctant to make major investments like the best computer systems or new presses unless the existing equipment became so unreliable or outdated it could not product a reliable daily product. Yet the readers remained loyal as long as subscription prices were kept low by fat ad revenues. The arrival of Craigslist destroyed classified ads and car dealers also migrated to the Internet. The print business model became outdated. Yet the newspapers were located in downtown areas with soaring real estate prices. Takeover artists have bought newspapers not for their value as media, but for the real estate value.
bull (tucson)
@John from the Wind Turbine City Thats life in the big city. Now we can enjoy some of the best down sized writers on the internet and not get the bs the NYT peddles, but only for the left.
Peter (Valle de Angeles)
Thanks so much for speaking up for journalist and journalism. "Information is power." And the lack thereof? Not a democracy. Jill Cowan and the Times' California Today's example of involving University of California, Berkeley students, might help - this morning's piece by Michaela Vacheva about grey whales, is a wonderful example. Service-learning graduate, undergraduate or high school students would help to ensure coverage, especially local, while also allowing more time for research or in-depth reporting by full or part-time journalists. Not to mention providing student journalists with excellent experience.
jkinnc (Durham, NC)
Don't disagree that newspapers were-- at one time -- of the utmost importance. But that was then, This is now. I just got an email telling me that my local newspaper subscription will now cost $1200 (Raleigh News & Observer). That's almost $4 each day! At this point, I think I will have to give up what's now a ghost. It was not that long ago that a subscription cost $4 per week. And what am I getting? A lot thinner paper. There's no longer a science session, no longer a health & medicine section, no longer an education section, a travel section, etc. etc. I understand that Fbook and Google took over newspapers' advertising revenue, but basically the newspapers and other news sources let them get away with it. They were so eager to get their noses under the Fbook/Google tents that let them use their news content essentially for free, while charging us the subscribers big bucks. The newspapers have only themselves to blame.
Litzz11 (Nashville, TN)
As a 30+ years resident of Nashville, I can't disagree with Ms. Renkl more. The Tennessean hastened its own death when it decided the "newsroom of the future" would revolve around "citizen journalists," shorthand for firing the actual reporters and letting public opinion, via social media, do the heavy lifting. The Tennessean has fired its journalists and funneled that money into marketing and sales. It does not deserve to live. It should die and let one of the many other upstarts replace it. Journalism won't die, it will just be replaced by something better.
Employees at every Gannett newspaper in the nation have been ordered to take forced, unpaid furloughs to counter the ad sales decline related to Covid 19. That means that the few employees left are doing even more work while their furloughed colleagues sit at home. How much you want to bet that somewhere in this Tennessean mess was a job function going undone due to the absence of a furloughed worker? The sales manager was probably a convenient scapegoat as this once might civic institution, like everything else ruined by Gannett and GateHouse, accelerates its own death spiral. A loss for all.
NorthXNW (West Coast)
I understand the Times has a voice, but cancelling the voices of others was not welcome, and yes I am referring to the Tom Cotton incident. It was not what Norman Rockwell was thinking of when he painted his 1943 masterpiece "Freedom of speech" and I would have thought it was a given in these times. Let me speak, let him speak, let her speak, let them speak, Let us speak should be right up there with I can't breath. In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. MLK
NGB (North Jersey)
@NorthXNW I was THIS close to cancelling my Times subscription because of that incident, but I didn't, because it would have felt like turning my back on a life-long close friendship because of a slight (albeit it kind of a big one). Next time I might not feel so nostalgic. Until that incident, I had no idea who Tom Cotton was (my bad on that part, I guess). But because of that piece, I now know all too well who he is and how he (and others like him) thinks. And, as utterly, horrifically distasteful and painful as it was to hear that "point of view," it was really important that I know (keep your friends close, etc.) I don't read the Times just to confirm my own liberal bent. I can do that anywhere; bias confirmation is what the internet does best. I DO want to read about every hideous, evil, ugly word and idea that spews from the mind of a person like that, because an awareness of both the best and the worst of what people (especially those with any kind of "power") think and are willing to put into action can only enrich my world-view and make me more determined to act as a counterbalance in my daily life, even if the ugliness makes me lose sleep at night. When I feel like hearing only what I want to hear, I can go to CNN or something. Strong, unbiased, fearless journalism is SO important. I don't want it to be infected by cancel-culture and concerns that readers will be made "uncomfortable" but what is just simple reality. So my subscription stands, for now.
Andrew (Ithaca, NY)
Our local daily is a mere shadow of its never-that-wonderful self, the more so since becoming part of the Gatehouse chain. I still subscribe, but not for much longer as its national/world coverage is minimal and its local coverage is worse. Our local print weekly and a non-profit website do a much better job covering local politics and other events and they get there a lot faster too. Case in point: we had a heavily contested primary (7 candidates) for a state assembly seat due to the current occupant's imminent retirement. Not a word in the local daily about who is running or what their positions on issues might be. This isn't worth supporting financially any more since Gatehouse only wants to extract whatever money it can, not actually cover any news except sports. There have been lots of pages about not very much news for the last several months on that front.
Semi-retired (Midwest)
So far so good. My local newspaper has done a good job of printing rather unbiased news articles. The local TV channels are another story. Sinclair-owned channel seems to be moving to a near Faux world.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
I read "papers" from SLC, NOLA, and ABQ among others. This is from a letter to the latter" The excellently written article, "Letter writer’s diatribe a sign of polarized times", is itself a part of the problem. The incentive to send such a "letter" is magnified hugely by the perp's knowledge that doing so will guarantee him or her the power to "make the papers" and be famous. Fifteen minutes of fame has become very easy in the age of the internet. Send a disgusting, threatening letter, and suddenly you get to feel powerful, as you have "controlled" not just the recipient, but the local media and the many who will read about. And, if it is not merely your personal need for attention but that of an agenda-based group, all you have to do is broaden the object of your attack to a group, and you are likely to get national online coverage. Up the ante to shooting up a mall or house of worship, and the entire world will hear and follow your "message." Life has become more and more evaluated by "ratings" than by quality. This applies to everything from LIKES of an online comment to tweets from politicians at the highest level. It is necessary that we do not pretend bad stuff does not occur, that Patsy has not been violated. This is especially true inasmuch as the abuse of women has long been an under-reported story. However, at the same time we need to do our best to ensure we are not aggravating problems by handing a megaphone to those who are primarily looking for publicity.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
@Steve Fankuchen It seems right to add here the last paragraph of my letter to the Albuquerque Journal, which would not fit in my previous comment "Please note that I am definitely not criticizing the author, Joline Gutierrez Krueger, or the Albuquerque Journal for running this story. I am merely trying to provide a perspective to consider. Both do an excellent job, which is why I read the paper from so far away, as I try to understand the various parts of my country."
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
There is a huge difference between an actual newspaper and online media, even if both are run by the same outfit. A paper is limited by the actual cost of production and distribution. Thus, the editorial process becomes extremely important, as decisions have to be made as to what is worthy of the very limited space available. Online production and distribution costs are pretty much the same for one or a hundred "pages", and the ability to continually change a story is also essentially free. In addition, the ability to change a story has become a "necessity" in an age where people's attention span and willingness to delve deeply into an issue is pretty much that of a bumpersticker. This is true across the board. The Times did not have five Tara Reade stories running simultaneously in the print edition as it did on the online Home Page. If you want better perspective, get the hard copy of a paper. Someone who often actually knows what they are doing, an experienced editor, will have had to make the hard choices necessary in its production. Good local papers are even more important. Local issues may not be as "sexy", but they will cover what affects your daily life and need the support of the community to stay in business. I have taken to reading a number of "papers" online from around the country for perspective nationals mostly do not provide. (I'll post an example after this.) If available, I will read multiple "papers" from the same community to get even more perspective.
I subscribe to my local newspaper because it is the best place for local news. I have called them quite a bit in the last year to complain that the paper had not been delivered. Imagine my surprise when I looked out the window one Monday morning to see a light gust of wind blowing my newspaper down the street. Apparently, Mondays and Tuesdays require a rock to hold it in place. I would prefer more news resulting in a heavier paper.
Ls (Fairfield County)
I suppose it's understandable that journalists consistently stand up prominently for the importance of journalism. And theoretically, journalism is an essential pillar of democracy, but that's too abstract an idea for this -- or really any -- time. Journalism is only as worthy as its practitioners. There have been journalists present for each of the decisions that has promulgated nearly all white newsrooms or perpetuated culturally-insensitive language and descriptions. Journalists have been witness to the prolonged, persistent race violence and race exclusion that have plagued this democracy for all its existence. To be sure there has been reporting on these subjects, but there has not been the consistency or thoroughness to reflect the gravity of a disease that spoils the very idea of democracy. Much like the protests aimed at the police, there is an appetite to "defund" the institutions, because the institutions hold stubbornly to their blind spots and focus inordinately on self-congratulation. To receive the deference of the fourth estate, perform at the level of ideals implied.
JustaHuman (AZ)
If journalism were any other product the thesis here wouldn't hold up. If I buy a lunch combo at a restaurant and they begin substituting pre-packaged sandwiches made in another state, and a bag of chips instead of fries, and a banana instead of my salad, it's unappetizing and not worth the money I pay. Should I think- if I stop ordering here other people will starve and the restaurant industry will be hollowed-out? If you support mediocrity, that is what you will get. And that is what is happening in many industries, including healthcare (not to insult the men and women who self-sparingly do their level best to care for patients within the framework provided by their industry overlords). Journalism is too valuable to be cheapened as it has in many places. I live in AZ and just got a $3 for a three month trial subscription to the AZ Republic, a once-great, but now hollowed out shell of a Gannett newspaper. That is what it is worth to me. Shallow, sloppy coverage is what Gannett supports, but it's not what we need anymore than industrialized nutrition. When the public is educated well enough to understand the importance of professional journalism, great papers will thrive again (in digital form). But in the US, I don't see that on the horizon.
Kathleen (Michigan)
Perhaps part of the plan for whoever ran that ad was to weaken the newspaper further. The takeover and/or weakening of all truthful media has been a goal of the right wing for a long time. It's happened in my state. Now, it's hard to find out anything of local news from the website that replaced it. How do you find out about the people running for your city council? How they vote, etc. If there's an impact from a weather emergency (roads closed) it's even hard to find that, despite the internet and even NextDoor. What about important community issues? Politicians like not having oversight. Especially the corrupt ones. Under the current system, it's a lot of sports, a few police reports of clickbait crimes, etc. No more local radio stations (weather reports and all of the above) either.
mr bill (new haven)
I recently canceled the Washington Post as I find I can get plenty of news from many other reliable sources for free. I assume these other journals pay the bills through advertising and subscriptions. I wasn't shocked, but disgusted, that they sent an offer for $29 per year, down from the $120 fee I had been sending for years. I also am aware that the price per copy has risen far faster than most guideposts like the consumer price index.
AstridOnThePrairie (Nebraska)
Those who haven't should purchase the columnist's book (I did). Quite a lovely book. Does make me also miss Verlyn, though. Why can't we have both columnists?
AreBee (Mantua, NJ)
Well put and well said, Ms. Renkle. I subscribe to the online edition of the NYT as delivery daily is not possible in my southern NJ area. Therefore, we've just renewed our Philadelphia Inquirer daily & weekend 26 week subscription at a rate increase of over 20%. Is it worth that? Without question as that increase helps its staff do the heavy lifting while I manage to spend an hour or so turning pages, learning more and drinking a hot cup of java. Nothing better than a free press than that in which we can invest. Brava and thank you.
Mary Ann BACLAWSKI (Salem, OR)
I agree with everything Margaret Renkle wrote except that it’s worth subscribing to a Gannett owned newspaper. I stopped subscribing to our local paper soon after it turned into a subscription to USA Today with only a couple of local articles each day. As soon as an alternate on-line local newspaper appeared, I subscribed. That paper is much more expensive and of course has its faults. But it covers the local and state politics that I expect a newspaper to cover and that Gannett does abysmally. Because I can read the Gannett paper at doctors’ offices I know that it continues to be worthless.
Liz (Portland)
My local newspaper, The Oregonian, is also a pale shadow of its former self. Many of my colleagues in pubic education no longer subscribe because of the paper's consistently hostile editorial stance toward public employees. But I continue to subscribe, not only on principle (as a granddaughter, daughter and sister of career newspaper journalists the idea of NOT subscribing to my local paper is nearly unthinkable) but because, even in its anemic state, the paper is the best, most reliable source of information on local politics, crime, education, etc. The idea that we don't have to pay for value is one of the most damaging and insidious of the internet age. I also subscribe to the NY TImes because I believe in paying for credible news. Good news publishing is expensive - people blogging at home in their pajamas will never be able to do it well. people - you get what you pay for.
Matthew Hughes (Wherever I'm housesitting)
Long ago, I was a bush-league journalist in Canada, editing community weeklies. May I make a suggestion? The Constitution explicitly sees a free press as a necessary public service, not an economic activity. Now the economics of a 21st century society have diminished the ability of the print media to perform that service. Obviously, another model needs to be developed. My suggestion: government offers a 150 percent tax credit for donations made to a non-profit foundation established to subsidize print media, the amount of the annual subsidy to be determined by the per capita reach of each organ's readership. The foundation would be directed by a board composed of Pulitzer Prize and Peabody Award winners, elected by a mail-in vote that canvassed publishers and managing editors of newspapers that have been in existence for a certain period of time, perhaps ten years. The subsidy would not be available to any newspaper or news magazine that is not independently owned. No chains and no ownership by persons or companies that own non-print media. The result: newspapers would be free of the influence of advertisers and ideologically driven owners. And the public interest would be served.
@Matthew Hughes , A few foundations and organizations in the U.S. are already taking steps to try out a non-profit model for local newspapers. With certain exceptions for newspapers like the NYT, WSJ, and WaPo, entities that are both national and family controlled, it may be that a profit business model no longer works for newspapers. This of course is a function of the market trends (i.e., digitalization, consolidation, audience polarization, the various types of electronic media, free news sources, etc.). But, then again, there are a lot of socially valuable things that markets and for profit business models aren't that good at providing.
Federico (SF Bay Area)
@Matthew Hughes Heartily agree. - Former Orange County (CA) Register reporter and Cal Poly SLO Journalism graduate.
JessiePearl (Tennessee)
@Matthew Hughes Wonderful idea! We'll have to first get this 'it's fake news' president and his accomplices out of office and have a sane administration in place...
Simon Thom (London UK)
If people unsubscribe to a quality newspaper because they disagree with an opinion there (like Tom Cotton's op-ed in the NYT) it means that we all are looking for the cocoon of our comfort zone. We do not read a quality newspaper to get confirmation of our political or moral-cultural biases, we read it to broaden our horizon and enrich our perspective and knowledge. And to challenge our biases.
Kathy Lollock (Santa Rosa, CA)
It was 2018, and our small local newspaper The Press Democrat won a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for its superb covering of our northern California 2017 Tubb's Fire. The paper shared photos of the tears of joy streaming from the eyes of hard-working and dedicated journalists. I was never so proud of the power of reporting and my home-town people. And now we find ourselves in the Trumpian Era with its lies, spins, deceits, and egregious actions, constant and relentless for an eternally long four years. I ask, "What would the public do, how ignorant would we have remained, if not for our journalists?" The New York Times, the Press, the SF Chronicle, I read them daily. Without them, I would be of the same ilk as those who depend upon the hyperbole, distractions, misguided, indeed untruthful "reporting" of Fox and Friends. No, that can not be. I find myself indebted to so many of our reputable news papers. We need them. We have no other choice but to honor our freedoms: speech, assembly, and the PRESS. Thank you, Margaret, for sharing yourself with all of us.
BFG (Boston, MA)
@Kathy Lollock And thank you also for such a powerful comment and tribute to local journalism.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
@BFG Ditto that applause from me as well. Well done Kathy.
Paulf (LA)
@Kathy Lollock As someone who was in Santa Rosa for seven years, read the Press Democrat regularly, and now am in the Los Angeles area, reading the LA Times (and subscribe to the NY Times), I hope you and your newspaper are well! I will NEVER let someone go unchallenged again who throws out the, "I'm cancelling my subscription," invective.
Lost In A Red State (Somewhere)
Over 30 years ago my job required me to travel throughout Appalachia. One of the first things I would do upon arrival in a small town, usually the county seat, was get the local newspaper - usually a weekly - and read every word, even the classifieds. No better way to learn about a community and it’s issues. Thank you for a wonderful column.
Eric (St Louis)
I do the exact same thing. I also still subscribe to my home town weekly, mailed to my house, The Minden Courier. If we don’t pay for news, we lose real journalism and will be left with only propaganda.
WHBallard (Spring Hill TN)
I only just recently retired to Nashville and took up an online subscription to the Tennessean. Compared to the newspapers of my paperboy youth and subsequent adult life, I do find it a bit thin. However, I also see balanced coverage and of course local news. I appreciate it and will continue to subscribe. And thanks for this history of the paper. That raised my respect for it a bit.
Jerry Schulz (Milwaukee)
Our Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is also owned by Gannett and faces similar challenges. And I've had a subscription to the print edition for most of the last 50 years, and I won't be cancelling it soon. But what bugs me is that these papers will often issue appeals like Margaret has issued here on their behalf, that we somehow need to keep them going because we are good guys, as though they are some sort of charity. Look at the Times. They don't need to do that. They seem to be thriving. And this is because they have adapted to the changing times and have a product people value and are willing to invest in. So I also pay to get the electronic version of the Times, even though I'm 1,000 miles from New York. You might say, "But the Times enjoys economies of scale." And that's what bugs me about Gannett; they should ALSO enjoy the same economies and spread them across all their local papers, but I don't see this. For example, my JSONLINE web site has been kind of junky, although within the last few days it has seemed to receive an upgrade. Newspapers and other media are in a fast-changing world. They enjoy a special status in bringing us the truth, especially in a world in which we have automated the spreading of lies, and even our President can't resist joining in this evil. But appealing to us to support them as though they are a charity isn't enough. They must get tough and offer people a creative and engaging product that we are willing to dig into our pockets and pay for.
David (Ridgewood, NJ)
Having been a great reader and digester of news over the years I have grown more and more disillusioned with journalism’s retreat into political echo chambers. It feels virtually impossible these days to find independent thinking in reporting. Yes any single article can offer dry independent, uninterpretive reporting but, if taken over time, they all seemingly and increasingly are pursuIng a narrowed political or ideological agenda
AKS (Illinois)
@David I agree. And that includes the NYT. I am actively looking for a replacement. I now subscribe to the WaPo in addition to the NYT, but so far it's a wash.
Kenny Fry (Atlanta, GA)
@AKS For me, NY Times columnist Ross Douthat said it best in his op-ed dated June 12: “But bound up with these goals is a growing newsroom assumption that greater diversity should actually lead to a more singular perspective on the news, a journalism of ‘truth’ rather than ‘objectivity,’ in which issues that involve black — or gay or female or transgender or immigrant — interests are covered less as complex debates and more as stories of good versus evil.” I, too, have lamented the objectivity of reporting in the Times, and — albeit to a much lesser extent — I am beginning to see it creeping in to The Washington Post. Overall, I see it has an erosion of a commitment to excellence, which used to be a pillar of journalism.
Caryn (Massachusetts)
@David and AKS and Kenny: you do realize we are replying to an OP - ED, a piece that is specifically all about one’s opinion, same with the opinion piece Kenny quoted. As a long time subscriber to the NYT and the local paper in the region where I reside, currently the Boston GLOBE, I have read the news, opinions, book reviews, etc. for decades and am grateful for their words. We need them. Thank you for pointing that out, Margaret, and for expressing your opinion.
For many years I subscribed to my local paper, and justified the cost/benefit as my contribution to the community. When my recent invoice arrived for daily delivery at $400 per year, I dropped the paper. The other factor was the coverage. For many months it has been a steady drumbeat of outrage. The reporters find and amplify the most extreme voices. The lack of objectivity, by journalists and their editors, is hastening the end of journalism as much as anything else.
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
@KLM While it's gossipy and full of fools and coyote scares and lost pets (wonder how those are related), the Nextdoor website fulfills some of the community news need. We also have a Current weekly that's free, and plastered with local business ads.
jki (Washington St.)
I started reading the paper every morning, I’m not kidding, as a child. My parents read it at the breakfast table and I was curious so I had to check it out. Many, many years later, after taking the local newspaper here for almost 40 years I cancelled the print edition this year. I honestly wasn’t sure if I could have my breakfast without a newspaper in front of me. The price went up to $400 and the Sunday paper was 32 pages with in-paper ad so I reluctantly canceled. I am still subscribing digitally so we’ll see how it goes. I have great admiration for journalists. It’s not their fault the papers are, in many cases, terrible. I’ve heard that hedge funds and investment companies bought newspapers and used their profits for other things. (Like hospitals.) Whatever the reason I still miss my daily newspaper but I don’t see how they can stay in business the way they are now. Sadly.
Liz (Portland)
@Chip It will never substitute for consistent, investigatory journalism. Believe me, you will regret abandnoing real journalism in your community.
Raven (Earth)
There is NOTHING like the tactile sensation of holding and reading the news in an eminent broadsheet. I've been reading the NY Times since I was old enough to read. My father used to read it first, mark the things I should read (in red fountain pen ink) , and then give it to me. In high school there was a stack of NY Times there every morning (ten cents a copy!) as we came in. I'd ALWAYS grab a copy and peruse it through the course of the day. I'll NEVER, as long as they exist, stop reading the newspaper, particularly, and while this may come across as overly obsequious, my beloved NY Times. Long may it publish! Particularly, in print.
Mark (Washington DC)
@Raven I remember taking a political science/current events course in my Senior year in high school. Read the Washington Post and the Washington Star every Sunday and be prepared to debate the issues of the liberal and conservative papers during the week. Best learning experience that I ever had and that includes a Masters degree.
Corrie (Alabama)
@Raven what a sweet memory. What a great father you had! Thank you for sharing.
Lloyd MacMillan (Temiscaming, Quebec)
@Raven You forgot to mention the olfactory connection to the process. I read and subscribe on-line to a few, but nothing will ever compare to the feel in my hands, the rustle of turning pages, and the wonderful smell of fresh printers ink and the mild acridity of processed wood pulp.
Julia A (CA)
I canceled my New York Times subscription after Donald Trump was elected president. In my opinion, the NYT helped get him elected by making "But Her Emails" front page news for months all the while ignoring Trump's bankruptcies, corruption, sexual assaults, financial dealings with the Russian mob etc. They refuse to say that trump lies, instead he "misleads" and "alleges". The NYts expresses little remorse for their unbalanced coverage of trump and their embarrassing Clinton bias. Their attempt to be fair and balanced has normalized trump's authoritarian behavior. Because of the NYTs lack of journalistic integrity, it's not just newspapers whose survivor is at risk, but democracy's as well.
Joseph (Wellfleet)
I cancelled the Washington Post after the 2000 election debacle and had a subscription to the Wall Street Journal for all of 3 minutes in utter disgust. I also consider cancelling the NYTimes practically daily. There is no news outlet for me. As a very progressive Democratic Socialist I find the NYTimes skews right and utterly ignores both viewpoints further left than Neoliberal (which isn't left at all) and energy. That would be the greatest crime of the NYTimes, utterly ignoring and denying energy from people in need. We're all ginned up now about police brutality. It didn't start yesterday, as a companion NYTimes piece illustrates, but the NYtimes, in their zeal to bring both sides, will publish Newt, Cotton and other downright horrible peoples opinions as some kind of pillar of racist, militaristic salt and no one ever hears from anyone on the extreme left, such as Chomsky or Nader because for all practical purposes the NYtimes has CANCELLED them. Before everyone jumps in to trash Nader try to remember that election was stolen and would have been stolen no matter what just like Hillary's election was stolen. We're being robbed and the NYTimes enables the robbers. So yeah, I'll cancel my subscription if I want to.
Liz (Portland)
@Joseph I think you are reflecting part of the problem - you an da number of other posters here (funny how many of them decry the NYTimes for its "far left" stance), reject newspaper for their editorial stance. It is depressing on how few here seem to be looking at the quality of news coverage as the deciding factor.
Dancer's Mom (NYC)
I live in a part of the country that is rarely, if ever, mentioned in the local newspaper. Journalists covering truly local news, including corrupt governance, are an endangered (and possibly already extinct) species. I do read much of my local paper, even though it is often directed at the wealthy, those living in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I live in Queens. My local paper is this paper, The NY Times.
Wandertage (Wading River)
"But canceling your newspaper subscription because of [...] one flagrantly dangerous op-ed — will not cure journalism of what ails it." Perhaps the author is referring to the recent Op-Ed by Sen. Tom Cotton that appeared in the NYT, an occurrence which reflected gross editorial negligence on the part of the NYT. I came within a gnat's eyelash of canceling my subscription right there. You can thank Will Shortz for the fact that held off on doing so. Subscriptions are the only effective way to signal anything to the NYT. Campaigns to cancel subscriptions en masse in response to blatant failures of journalism are a good thing.
Viv (.)
There is a huge difference between a mistake and a deliberate error. When there is a clear pattern of mistakes, and the mistakes veer only in one direction of the narrative, a newspaper is no longer a *news* paper. It's simply a circle jerk of like-minded people making each other feel better. That is why I no longer subscribe to this paper. Articles promoting bigotry (like Parker-Pope's latest missive) and the thoroughly misleading "exclusive" of Russian bounties show me that I have made the right decision. You don't need my money or my support.
ggallo (Middletown, NY)
Thanks for this. Gonna look up The Tennessean now. Hey Fellow NYT Readers, name some great, really good or good newspapers where you live or you know about. Houston Chronicle?
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
@ggallo Albuquerque Journal
ggallo (Middletown, NY)
@Steve Fankuchen Thank you.
Jack Dancer (middle america)
Why should conservatives worry about the death of newspapers, nearly all of which in bed with the Democrat Party?
Liz (Portland)
@Jack Dancer Are they? Or do they just practice good journalism, and are rooted in reality and facts? Granted, that certainly means that they are not in bed with the Republican Party. As Stephen Colbert said " Reality has a well known liberal bias"
I have read the NY Times all my life. The Times has sunk to a new low, unfortunately. No longer does it focus on international news. The Times editorial page is now clearly affecting the front page. The Times does not cover local NY crime, which is rising and a threat. It does, however, push for "Defund the Police." And its progressive coverage is clearly biased. Too bad!
Frank (Midwest)
Yes, but how about canceling the paper because Outhouse Media has fired all the real reporters and turned it into a pastiche of syndicated articles with no bearing on local news whatever?
susan m (OR)
I have been tempted to cancel my subscription to the NYT many times --- and that is the electronic paper. But the pretty houses in the real estate section have stopped me. All news outlets have biased opinions these days --- evenhanded reporting is hard to find. That the Times will change a headline because its readers find it "too positive" in the direction of the opposing political party speaks volumes about the "balance" of the written word.
Greg (Chicago)
Newspapers deserve their own faith. Biased reporting, political agendas, half-truths, lies, alienation of half the population, group-think, fake stories, lack of understanding, selective facts, pure stupidity, lack of common sense, no curiosity and elitism are putting the news media out of business.
Jonathan (NYC)
I'm cancelling my subscription to save up for reparations to various identity groups.
Tom Kocis (Austin)
I’m actually thinking of canceling my subscription to the New York Times. I’m finding more and more that inconvenient facts are being ignored because they don’t support a liberal point of you. I’m not looking for the opposite of Fox News. I am looking for the facts and fair analysis and commentary. 
Thorn (Mississippi)
Great work on an important topic, you have convinced me to hold onto my print subscription to The Clarion-Ledger, the largest newspaper in Mississippi. This paper too is a ghost of its former form, but I will keep it for the reasons suggested in your essay.
Bradford McCormick (New York)
I am currently unemployed and would call myself retired if I had a decent pension. Therefore, while I am not yet impoverished, I have to watch my expenditures, and so my sometime charitable contributions are on hold. But I still think my subsription to The New York Times is one thing I would not readily give up. I am also aware that does not help any smaller newspapers.
CJ (Canada)
I grew up delivering the local newspaper; the editor worked from his own press in the garage and we'd pick up the bundles from his house. That paper was bought by a a private equity media conglomerate and gutted by layoffs. Over a series of five different corporate owners, the newspaper turned into nothing but a bundle of ad flyers interspersed with anodyne corporate news. Unsurprisingly, readership declined. The paper closed recently.
The Pessimistic Shrink (Henderson, NV)
Nowadays, we expect the president to lie about and misrepresent everything, and we expect the press to be completely truthful and accurate one-hundred percent of the time. That puts us right in the middle -- half right.
polymath (British Columbia)
"a man called the city desk of The Tennessean" That's a very strange thing to call a man.
Cody McCall (tacoma)
Just remember: no Fourth Estate, no democracy.
rich (Montville NJ)
I just asked my 28-year old daughter, who teaches in Japan, to take advantage of the Times' dollar-a-week offer for one year electronic delivery for new subscribers. She will do so, and I'll gladly pay for it. There is a very thin line between freedom and fascism. The president's attacks on "fake news" and labeling journalists the "enemy of the people", as well as increasing violence towards journalists worldwide, put that beyond doubt. The president loves the uneducated. Wonder why?
CJ (Jonesborough, TN)
This reader hopes for a future where I can easily discern the difference between professional credible journalism and everything else. It seems that paper editors, and the model they used to oversee, are far outdated. Regulation? Credentialing/licensing? Something. NYT, WaPo, AP, and Reuters seem to be leading the way.
JPE (Maine)
At a time when journalism schools are following the lead of reporters at prestigious publications and arguing for advocacy rather than objectivity, perhaps a little introspection on the part of today’s reporters is called for? Probably as is the case for most NYT subscribers, I read several daily papers. More and more I look in vain for an impartial examination of an issue rather than an almost hysterical advocacy of a point of view. I expect to cancel my hometown daily’s subscription next month; perhaps the NYT and the Post will be next.
Liz (Portland)
@JPE I don't know what you and others are talking about in regard t o the NY Times -certainly not the news stories - of which not one has given a specific example to support your view. Most of you seem to have lost the ability to distinguish between the editorial page and news stories. I am starting to think the problem is readers who just want to read "news" that reflects their ideological bent - particularly conservative ones. As a liberal, I see views much more conservative than me in the NY TImes ALL THE TIME.
Adk Al (NJ)
When news outlets like the New York Times mirror the ideological segregation of antisocial media in their choice of articles, it renders them merely as echo chambers, as another respondent observed. Reston, Baker and their contemporaries didn’t need their columns to have to pass litmus tests for liberal purity like today’s writers. Except for the fact that my children read the Times, I would have cancelled my subscription long ago.
Liz (Portland)
@Adk Al So other than the kerfuffle over Tom Cotton's op ed piece, what examples do you have of columns having to pass a :liberal purity test" in the NY Times. Maybe you should actually start reading the NY times again instead of letting Fox News tell you what is in it.
Jonathan Katz (St. Louis)
Are newspapers important because a free press is important, or because her favorite newspaper supports her pet causes?
Greg (Las Vegas)
I tried to cancel my Times subscription, so they lowered the price. It isn't the mistakes they publish that is so off-putting, but it is the left lean that deepens every day. I don't come to the paper for objective information. I don't see how anybody can anymore. The OP Ed board is ridiculously biased.
Liz (Portland)
@Greg Uh - opinion pages are supposed to be opinion. And the "op-ed" pages are writers who are NOT regular contributors to the paper. So this is the problem I am seeing - the ignorance of readers. Most of the anti- journalism comments I am seeing here seem to be unable to distinguish between an editorial and a news story.
Si Campbell (Boston)
Newspapers are helping to kill themselves by censoring facts and perspectives that don't fit their ideology. The nytimes omits facts and perspectives, and censors comments(facts that reflect unfavorably on favored/protected groups, for example) that don't support its "woke"/progressive ideology. Why should I continue to pay for a "news" source that I know is omitting facts and opinions that don't support its ideology ?
Dan (New York, NY)
After the woke uprising in your op-ed department over the Tom Cotton editorial, I'm questioning whether I should keep supporting the NY Times. The only reason I haven't canceled is because of the hard work of your investigative reporters and news desk. The Op-Ed section has become a total joke (and I say this as someone who loathes Trumpism with every cell of my being). We'll see what happens.
The Speculator (Pennsylvania)
Unfortunately the NY Times is no longer much of a journalistic enterprise. Instead it, like Fox News, plays tunes for its audience to dance to. Those of us in the center of the political spectrum are left with The Economist for true journalism. I am thinking about dropping my subscription. That said, I doubt this comment will make it by the NYT censors.
Which the "Old Gray Lady" would join the ash pile, she ain't what she use to be - unbiased, objective, moderate!
john lee (midwest)
Great timing! I just canceled NYT yesterday. Ever since the current editor has taken over, this news outlet has become too narrowly focused on race. Getting tiresome.
doug (tomkins cove, ny)
@john lee OK John lee, so where exactly do you plan on getting this unicorn of news dissemination that is not focused on race? It is the second most predominate issue today other than Covid. I’m looking at the on line version, there are articles on the Supreme Court, including a trump win. Covid reporting including on a Houston hospital. The Russian Bounty story. An analysis on working from home and how it’s failed in the past, swimming with Sea Lions off Baja. Flood risk analysis across America, a Putin referendum, Broadway to remain closed thru the year. What other stories should supplant just some of the ones I mentioned, what is being suppressed from us loyal readers? Is the NYT perfect? No of course not, that’s why Ms Renkl cited FRDH- first rough draft of history, the operative word being first which also is what Op-Ed columnists reference in their work. Bret Stephens and Ross Douthart are clearly not left leaning, they are part of a roster of editorialists that comprise a plethora of opinions.
Andymac (Philadelphia)
Amen! Thank you, Margaret.
Me (Miami)
Too late, already canceled it last month and it’s the last month for this digital rag too.....too many other places to get what I read here for free.
Scott (Scottsdale, AZ/Park City, UT)
Journalism has become too depressing, too editorialized and too busy chasing after ad revenue. You can get whatever spin you want. This applies to almost all media in the US. I only hold a nyt lowest tier subscription, wsj and a local subscription. I skip 90% of the content on here now. So yes, canceling works.
philip (Queens)
I'd suggest Ms. Renkl visit the newspaper in which her op-ed piece appears. The NY Times is sorely lacking in local reporting since it's Metro Desk took a big hit several years ago. If one wants to read any 'dirt under the fingernails' local journalism they must read The Daily News or The Post. Unfortunately doing so lowers one's intelligent quotient.
alan haigh (carmel, ny)
The depression drew this country together, so did Hitler and WWII as well as the fear of communism and nuclear holocaust. Now we have Covid 19, which should have brought America together in common cause, but it occured during the presidency of the most divisive and mindlessly combative man to have held that office in at least 3 generations, if not our entire history. Our divided nation increasingly turns away from the kind of journalism that questions the status quo and consumers tend not to want to read anything that contradicts their side of the vast and hostile political divide in our nation. It would be wrong to put the blame on Trump, though. He is the symptom of the campaign against true journalism pursued for the last 50 years by the Koch-Murdoch cabal. When facts, science and data become a mere inconvenience disposed of by one side of our politics, it is difficult for genuine journalism to survive. As far as local newspapers- they are going to have to evolve into an existence on the internet. Whether they can generate enough revenue to afford genuine investigative journalism seems doubtful, but the internet can also make investigation more affordable.
Muddlerminnow (Chicago)
I love journalists and all they do. I hate newspaper corporations for their corporate approach--especially the Times, which fails to caption live video newsfeeds, and has spent years and years fighting complaints that it is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Like Harvard and MIT--which both fought against having to caption their online programming--it's all part of a larger profit motive and a failure to really CARE about other people.
FurthBurner (USA)
I have been a subscriber to the NYT for close to a decade now. Only reluctantly though. Too many journalists (not talking about columnists here) have drunk deep from their own kool aid. The award-winning ones are particularly problematic, after they start spinning their own opinions as journalism and reporting. The 2016 election was largely lost on the NPR-listening set owing to the relentless poor coverage of Bernie Sanders' massive rally showings thanks to the shameless coverage by everyone on NPR, but notably the clearly audible mockery of both Mara Liasson and Tamara Keith--their coverage was dictatorial, only matched by the disdain you saw on this paper for a country hankering for real change, both in 2016 and 2020. It's happening again. The country cannot change literally to save itself, and your paper is still constantly peddling tripe, centrist talking points from Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. If your columnists and journalists have drunk so deep from the cup of American exceptionalism, drunk so deep from the cup of whataboutism, drunk so deep from the cup of unanalysed virtues of visionless moderatism, you shouldn't be surprised that people cancel their subscriptions. Most of you are out of touch and don't live in the same country we do.
Simon (On A Plane)
You have done this to yourselves, with a lack of objectivity and a focus on profits. Good riddance.
JohnA (Bar Harbor, Maine)
Thank you for an interesting column. I appreciate your thoughts. At the same time I am within a hair of cancelling my subscription to the New York Times. Over the past few years I feel that the Times -which i used to regard as a real "paper of Record" (remember the scene in Dr. Strangelove where the Russian Ambassador say "Our source was the New York Times" and that was the end of the argument?)- has degenerated into increasing levels of pandering and PEOPLE like "celebrity gossip". WHY are lavish weddings by the 0.1% front page news? Why should we care about speculation? Why is the NYT indulging in a two-hour "news cycle"? Why are they assisting in the obsession over Trump? If newspapers are going to hang on to long-time readers they will really have to get back to some real journalism, otherwise i will shift my subscription to the likes of The Guardian, for all that my beloved Aunt in Scotland refers to it as a "Marxist Rag".
Saints Fan (Houston, TX)
Himm, you guys in the media should have played it straight. You didn't and we don't need you for the news anymore.
Daedalus (Rochester NY)
Come on. Newspapers today are just conduits for advertising. The advertisers are going elsewhere. You want subscribers? Create better newspapers. Oh and my NYT online subscription still doesn't shield me from popup ads. Nice going, guys.
flatbush (north carolina)
Why bother to support our local mullet Rapers. They were never well regarded and rapped a local fish at markets. They have limited ability to report news and use syndicated op ed . People believe in Jesus , the bible and Fox news. In terms of bigger papers the journalist are responsible for their demise .This paper is one that I can no longer stand but I have a hard time replacing it as i have read it all my life and hope for a better product from them
Joe Shanahan (THAILAND)
If newspapers like the Times were open minded and did not have a closed ended editorial board like it currently has, opinions would flourish and subscriptions would multiply. I have canceled my subscription and will rely on other sources.
fc123 (NYC)
After 26 years as a subscriber, I did (as many) cancel my NYT subscription this week. There have been many problems with the NYT over the years but there was always a sense that while the newspaper may briefly go off track, it has the ability to recover. This was true even during the darkest days of its drum-beating for the Iraqi war. In that scenario, Ms Renkl's arguments make sense. However, this view is no longer tenable. It is no longer mistakes or blindness under stress, but willful ideology being pushed in these pages. Facts are simply made up and when external fact checkers and authorities are engaged they are blatantly ignored (eg Wood, Wilentz, Carwardine, McPherson). There are consistent attempts to skew history on the op-ed page (Lincoln by Bouie) , and it now bleeds outside this section (eg to rehabilitate criminals for ideological reasons : Solanas) and even fight narrow internecine battles of the left (eg Stonewall history). The "hot" reporters are given repeated free passes despite conflicts of interest and truly awful external comments. Even while sympathetic with the intentions of many of the writers, it is impossible to see them as journalists, and supporting it with dollars will ultimately destroy the NYT. Its is no longer supporting a flawed but important institution, it is equivalent to being asked to fund "Of Pandas and People" in my local school. But to be fair, If Ms Renkl can make the latter case, I'll hold my nose and re-subscribe.
New Yorker (NYC)
Well it looks like my first comment got cancelled or lost in the wind.. I was trying to say nicely it's likely that many NYT readers would appreciate more local (NYC and otherwise) reporting, and objectivity if that's possible anymore, and maybe a little less opinion writing with its amplification of certain facts and omission of others.
diogenes (tennessee)
I agree we need daily newspapers. They are almost a necessity and even weeklies are badly needed. However the quality of today's papers is mostly dreck except for a few like the New York Times and Wall St. Journal which have maintained enough editors and so forth to put out well written, albeit slanted, daily newspapers. The other problem is the shameless bias of most daily newspapers. Most are blatantly biased against conservatives, Christians and Whites in general. They constantly stir up racial conflict and class and sectional grievances. They put out endless propaganda for this One World/New World Order that promotes mass Third world migration invasion into Western nations, "open borders", unfair trade, abortion on demand, "gay rights", etc. This has caused millions of readers and thousands of advertisers to have finally had enough and end their subscriptions and reduce their advertising. Thus many daily newspapers are in a downward spiral also brought on by the internet, social media, tv, etc. The solutions include going back to strictly objective reporting and saving slanted news for the editorial pages. Get out and sell subscriptions and make sure delivery is timely and constant. These steps alone will likely prolong the life of many American newspapers. It is very odd that newspapers in other Western nations are not just surviving but flourishing with high readership, slid advertising, and competition between 2 or more newspapers in most big European cities.
Chris Banks (United States)
I understand that it is challenging times for journalists. But I am not considering cancelling my NYT subscription due to a controversial op-ed or ad. I'm considering cancelling my subscription because I'm not sure anymore if the NYT is giving me information that is worth the subscription price. It seems with every passing year, this newspaper is hollowed out further. Shrill op-eds (often, centering around social justice) and superficial political pieces (often, fragrantly biased) create a thin gruel. I want investigative journalism, financial news, experts in different sectors explaining to me how the world works and what's happening. Not what I'm currently getting.
MDCOOKS8 (West Of The Hudson)
News organizations are doing a fine job at killing journalism themselves. The Editors of NYT should stand outside the NYT Building and look at the reflection the building captures, which is just a narrow view of 8th Ave, much like their own narrow view of many US citizens.
Bill (WA)
This appears days after I cancelled my subscription to online NYT for its failure of editorial oversight. Allowing political screed by Tom Cotton to appear on its op-ed page? Continuing to employ M Haberman as a so-called political journalist when she has become a shill for Donald Trump and his treasonous allies? Nope, these are not inadvertent errors but a chosen wrong direction. When newspapers - especially politically powerful ones - act badly, they must be taken to task. I do subscribe to a "state" and a local newspaper and will continue to do so until they prove themselves unworthy of support.
Wmk (Minneapolis)
I have cancelled my subscription to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. To many photos of criminals looting and burning my neighborhood being called "protesters" in the caption.
Demosthenes (NY)
@Wmk more often than we realize, the accompanying photos tell more of the story than the actual article. Good photojournalism is equally as important.
M (CA)
Journalism has become activism. Sad, but true.
Iconoclast Texan (Houston)
No one not feel sorry for newspapers or journalists. If the 4th Estate was fulfilling the role it was intended to serve in our democracy, then its would be lamented. Objectivity, fairness and lack of bias in reporting is a thing of the past as we are subjected to advocacy journalism by progressives who have taken over all of this country's institutions. It is with good reason the press is reviled by the majority in this country. Witness the firings of the editors at the Times, Inquirer and others by the woke journalist mob. The day of reckoning is coming and hopefully we will see something better arise from carcass of the mainstream media.
Kristin (Portland, OR)
No, we shouldn't cancel a newspaper subscription because of one offensive ad or headline, but we live in a society that actually thinks its okay to cancel a PERSON because of one unfortunate choice. The ability to look at the big picture isn't exactly something we excel at these days.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
@Kristin Absolutely right, Kristin. Plus, it is refreshing to read a comment that both makes a valid and important point, is succinct (unlike most of mine, alas), and says it well.
Demosthenes (NY)
@Kristin insightful. But who has the patience to rationalize?
Esteban S. (Bend, OR)
I have been so tempted to cancel my subscriptions to both the LA and NY Times. As a classic political conservative, there is no analysis or reporting that leans my way. Both are essentially an extension of liberal political orthodoxy. Throw in their absolute hatred of Trump (who I did not vote for), and I experience mind-bending bias in virtually all their reporting. I don't even think much of it is conscious advocacy, just a product of the education and fellow company of most of their reporters. Never is there an examination of why disparities exist in black arrest rates, health & education outcomes, etc etc. It is all just 'systemic racism' and 'white privilege'. Of course, there are some accurate roots in those descriptors, but no way are they the whole story. and Black Lives Matter, what about Tessa Majors' Life Mattered?
Demosthenes (NY)
@Esteban S. I don’t want to see it/read it/ listen to it/ try to understand it because it isn’t ME.
steve (ocala, fl)
Our local paper, the Star Banner was down to 2 sections and they raised their price to more than I pay for both the NYTimes and Washington Post online where I can read real news and not about someones old car or where a columnist went for spagetti.
Rich (mn)
Maybe local papers need to look at NPR and PBS as models of non-profit news reporting.
A M (New York)
7 days a week, 365 days a year, the New York Times is delivered to my driveway. Wouldn’t want to live without it.
Suzie Siegel (Tampa, FL)
Coincidentally, I just canceled my subscription to the Washington Post and clicked on the NYTimes to do the same. I'll keep my subscription to my local newspaper, which is just a shell of its former self. I have read newspapers since I was a child. I even tried to create my own in grade school. In junior high and high school, I was the editor of their newspapers and got my bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. I was a reporter and editor at major newspapers before I got cancer. Now I feel like I need to check out a wide range of media to try to determine the facts on any story. I'm tired of all the hate and conflict as the media narrows its views to its target audiences.
Biff (Allentown)
Having lived in Nashville and other southern communities over the years, it is interesting how the Times employs mostly seagull and cliche journalism to explain the region to readers. Now we have Ms. Renkl as a counter to that for which readers are understandably grateful. However, life in Nashville is far different than life in much of the rest of the South. Her columns are good, but they are from one charmed city in a vast and complex region.
New Yorker (NYC)
A staggering 7,800 journalists lost their jobs in 2019. Surely the NYT can hire a few of these journalists to expand their reporting capabilities. Of course in today's environment NYT wouldn't look for those best at delivering local NYC news, or analyzing international developments, but those who are the most "woke".
Glenn (New Jersey)
It will be increasingly difficult to keep print journalism alive (or even on-line serious journalism) when an increasing percentage of the population is graduating from college with 5th and 6th grade reading levels and the President of the U.S. can barely read a monitor that whose text has been dumbed-down to his illiteracy (they don't show the monitor so as far as I know it is just pictograms that he is looking at). We'll know the end is near when, OMG, texting language and imogis start to appear.
Jacquie (Iowa)
Shunning newspapers will not only hasten the death of journalism but the death of American democracy. Support all the newspapers you can.
Pop (PA)
My father was in the newspaper business his entire life. He graduated with honors from a prestigious journalism school and rose through the ranks. During his career he was fortunate to have published a newspaper that won a Pulitzer. He past away recently and sadly lamented the collapse of journalism. During his last years, when he picked up a paper, weather regional or national, he could almost instantly find obvious bias on the front page ... a clear agenda behind what should be pure news reporting. Bias that may not have been obvious to the average reader, but blatant bias to a lifelong newspaper man ... how it was said, the adjectives used, what was not said, etc. For him, the once noble endeavor of journalism had become corrupted.
Andy (Cleveland)
I finally cancelled my 25 year subscription to the Plain Dealer a couple months ago. Corporate owner, Advanced, had been bleeding the newsroom of guild writers for years. They finally chopped it to 14 this year. Those that remained, seasoned journalists, were removed from their beats and sent to the suburbs to report(literally!). Most of those took the buyouts. They merged the online entity ( with the print newsroom. The online news is basically poorly written clickbait and stupid people commenting on said articles. I miss my paper. But I cannot give Advanced my money. I still have my NYT & WaPo subscriptions for national and try to get local news through our npr affiliate.
Charles (Providence, Rhode Island)
This is a very timely article for me, as I cancelled my New York Times subscription last week. (I have access until mid-July.) I have read the Times daily since I subscribed in college in 2012. While this opinion piece frames people leaving as an issue relating to “one deeply offensive headline, or one flagrantly dangerous op-ed”, truth be told I am leaving because of the steady decline in the quality of the paper over these past few years. The Times’ hard journalism has become indistinguishable from the opinion page, and that same opinion page has become increasingly dogmatic. Guilting people like me into subscribing by appealing to the “death of journalism itself” is a red herring. Journalism will survive. Legacy news agencies like the Times—if they continue their precipitous decline and convince people like myself that their money is being wasted—will likely not.
Raindrop (US)
My local newspaper is online only, and mostly consists of recycled advice columns and “best of” local activities, with a fair number of glaring grammatical and other mistakes. They would like people to subscribe for more than the cost of a national newspaper with its accompanying detailed coverage. I am not inclined to do so. Sorry.
Mike (San Diego)
I certainly want to support newspapers but many, NY Times included seem to want to put a thumb on stories to steer a perspective as opposed to staying factual. It starts to feel like Yahoo news click bate.
Catherine (PNW)
While I appreciate your thoughts and agree generally with the need to support journalism I would like to point out that the NYT has been running articles that are nearly 3 months old. I subscribe, I even read the article in question but after a while you can't help but think 'filler'. Why doesn't the NYT put a couple more journalists on the payroll and update their offerings? 'College Made Them Feel Equal. The Virus Exposed How Unequal Their Lives Are'. Timely? Yes, but also 3 months old.
quidnunc (Toronto)
I recently cancelled my subscription to The Toronto Star because 80% of the content is licensed from AP and other newswires, The New York Times, The Washington Post. There's a slight amount of valuable original local and investigative reporting but the large majority of original content is op-ed pieces by anointed journalists who aren't particularly thoughtful compared to the online commentariat who also aren't particularly thoughtful but at least have some built up expertise in the topics they are discussing. So I read about the issues of the day from them and academics. The economics need to be fixed to make this work because I'm not paying for low quality content. Sorry.
John Faherty (Ohio)
I do love it so when newspaper people tell others that they must take the paper. No, make the paper good and relevant. Make me want to buy it.
Tim (CT)
Eric Weinstein made a great analogy. The media landscape is filled with hermit crabs. From the outside, the shells look the same as they did before. But there are new creatures inside those familiar looking shells that practice activism and not old time journalism. The NYTimes still plays an important role as activist in chief for the establishment. No single source ought be trusted in this clickbait world.
Henry S (London)
Seems pretty tone-deaf given that this newspaper's real name policy has run Scott Alexander and his hugely popular blog off the internet - and has seemingly been silent on it, in spite of the uproar over it.
rockafella (san francisco)
"News"? Read me the headline and I can probably guess the source. It's now all opinion all the time, in my opinion.
Donald (NJ)
"The only thing canceling your subscription to a newspaper will do is hasten the death of journalism itself." This is synonymous to destroying historical statues throughout the USA as that is "the death of history itself."
New Yorker (New York)
Why is it that New York City, three times the population of Toronto, has only one daily broadsheet, NY Times, while Toronto has three broadsheets - National Post, Globe and Mail and National Post. Moreover, New York is the media capital of the world. Some media center.
Frank F (Santa Monica, CA)
I wish there were a way to subscribe to a basket of newspapers by paying a bit more for one subscription. Currently, I spend $50-60 a month for online subscriptions to three papers: my local paper (Los Angeles Times), the New York Times, and (by donation) The Guardian. I'd love to be able to purchase a combined subscription that would also enable me to view the occasional article in other papers, particularly when they are providing local on-the-ground coverage of important events in their cities.
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Kansas)
@Frank F What a great idea. We used to subscribe to Apple News, but too much fluff and filler. Anyone else ?
thomas jordon (lexington, ky)
I gave up on newspapers once the truth about the Middle East wars was revealed. Collin Powell lying at the UN, all the false narratives from all media sources and ownership by corporate titans. I feel too many media outlets must pass the censorship from communist China before they publish a story. I just don’t trust them anymore. Our corrupt government is a product of “narrative journalism” where everyone reports the same narrative to support and maintain the corporate elites throughout the world. Critical thinking is dead and the journalist have themselves to blame.
Kate (Dallas)
A new media model needs to put in place because local newspapers are not going to come back. I support nonprofit models like Propublica and, here in Texas, the Texas Tribune. a former newspaper reporter myself, I do miss the glory days of local daily journalism, but sadly, I don't see my kids ever reading a local daily newspaper or website.
Ron Testa (Great Falls, Virginia)
Newspapers and media in general need to restore balance to their reporting maintain credibility. People are tired of newspapers such as the NYT and Washington Post that continue to ram their political and social agendas down the throats of a public that for the most part just wants unbiased and contextual reporting ... report the news and let the people decide. Fox News and conservative media guilty of this also. The Washington Post proclaims “Democracy Dies in Darkness” ... they’re hypocritical because they conceal / don’t report news that doesn’t fit their political and social narrative.
Enlynn Rock (Virginia)
I often wonder if the people who threaten to cancel their subscriptions because of an article they found abhorrent or biased really do. I cancelled my local paper a long time ago because of its anti black, pro gun and religion stances, as well as its shoddy editing and nasty letters to the editors. I was tempted recently to make some sort of gesture like that in response to the Cotton piece in the Times, but of course it was just bluster on my part. Can’t do without WaPo, The Guardian, and the Times. Atlantic has been calling to me lately, too.
Shiva (Vienna, Virginia)
Democracy dies in darkness just the way plants die in darkness. Newspapers are the light that sustains democracy just the way sun sustains life on our planet. Subscribe to local newspapers. More subscriptions mean lower cost for all subscribers. Also remember to vote in local elections.
Mike (Somewhere In Idaho)
Interesting thesis. Over the last 6 months I’ve begun to seriously consider dropping this paper. I might be very mistaken but it has become almost, almost, a mouthpiece only to tell stories about how really bad President Trump is. On and on and on. They have become hysterical in tone, marginal in reporting the story in a full breadth and depth that is critical to know just what they might mean. Lately the outright pandering to the race issue is now just a drumbeat. On and on from every angle until the battering becomes only background noise. I am not responsible for all of this, take personal responsibility in your actions, I think. I’m not paying you anything for your anger. This paper seems to believe, as I suspect most of its loyal ideologues do, is that the Federal Government, in the form of President is responsible for everything that happens, even their daily succor. This is not possible. Grow up, take your life in your own hands, invest in making changes in the ways we have available. Quit virtue signaling. I believe that soon I will join the ranks of the retreating. Not from life but from this newspaper.
Mike (San Diego)
@Mike spoken as what I suspect a true white man in Idaho.
Steve Crea (Boise, Idaho)
Ms. Renkl, you make many good points. However, permit me to make this point, regarding an article which appeared yesterday in the NYT entitled "How Michael Flynn's Defense Team Found Powerful Allies", by Mark Mazzetti, Charlie Savage, and Adam Goldman: Unless I missed it in the lengthy but generally well-written, piece, I found absolutely no mention of several especially salient and crucial points regarding the prosecution of General Michael Flynn: The prosecutors are unequivocally guilty of prosecutorial misconduct, as they withheld significant exculpatory evidence from the defense team, in violation of numerous federal guidelines; The record will unequivocally demonstrate that General Flynn was targeted by outgoing President Obama and his administration because he had clashed with Obama on crucial national defense issues, most notably the Iran deal. He was set up by the disgraceful FBI Director Comey; Further, the plea deal that Flynn initially pled guilty to was arguably coerced, as he was set to lose his home to pay legal fees in his defense, and was further threatened that his son would be prosecuted in some manner; Ms. Renkl, why should readers trust your organization, and other journalistic publications, if they fail to paint a balanced picture of crucial events? The writers' failure to mention these issues of prosecutorial misconduct, withholding of exculpatory evidence, and other crucial facts, suggests journalistic failures and bias.
Cousy (New England)
I subscribed to the Boston Globe for 25 years. It was not bought by Gatehouse. It was bought by a rich guy, just like the Washington Post was bought by Bezos. I thought that the Globe would have a similar trajectory as the Post - that continued private ownership would buffer the difficult advertising climate and maintain the Globe’s quality. But the Globe is almost unreadably bad now, marked by poor writing and shallow reporting. I know it is important to support local news, so I resubscribed after I got a pitiful pitch: $1 for six months. I try to make up for the local news deficit by being extra involved in my community. But newspaper owners need to do their part - low quality isn’t attributable only to a changing economic model for newspapers.
AstridOnThePrairie (Nebraska)
@Cousy It was John Henry's wife who destroyed the Globe. However, I knew it was a sad day for the Globe when the Love Leyters column became it's most popular column.
Hugh Massengill (Eugene Or)
The theory is that the news of the future, and more importantly, the ad revenue, will come from the digital world. No need to print anything out, one can just get on the internet and read away. I have a digital subscription to our local Eugene paper, but do wonder if all these choices are actually limiting our access Time will tell. The internet news gives me instant access to so much info, so much news from so many sources, but in the process makes me the publisher, the investigator, the reporter. I am probably not up to the task, all in all. Here's hoping the NYTimes keeps doing its thing for at least 30 years, after that the poor devils trying to listen and learn and build careers will probably be victims of Russianization, the process of turning all media to be propaganda for the powers that be...centralization of power results in centralization of wealth results in Presidents for Life, don't you know. Hugh
AstridOnThePrairie (Nebraska)
I mourn papers like the New Orleans Times-Picayune, that long ago went to three-day-a-week status. Imagine that, for a city that size. Also, didn't the T-P purchase the Baton Rouge newspaper?
W in the Middle (NY State)
Local restaurants – at least till President’s Day – were prospering in this country. Dining out – especially reasonably-priced neighborhood fare – gave a change in venue and vibe for less cost and time than an Uber to the airport, just one way. But even then, the number of places featuring live music had plummeted. Economics seemed insurmountable. A 200-guest wedding with a $10K band – do the math and see if there’s a “trickle-down” market for house bands. Sooo, Margaret… Restaurateurs test the upscale/local design point – but reality is that few home-grown eateries punch up to that next tier. Into this cyber-gastronomic milieu, enter the NYT. Smart – going for the Danny Meyer price-point. Somebody of some influence at the Times’s obviously been glomming ShackBurgers (and Los Tacos tacos?) since the time of one location each. But – at that price – are you truly a journalistic epicurean value, or just one more of those TS-sited places running on reputation and a big billboard. And ask your rockstar colleagues, providing they don’t take umbrage at the parallel – do they consider themselves star waitstaff, chefs, farmers, critics – or troubadours – to your readers. All in the ecosystem – but at vastly different counts. PS Quit several times, but – as said Lecter to Starling – decided the world more interesting with you in it. PPS WSJ sent a survey asking if $20/month was a fair price. Invited them to discuss, over some fava beans and liver.
Mike S. (Eugene, OR)
For now I will keep my subscription, Ms. Renkl, but the paper here in Eugene is full of articles from elsewhere, sometimes shortening them by removing important paragraphs. There are spelling and grammar mistakes that even spell check should have picked up. They get the location of other universities and their mascots wrong. Stories end suddenly, and 9 pm is the cutoff for printing the next day, so Saturday's night football game is reported Monday morning. What I took away most from your article, however, was the analogy applied to SCIENCE right now: scientists get things wrong, even when there is peer review. Sometimes, they get things real wrong, like the issue with masks and the too long debate as to what constituted asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic Covid as to how it may spread. But to paraphrase you, "canceling science... will not cure the country of what ails it."
AR Clayboy (Scottsdale, AZ)
Thank you for reminding me to once again consider canceling my newspaper subscriptions after being an almost daily reader of the NYT, Washington Post and WSJ since my college days in the early 1970s. I will confess to being a Constitutional conservative and free-market capitalist, who believes that individual liberty is our most important right of citizenship. I will also confess to enjoying a very comfortable retirement from senior positions in government, private law practice and C-suite jobs in a Fortune 10 company. All things that might make me a subscriber you might not want or don't want to hear from. I do believe that sound journalism can play an important role in a well-functioning democracy. And I am not offended when a paper has a distinct editorial point of view. Unfortunately, I see most modern news media as having been taken over by the intolerant cancel culture that first gained a foothold in our universities. Now I see the major news outlets seeking to engineer public opinion in pursuit of political results. Among other things, I found the forced resignation of the NYT editorial page editor to be appalling and scary. I feel confident in my ability to make up my own mind on the important issues of the day. I no longer trust the media to fairly inform that process. The industry wants to blame technology for its demise, but I think many consumers find little value in newspapers that lack fairness and objectivity. It's actually quite sad.
Edward J. Knittel (Camp Hill, PA)
We have canceled our local newspaper several years back for a number of reasons: poor delivery, poor writing and editing and general poor coverage of any news except for sports. News coverage of local, state, national and international was limited to a paragraph from a wire service. The paper used to be good, 30 years ago, but the readership expectations diminished to the point that penn state football was the only news that matter.
Matt Wong (San Francisco)
I struggle daily with my commitment to the NYT. The recent firing of the op-ed editor and the unending lecturing can feel like a burden rather than a product that values me as a consumer.
Steve Devitt (Tucson)
Three points bother me about this piece. 1)The editor was not aware of what was in the paper until after publication. 2) Newspaper started trading newsroom jobs for profit years ago. 3) Newspapers were in demand because they were indispensable -- now they charge for obituaries and sell "advertorials," while continuing to publish what they think their readers want to read.
Chris (10013)
The state of "journalism" is the reason for its steady decline. Neutrality has been replaced with a constant flow of opinion pieces masquerading as having been written with neutrality. And no, it is not just the Right, the left is as guilty. If you want to improve journalism, put in place liability laws that provide damages or equitable relief when journalists inaccurately write damaging stories. When we can rely on the Press as a truth-teller, it will have more subscribers
Average Joe (Philadelphia)
While I understand the occasional urge to cancel a subscription to the Times, it is not something I would do because of endless educational and social benefits the paper has provided to me. Rest assured, my children will be reading the Times. The Times, can do better, however. The termination of Editor Bennett was shameful and actually, hypocritical. Following the Senator Tom Cotton piece, readers and even NYT employees threatened that Senator Cotton’s article, which sought to bring in the national guard to quell protests, would jeopardize black lives. This claim was far fetched on its face, and then a couple of weeks later there was an Op-Ed, which advocated for abolishing the police. Such a measure would lead to the deaths of thousands of innocent people, people of color, especially. There of course, was no uproar. I love the Times, but some more balanced reporting—which might be impossible given its leadership brass, which seems to have been infected with the cancel culture—would be welcome.
GMT (Tampa)
I also hope the Tennessean survives. Its leadership in civil rights is well known, especially among those of us old enough to remember when newspaper circulation was growing, not declining. But the cancellations, the knee jerk unforgiving attitude is what we see today -- that the mob is so angry that history, context and perspective do not matter. The irony is that many newspapers are at fault for this attitude. For example, the New York Times' coverage has become more crusading, in my view. I dropped a subscription on another newspaper last week because the coverage had become blatantly biased, rife with errors of omission and over the top in its leftist crusade. No one should expect or encourage readers to pay for that unbalanced coverage no matter what side they promote.
Elliot Silberberg (Steamboat Springs, Colorado)
Close on to the expiration date, I haven’t yet, but likely will renew my combo digital and print version of “The International New York Times.” Getting a hardcopy delivered early to my door in Milan is pricey ($380 per year for 310 issues) and the news is a day or more stale compared to what’s on the Times’ on line platform. I’m not using business smarts in preferring the fish wrapper, fly swatter, Luddite version, but spend way too much time in front of screens already and like to carry around the paper and read it in more relaxed settings. I could do that on my phone too, and with text I can make bigger to see, but a newspaper made of paper satisfies an old urge. I think the Times was wrong to pull political cartoons (a Luddite choice) and to get up-tight about Sen.Tom Cotton’s gung ho solution to the Floyd protests. That was Cotton’s name on that opinion piece, not the paper’s. The paper gets a lot of things right. With lies and falsehoods in the woodwork today, its respectable views ever more deserve our support and respect.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
I’ve subscribed to this newspaper almost continuously for forty years (I let it lapse for a time due to delivery issues, but even then I purchased a copy most days). Every so often the Times does something so egregious, or downright stupid, that I swear I will cancel my subscription. But I can’t let it go. This paper is a crucial news source for me, albeit one of several. Unfortunately, a local newspaper is not among those “several.” My local paper — owned by Media News Group, a holding of hedge fund Alden Capital — is a collection of wire stories and syndicated pieces, with a meager sprinkling of local reporting. I am not going to subscribe to a bad newspaper solely as a gesture of support for local journalism. I can find local news reporting elsewhere. Better reporting. The Tennessean is a Gannett paper. Gannett owns USA Today, so there’s that to consider. Ms. Renkl, in illustrating The Tennessean’s crucial role in covering local events, mentions tornados. We don’t have tornadoes, but we have earthquakes, wildfires and mudflows. In the aftermath of all those things, television, radio and (since the advent of social media) Twitter are far more helpful than newspapers for disseminating up to the minute information. Newspapers are better at reporting in depth pieces, delayed. Most local newspapers no longer have the staff to produce in depth content. Even when they aren’t publishing astoundingly offensive advertising, it’s increasingly difficult to love a local paper.
joe (atl)
When I was young the Atlanta paper used to regularly run an ad titled "Why Do the Heathen Rage?" It too was a "long, incoherent, biblically illiterate warning" about communists, Muslims, whatever. Nobody paid the least bit attention and the paper just collected the much needed ad revenue. It's interesting to see that people cancel their subscriptions over issues like this now a days.
New Yorker (New York)
How is it possible that New York, three times the size of Toronto in population, has only one daily broadsheet, the NY Times, while Toronto has three broadsheets - Globe and Mail, National Post and Toronto Star? Moreover, New York City is supposed to be the media capital of the world. Some media center.
boji3 (new york)
One of the reasons people are canceling subscriptions is that newspapers and the current crop of journalists are no longer objective. Thirty and forty something journalists have learned to be ideological, not to be logical or reasonable. Just yesterday there was a piece in this newspaper that was a rationalization for writing articles that do not even pretend to be objective. Opinion sections are the place for opinions- the news section should be a place of objective news. Ideally, the front page of either a left or right leaning paper should be so similar that one should not even know which paper one is reading. That is news, and no one does that anymore.
Aaron S (Ankeny IA)
What if your community doesn't have a newspaper? For those of us in news deserts (we live in the 7th largest city in IA) has less coverage of local events than my old home town of 1500. Journalists if you build it they will come.
j s (oregon)
"If it matters to Oregonians, it's in the Washington Post". Remember that from the old Bob Packwood story? I moved to Oregon in 1987. I subscribed to the paper for years, but I now can't remember the last time I even purchased a paper issue. It must be at least 20 years, likely more. I understand the argument, Margaret is making, but I still can't bring myself to resubscribe. I've even exchanged emails with the editor. In the past I found biased coverage (and I'm liberal/progressive) from mundane issues such as dogs (I'm pro dog), to city politics. I glance at the digital front page daily, and I find poorly written headlines, and superficial articles. I find inconsequential "interest" and sports stories "above the [digital] fold". Sorry, the Oregonian in particular has brought part of this upon itself, and I believe long before newspaper consolidation that has been rife in the industry. I subscribe to the NYTimes, and the New Yorker. That'll have to do for now.
mah (Florida)
I am now a new subscriber to the Tennessean.
Sipa111 (Seattle)
Last year I cancelled my long-time subscription to the Wall Street Journal. I could no longer reconcile the mostly good journalism with the editorial and op-ed pages which seemed to be drawn mostly from Breitbard and Infowars. I wondered how the selection of stories in the rest of the paper was influenced by the literally muck that was appearing on the editorial/op-ed pages and that my subscription was supporting this muck. I cancelled the WSJ and started subscribing to my local paper.
Journalism has been thoroughly discredited by its own behavior at the national level. Between cable news networks and print affiliates of the DNC, lies have become the basis for the biggest stories of the day, highlighted by a three year promotion of the Russia-collusion hoax. If local journalists are suffering, they can look to NY, D.C. and Atlanta for the reasons why.
EMiller (Kingston, NY)
I subscribe to my "local" paper which is owned and operated by a huge national conglomerate. Why? Because it does cover local issues of importance to me. Because it carries nationally syndicated columnists who the NYTimes doesn't carry. Because it supports the few local journalists/photographers who benefit from it and the local businesses who advertise in it.
August West (Midwest)
Could the author be any more patronizing? "The Tennessean will never again have the power to turn an entire city toward the cause of moral justice, it’s true, but these journalists are nevertheless heroes, as the calamities of this year have proven beyond any fretful, tweet-fueled doubt." As if NYT doesn't have its own issues. Message to Renkl: Local journalists, despite economics and greed heads like GateHouse and Gannett, continue producing world-class journalism: Look at lists of Pulitzer winners. To write something like this announces that a good journalist in a small to mid-size town working for peanuts can't change the world. Untrue. Small papers spanning from West Virginia to Nevada have, in recent years, made the world a better place by doing what journalists have always done. It's an uphill battle, sure, but quit acting like local journalism is an afterthought when it comes to breaking stories that make a difference. A lot of these rags are trusted more by their readers than readers of the NYT still trust the Grey Lady, which is far from what she once was.
Max (NYC)
Too late. The only reason I keep my subscription is to keep track of the various narratives that the editors are pushing. Real objective reporting is long gone.
JanLA (Los Angeles)
Thank you for this reminder of the benefits of news and the challenges facing the news industry. I will continue my current subscriptions!
Amy (North Carolina)
Being a Murfreesboro (TN) native, I always make sure I read your columns, and I appreciate them so much. John Seigenthaler was a legend, and I have fond memories of my grandparents reading the Tennessean. Thank you!
Michael Ebner (Lake Forest IL)
Herman Metsky, my grandfather of blessed memory, arrived as a child in the US in 1905 from what today is Ukraine. Never making it beyond the 8th grade, he devoted his life to the newspaper industry. His pride and joy was a green shack at the intersection of Broad and Market streets in Newark, NJ where he peddled an array of daily newspapers. As I was growing up my grandfather brought my family three or four papers a day. I became an avid consumer of the daily press. During the 1950s my heroes included Red Smith, the legendary sports columnist for the 'New York Herald Tribune.' When it folded -- clearly an signal moment in the demise of the daily newspaper -- he moved over to the 'NY Times.' Hence I learned about the likes of James Reston, Drew Middleton, Sydney Schanberg, Sid Zion, Charlotte Curtis, and numerous others. Today we live in a suburban subdivision some 30 miles north of Chicago. My wife and I have an unbroken newspaper habit. We subscribe to the NYT as well as the 'Chicago Tribune.' The latter is bravely carrying forward, but it is confronting immense challenges. We also buy a 'Wall Street Journal' every Saturday to read Peggy Noonan plus its outside 'Review' section. We used to subscribe to the 'Chicago Daily News,' an outstanding afternoon paper but it expired in 1977. On our street of every ten residences only one in ten, by my back-of-the-hand calculation, subscribes to a daily paper seven days per week. My grandfather would be appalled.
PLombard (Ferndale, MI)
I do support national and local news organizations - one of my subscriptions is to the Detroit Free Press (Gannett/USA Today Network.) Last week they published a full page ad, "Support Local News" in huge letters. Same (and next) day one-third of the opinion pages were out of state writers. The following Sunday had no letters to the editor. They have been removing local reporters and pushing USA Today stories. They publish self-congratulatory pieces when they contribute to charities. I've written to them that I don't like their approach but to no avail. Some day soon, my only option is cancelling my subscription. I don't want to, but I can't get their attention.
John Harkey (Nashville)
As a Nashvillian, when I saw the ad, I wrote the editor and complained. My interest was knowing how it happened. I got a shocked reply indicating he was as horrified as I. We don't know yet how it slipped through, except maybe negligence on the part of the fired employee. Margaret Renkl has gone beyond that question to use this incident to explore the issue of why we need newspapers, even when they make big mistakes, and why the mostly unbiased journalism they represent is under threat. I take several of my cues from Ms. Renkl (e.g., front yard as a sanctuary for nature), and also buy subscriptions to several newspapers, including the Tennessean. Good article and it should give everyone the idea of looking up a bio of Seigenthaler and learning of some of his civil rights credentials.
PP (Montana)
I just dropped my subscription to the Washington Post. They are good but not as rigorous as the Old Gray Lady. Tell Sulzie (Greg) to keep up the great work. I've been a subscriber here in Montana since Hector had young teeth. 50 years, anyway. The Pony express used to deliver my print copies to the wilderness, sometimes a week late. But it was always "news" to me. - Rabbi Billy (Yiddy Up!)
Elizabeth (NC)
I think the media is so agenda-oriented these days, that news papers and news itself are treated with skepticism. But what I find most interesting is the evolution of the people deivering the paper to the minority who do not have online subscriptions. 50 years ago, only children on bikes had newspaper routes. The same way that only teens flipped burgers for part time jobs. Over 20 years ago, I noticed that these menial unskilled positions became full time adult jobs.
MarkDFW (Dallas)
The first thing I did the day after Election Day 2016 was subscribe to NYT On-Line (I already had one other national and pne local paper). I felt that as a nation we needed to nurture the free press more than ever. And indeed, it has been our best defense against a corrupt and malicious governing leadership. If the free press sinks, we all sink.
Walter Bruckner (Cleveland, Ohio)
My family’s paper was the Cleveland Press. It came out in the afternoon, when kids could deliver it after school on bikes, and when working men who didn’t have the opportunity to put their feet up on their nonexistent desks at 9am had time to read it. Bars after first shift were filled with guys drinking, reading the Press, and arguing about sports. Then the Reagan depression came and a sleezy, Trump-type Republican bought the Press so he could close it and sell its land to an developer. The developer built a Lakefront office building that today is the headquarters of one of the biggest union busting law firms in the country, Jones Day. The paper that we are currently stuck with, The Plain Dealer, has been a corporate mouthpiece since it’s inception. It has now been dwindling in size and influence for two decades. It just broke the first newspaper guild in the nation. Hopefully, it will go out of business soon, thereby giving Cleveland a chance to go beyond the pablum it dishes out every (or is it now every other?) day. There are things worse than a one newspaper town. There is such a thing as a one newspaper town where the one newspaper has a negative effect on its community. That’s pretty much the definition of the Plain Dealer. Let it die.
Jack V. (Cleveland Heights, Ohio)
@Walter Bruckner Thanks, Walter! Though the PD is a shadow of itself (we finally cancelled a few months ago), local journalism thrives in several media including Ideastream radio & television, Scene, Crain's, Freshwater Cleveland, Patch, and The Land. Sun Newspapers provide some local coverage. is a mess, but provides local coverage, as well. These assignments don't pay well and times are tough for journalists. They need your support!
Doc (Atlanta)
My high school English teacher gave me every Monday her previously read Sunday edition of The New York Times. I've continued reading this essential newspaper wherever I've been throughout the country and the world. Family-owned newspapers have all but disappeared. The few dailies and weeklies owned by absentee corporations fail to deliver relevant content and regularly publish regurgitated articles. They have assured their death. The Times and The Washington Post have shown that online newspapers can be interesting and entertaining. While I prefer the feel of newsprint, I can appreciate the convenience of the internet.
Bill Brasky (USA)
I restarted a long since expired local newspaper subscription during the pandemic when I realized that without advertising or subscriptions, the paper couldn't operate.
Heidi (Upstate, NY)
I cringed when a highly educated friend said that they don't believe any media. I still get my local paper print edition. Sure do love the digital Times, Post and Vanity Fair. Plus occasionally the WSJ, when they have an affordable offer. How has Trump actually managed to make an intelligent education person believe all media are liars? Every profession has good and bad actors, the fact that the biggest con man in history has conned so many, I still find unbelievable at times.
Art (An island in the Pacific)
Just this week my local paper announced that after 84 years of publishing five days a week it would now publish a print edition just twice a week. It blames advertising declines due to the pandemic for the cut back. Regionally, I can't bring myself to subscribe to the once paramount Denver Post after the change in ownership there. I am subscribing--or donating to--the Colorado Sun instead. Nationally it's NYT and WaPo.
Joseph Huben (Upstate NY)
Capitalism is like the game Monopoly. It results in the concentration of wealth and power. The usefulness and benefits of capitalism rely on government regulation that limits the concentration of wealth and power and preserve competition. Unrestrained capitalism always produces monopoly, ends competition, and diminishes knowledge in the news industry. Decreasing the number of newspapers diminishes our access to the truth and the abuses that allow news organizations to become propaganda platforms is obvious. The response to Coronavirus and police brutality reveals how misinformation, false equivalence, lies, and propaganda can endanger every American. Just look at Florida and Texas explode with new cases, overwhelming hospitalization, and deaths thanks to an uninformed public, a misinformed or deluded public. FOX, the Mercers, Sinclair carry water for Trump, made his election possible and pump out propaganda that supports oligarchy and fascism. We need the FCC to restore and expand the fairness doctrine. We need a fact check rating system of news organizations that will deny the license to broadcast if they exceed a limit of factual errors. We need newspapers many news papers and we need the National Enquirer to be banned in all supermarkets where every shopper is exposed to “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”
Mary (Lake Worth FL)
One of my greatest pleasures is waking up and having WaPo and nyt delivered right to my hands electronically on my iPad while still snug under my covers in bed.
Lee Irvine (Scottsdale Arizona)
I agree. You have to read the enemies dispatches every day to see what they are up to.
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
I have NYT online except for Sunday. I have WaPo and my local paper, and the Guardian, and the Globe, and a few magazines as online only. I read constantly, but I'm not going to have trees felled and shipped long distances to me any more. Find a way to make money by online subscription, because ads have gotten so obnoxious, bouncing around the screen, trying to sell me stuff I just bought, that I pay for my adblockers to save me. Deal with all that, and there will be a paying market for real news.
mountainweaver (Welches, Oregon)
The Oregonian WAS one of the premier local papers in the nation. It got sold and sold, staff laid off, it now is owned by a company in Staten Island N.Y., 1/3 of the paper is sports, 1/3 their version of local and national news and 1/3 fluff (gardening, TV, entertainment) It is just a few pages, no local issues, no editorial or op-ed. Delivery became haphazard, It arrived 50% of the time. AND, they wonder why they are no longer anyone's daily newspaper? Meanwhile what has filled the void is online news, always accessible. Subscriptions to the NYTimes and Washington Post are worth their weight in gold. What used to arrive by mail a day later is now at my fingertips. We have evolved and while I miss the in-depth local articles I am thrilled to receive my NYTimes online.... The desire for good reporting and educated, informed opinions still exists, corporate take-overs have destroyed the "newspapers"... reducing the locals to rags.
SD (small town NY)
Journalists and newspapers need our support, they are seemingly the " last stand " … the historic standards to which the journalistic profession adhere are still upholding and telling truth … which is desperately needed, more than ever. Staring at social media "news" is no substitute for actually * reading * !
Sharon Conway (North Syracuse, NY)
I read the New York Times paper every Sunday. I get it delivered. I have read paper newsprint since 1963. I will not give up my paper. I get the Washington Post on the computer. And I have the local paper delivered on Sunday. I wish I had the time to read more newsprint. My social studies teacher got us interested in reading the paper when I was 15. Can't live without it. Don't want to.
Christopher Hawtree (Hove, Sussex, England)
An interesting history. Here in Hove the local daily newspaper, the Argus, is also owned by Gannett. One of the problems is corporate ownership of local newspapers, and the result is that so many articles are palpably recycled press releases.
KJ (Tennessee)
Margaret, the "appalling advertisement" was exactly that, but what about all the quack ads for useless medical interventions The Tennessean publishes, most of which are intended to victimize seniors? Today we have "slashes embarrassing leakages by 79%" and "have sex again" mixed in with the normal ads for various goods and services. Often there are way more than two. In other words, they aren't picky what they publish if it pays.
TalkToThePaw (Nashville, TN)
I keep my subscription to the Tennessean for the purpose of media support regardless of the fact that I infrequently read it. In addition to the excellent reporting, I also subscribe to other news media for the same reason--NYT, WaPo, The Atlantic the New Yorker. Yes, I'm liberal in my beliefs; TV news often provides alternative views for consideration. Without real fact-based news, we all will be as ignorant and mislead as people who rely on a single source. such as Fox News.
Peter (Edinburgh)
So what about that "sales manager who had approved the ad"? My bet is they aren't a journalist.
Thijs4419 (Netherlands)
Google and Facebook, with all their billions, could easily afford to keep local news organizations running.
William (Sweetwater)
I don't in any way support cancel culture. I wouldn't "cancel" my local newspaper subscription for just one ad. However, I don't currently have a subscription to any local newspapers. For one thing, I have been regularly moving from city to city every 1-2 years for the last several years. I have no connection to the local area and its news stories. But more importantly, I feel the news is currently 24/7 infotainment and propaganda. The news is no better than Facebook or Twitter. It provides the illusion of information and staying informed while basically trying to make people scared and angry to keep them engaged. Rarely does the news go in depth with stories. The TV local news is often just parroting a script, the same script on every channel. The news often has a narrative and reports the facts (and omits facts) to fit the narrative. You aren't keeping me informed, you're just feeding me overblown current events to stoke the emotions and tell me how to feel and think. In particular, the NY Times has a neoliberal Democrat bias and seems to try to tell me to hate Trump and Republicans. I've got better things to do than obsess over Trump. I'm honestly thinking of cancelling my NY Times subscription. My biggest reason for sticking around is your coronavirus coverage and maps, and even that is sensationalized. I already deleted Facebook, Twitter, etc so why shouldn't I also delete the news?
Urban.Warrior (Washington, D.C.)
Along with magazines, we give newspaper subscriptions as gifts. It's surprising how many people think good journalism should be free.
joe Hall (estes park, co)
I'd love to keep subscriptions but the reality is the police unions have way too much control over them and always present slanted news. Look at how long it took for any of our media to finally report murders by cops. Then look at how fast they stopped covering the subject as soon as Trump was announced as the Reep candidate. It stopped completely and it's not like the media doesn't receive the complaints from every citizen they just ignore them in favor of what outrageous thing Trump says. How about a return to 70's journalism?
Richard (College Park, MD)
I don't mind newspapers selling ads to insane people. It takes their money and supports journalism with it. I'm more concerned about the propaganda in newspapers themselves. My local paper, The Washington Post, has dropped most local coverage. Many articles, especially the clickbait featured on its website, could be distilled to two words: Trump bad. Many others support the popular narrative of systemic anti-black racism. I'm open to those points of view, but they should be presented as points of view. The Post has begun calling the theory of systemic racism "well established," as if its own repitition of the phrase could established it. To squelch the noise, I called the Post last week to cancel my subscription. The synthesizer-masked voice on the other end, intermittently lost with the VOIP connection from a Philippine call center, begged me to stay, at half-price. I relented for now, accepted the new rate, and my wife is glad to keep her daily crossword, but the modern form of propagandistic "journalism" is hanging by a thread in my household.
Mark (Washington DC)
An advertisement, any advertisement should be allowed by any medium at all times with one critical rule. The advertiser must clearly be identified and must be able to back up any claim in the ad with facts. This goes for hamburgers and political opinions... Every category. If consumers want to boycott a medium because of an opinion or a paid ad then so be it. Those boycotts are short lived and media executives should know better. The two biggest boycott's during the last decade were Chick Filet and Rush Limbaugh. Both entities not only survived but both grew faster than any of their competition.
Joshua Schwartz (Ramat-Gan, Israel)
I grew up with the NYT as my parents subscribed to it. They very often did not agree with its editorial policy, but still subscribed and read it. Before the internet I could not read the NYT for many years on a regular basis, but travelers would bring a Sunday Times. Eventually internet subscriptions were available (after being free for a number of years). I subscribed. I disagree with a good deal of the editorial policy and with many of the op-eds sometimes question the objectivity of the news reports. But as long as I can afford it and am able to read it, I will continue to subscribe. As long as I have energy and time, I will continue to write comments when ticked off. Newspapers are an important source not only of information but of the Zeitgeist of time (yes, sort of a tautology here) and place. It is not byte-size but it gets to the point so I do not have to watch TV news which drags on and on. I also subscribe to a Hebrew-language newspaper with whose editorial policy I vehemently disagree, but how else can I learn in a coherent manner, usually, what "others" are thinking. You are correct Ms. Renkl. Newspapers are important and need to survive. In an ideal world they could do so even without shtick and fluff (and even the NYT is guilty of this). If you are angry about an article, write a comment or letter; don't cancel the subscription.
SL (Los Angeles)
Welcome to cancel culture. No one doing the cancelling cares about the decimation of culture. If newspapers care about their survival, maybe they should start thinking twice about promoting the "progressive" agenda of cancel culture so heavily.
Chico (Providence)
Everything Ms. Renkl says is true. There is no substitute for journalism, the investigation and reporting of facts. That is true on a global as well as a local level. I'm a NYT subscriber. I'm impressed every day with the breadth of subject matters and facts which the NYT brings every day. The NYT's COVID coverage is outstanding. But . . as a white straight male, I am increasingly chagrined by the paper's compulsion to publish pieces that agitate against me for qualities I have no control over. An example of the genre: "For These Women, a FIRE That Burns Too Male and Too White," published last year. The story couldn't just be framed as new positive diverse perspectives, it had to be framed in opposition to my assigned group. Why?
H Silk (Tennessee)
I cancelled the Tennessean a long time ago because I was unhappy with the Gannett takeover. Gannett has a history of taking decent papers and turning them into USA Today clones. Also, all the reporters were made to reapply for their jobs which I thought was terrible. In any case the doomsday ad provided some much needed levity into my day when I read about it on WKRN's site. We have all kinds of right wing religious crazies around here so I figured we'd see something like this sooner or later. Too bad such a big deal was made out of it.
Vish B (Keansburg NJ)
I got a promotional subscription for NYT last June for $1/week and it expired couple of weeks back. I contacted the customer service to cancel their regular rates but they offered to continue the basic digital subscription for another year at the discounted rate. It is ok with me for a causal news reader and will continue to support. Only problem is I am not able to share the news with non subscribers. I thank NYT to for turning me to be at-least news savvy?
Just Ben (Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico)
If only this column could change attitudes. Unfortunately cynical (Republican) readers will view it as self-serving. Of course they would rather that voters be ignorant anyway, and newspapers are an antidote to ignorance. But you omitted to identify the key factor in this, at least before the virus came along: Facebook. Shutting down Facebook is essential to preserving what remains of local journalism. America can't be the kind of country we want without strong local journalism--or with Facebook. Shutting down Facebook may seem extreme, and have little support for now, but unless we do it soon, a poorer, narrower, much more ignorant country will result.
Literati21 (The Road)
Oh no, i wouldn't Cancel, because Cancelling is like Reaching-Out and Engaging and Embracing and Interacting to Pursue the Narrative and absolutely impossible for an man with feelings to uh ah DO.
David Henry (Concord)
The idea that we want to be "informed" remains laughable. That ended in 1980, when we elected a man who vowed to bankrupt the country. Brilliant. Even after the death of the middle class, we chose again to continue the GOP massacre. Newspapers are way beside the point. American indifference triumphs!
Zellickson (USA)
Some of us still have our jobs. But we were fired and brought back at a fraction of the pay, and no benefits, contracts, job security or health insurance. The "lamestream" media isn't a myth.
Ed S (Nantucket, mA)
The media has already signed the death warrant for journalism. Objectivity has gone out the window. All we get now from the bully pulpit is opinion. Both sides are guilty.
Autarkic (USA)
My late 1950's paperboy route was primarily on uppermost Paulison Avenue, beginning catercorner across the busy intersection from fabled Pink's barroom establishment, where the aforementioned crosstown thoroughfare meets Montgomery and Wickham Streets, and ending where the said major artery reaches Grand and Sanford Streets, at the only sidewalk vantage point in Passaic City where I could behold the star-spangled tippiest-top of the Empire State Building. In theory I received a penny and a half per nickel paper but I first had to collect the nickel.
John (Western New York State)
This is a good read. I appreciate columns like this from journalists in different parts of the country. Thank you.
K. OBrien (Kingston, Canada)
The headline was not what I expected the story to be about. I thought it was reasons why the paper copy of the NYT's is till safe to read. I am a digital subscriber to the NYT's and also a digital subscriber to the Globe and Mail,Canada's Nation newspaper. Two days a week I also get a paper copy of the Globe and Mail home delivered. So I asked both papers "How Safe is a paper copy?". The G&M gave me extensive details on what they do to provide a safe product. The NYT's never replied.
Thrill is Gone (Columbus)
Illiteracy (people who cannot read) isn't as much a problem in the US as is aliteracy (people who choose not to read). Rather they lather themselves up each day with Fox bites, social media memes and spew collective nonsense. I'm 65 and still remember my Philosophy 101 course that taught me faulty thinking: either/or fallacies; straw men. And I see them everywhere. Newspapers are at the heart of democracy and real thinking. The founders did not believe the free press was "the enemy" of the people. Over-reliance on social media and memes rather than thinking might even produce a President who is a reality TV host.
Larry (NY)
If newspapers published objective news instead of constant editorializing they would be in a much stronger position. There’s very little fact based reporting going on anywhere in the media. Newspapers are missing an opportunity to reestablish themselves as a primary source of objective news reporting.
Tampa Hank (Palm Harbor)
I believe that newspapers can survive if they can separate the actual news (asking and answering sensory grounded questions) from a reporters inclination to op-ed the articles. NYT included. I subscribe to an assortment of newspapers and I am not going to use the term journalist for the same reason I would not call the cook at Taco Bell a chef. Being called a journalist is a privilege and an earned distinction. It is not a right that should be bestowed upon someone who has mastered the key board. The editors need to stop skewing headlines. I understand the sentiment to call out "fake news"when I read an article obfuscating a fact or featuring a misleading headline. It is incumbent on journalism to save itself.
Kev (Sundiego)
Local news seems to be the only honest news anyone can get anymore. Today “Journalism” is more story telling than reporting the real facts and information. We like to blame Trump for all the divisiveness in the country but the media is equally as culpable in all the dishonesty in the world.
C (MD)
Change or face the consequences like anyone else. We are in a capitalist economy, don't ask us to sacrifice our hard earn money to save you because of the ultimate good of civilization is in your hands. Do your job right or go down (like anyone else)
Gary Cohen (Great Neck NY)
This is why The Times commitment to digital is so important. The zTimes has made a conscious effort to move away from local to national coverage. Many local papers must shift to better digital coverage and at first consider lowering their firewall or risk becoming extinct.
Henry Porter (Middletown, Ct.)
The death of newspapers is sad. Our local paper the Hartford Courant died years ago. They don't have enough reporters and local Connecticut politics are not covered at all. So many important issues regarding the finances of this state are not reported. The paper used to have comments but they got rid of those. I guess they did not want to pay a person to monitor them. I'm happy to subscribe to the NYT's, WaPo and Boston Globe to get the news that is unavailable in a Connecticut newspaper. People also do not read the newspaper anymore. They have Netflix but refuse to pay $16 a month for a paper. Talk to people they have no clue what's going on.
Susan (Cleveland)
As a life long newspaper reader (nothing still beats the NY Times and a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning) I have watched my local newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, eliminate nearly all of the unionized journalists and replace them with contracted English majors. Now my paper is filled with suburban police reports and fluff articles on nothing of consequence. With rare exceptions, investigative reporting and holding the powers that be responsible for their actions no longer exists in Cleveland. What used to be a "news"paper has now turned into a retelling of events. We still subscribe, I think more thru force of habit, but when you can read thru the Sunday Plain Dealer in less than a half hour you wonder if it's really worth the cost. I support good investigative reporting, but find it difficult to support something a half step above a high school newspaper.
Suzylaine (Irvine, CA)
We tried. We kept our LA Times subscription for years just to support journalism. My husband just lost his job of 20 years. When the subscription runs out, we will not renew this time.
Robert (Princeton, NJ)
Journalists as heroes? Trust in media is down to 41%. Their favorabiliy rating is below that of tax collectors. You have some work to do.
Dale Irwin (KC Mo)
My wife and I have the same conversation every time our subscription to the Kansas City Star comes up for renewal. We bemoan its skeletal appearance, brought into sharper relief by the end of its Saturday publication. But, as with our fellow aging boomers, we find it hard to break our tactile addiction. Holding the news printed on paper somehow seems the proper way to take things in and digest them, at leisure. There is an orderly progression from the page one mix of local and national news through the opinion section, a like mix. And then there is still that occasional investigative series that lends an in depth view of some local, regional or statewide concern. While my online affair with the N.Y. Times takes increasingly more of my morning time, it is my only foray into the A.D.D. world of social media. No Facebook, Twitter or any other platform robs me of my time. And I wonder how healthy it is to sit here doing this. It feels like I’m back in the seventh grade, shooting for that gold star on the classroom wall book report chart, the early progenitor of the Times Pick. Well, gotta go. The paper is out front.
Doug McNeill (Chesapeake, VA)
Nature abhors a vacuum. In the relative and absolute absence of journalists to speak truth to power, the print and electronic media will be filled with the screeds of the sycophants of power and the minions of the powerful themselves. And the world will be ruled by those with the most money to lavish on politicians. The lives of black and brown people, Asians and the poor in general will continue to be sacrificed under the wheels of the juggernaut of the elite. And even the videos like the death of George Floyd will be overtaken by the rantings of white supremacists and the funded faux pundits they support. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound? If a government falls in the world and no journalist is there to report it, does anyone notice or care?
Julie Baker (Seattle)
Unless I miscalculated, or am otherwise incorrect, of the 16 columnists listed as being on staff (not guests?) four appear to be women. 16:4. And like so many, I took issue with the recent Tom Cotton editorial do-over. Possibly, in part, because I could not recall ever getting so many chances to get it wrong in my own work. So I cancelled. Then I forgave the errors, because I identify as a grownup. And then I was feeling kinda romantic, so I rekindled my relationship with The New York Times. Then I got “unfriended” over it all by people who felt compelled to condescendingly tell this old girl what to do. The nerve. And it was my last one, mid-pandemic. I was actually saving that nerve for something much more important. But oh well and enough about me. Seriously, thank you for this essay, Margaret.
Tom (Boston)
Plenty of literate citizens would write articles for free if they had a chance of publishing them in the newspaper. However, newspapers nowadays are invitation-only “platforms” for accomplishing political goals. They are their own worst enemy. The absolute negation of First Amendment freedoms by the media in general will be their ultimate undoing. Here, NYTs recounting of the apocalyptic religious lunatic fringe ad in the Tennessean is sanctioned because it furthers anti-Christian propaganda interests, subtly placing Trump in close adjacency to the ad. If there were real concern about offending Muslims the ad would be pulled with local apology and no further ado.
Woof (NY)
Econ 101 To run a good local newspaper requires money - and that dwindled as advertisement revenue shrank The same, btw, befell , to a lesser degree to local TV stations. They too shrank their staff It IS a pity as one of the best articles ever written on the change of the America economy appeared in a local newspaper. "Hemingway, Groton and the Corona typewriter" Nick Reynolds, [email protected] | Hemingway used one. Cronkite, Vonnegut and Capote used one. And they were all made here." I still use it as an example
rent or meds? (CA)
If Renkl wants people to keep reading newspapers, those newspapers, like the NYTimes, should stand up for the public good instead of being corrupt organs of failed capitalism and its handmaids. We are long past the point of moderate incremental reforms for the problems the country faces.
Pam Talley (Nashville)
Having grown up in Rochester, New York, home of Gannet, and witnessing the slow degradation of local journalism, I gave the Tennessean little respect when I first moved to Nashville in 2016. However, despite newsroom cuts, they do serve a critical role in coverage of local and state politics that the New York Times and the Washington Post will never give me. They will make hideous mistakes—as in this awful ad—but without them, we are a worse informed city and state. Thank you Margaret Renkl
James Joseph (Chicago)
I was really sad several years ago when a friend of mine whom I admired is a journalist not only in the United States but also covering Southeast Asia declared that the profession was a business model that did not work. They subsequently left reporting and went to writing for a professional journal. It was sad to consider that had become all about the money rather than the integrity and calling of the truth. 
Lane (Riverbank ca)
As a subscriber to at least 2 newspapers going on 45 years I've seen the general decline slowly evolve. Cable news such as CNN and Fox lead the way with constant breaking news headlines designed to have emotional hooks to keep the viewer hooked. Newspapers followed with titillating headlines that didn't match the actual body of the report. Opinion of the editorial page began to become evident in basic news reports whether left or right. Recently the trend has expanded to what is printed and what is omitted in a article. Rather reporting basic news facts, with this new journalism the political views of the reporter are very evident when it should not be so. I love having a real paper in hand with morning coffee and the evening beer..still pay over $1300/year for print and digital subscriptions, but I'm disgusted at seeing journalists with a obvious political agenda turning the entire paper into a reflection of the editorial page. Its worth it anymore.
Civres (Kingston NJ)
I agree with 99.99% of what appears over Margaret Renkl's byline, but I can't agree with her on this one. Newspapers made a devil's pact when they chose a business model based on advertising rather than subscriptions, and for 150 years, we've grown accustomed to underpaying for news. Exhortations like this are simply futile—people aren't going to begin paying for newspapers now after getting a better product for 25 or 50 cents for years and years. Newspapers now are a thin ghost of what they once were—badly edited, rife with misspellings and factual errors. Local news has gone the way of the local hardware store or bakery or men's shop. And all the well-meaning opinion columns won't bring them back.
Gordon Hastings (Connecticut)
Thanks for this article. Another insightful read this subject is a book titled “ Saving The Media” by Julia Cage. She proposes a possible solution.
hsg (Houghton, MI)
I tried to support our local newspaper for years even though the editorials and national columns they published consisted of illogical drivel coming from anti-intellectual and right wing networks. The local news, what there was of it, was useful and important. But after 2016, I decided it makes no sense to support a propaganda machine that uses the hook of local news to gain legitimacy.
Jay (Portsmouth, NH)
Please support local and national journalism if you can with a subscription. Considering how much we spend on streaming movies, getting take-out and other discretionary spending, paying $30-$50 per month is a bargain. I get the Sunday NY Times, Daily Wall Street Journal, Barron's weekly and my local paper. Cost is about $110/month. Well worth the investment. Your kids and grandkids will thank you for it. Journalists are the last true watchdogs of government, and they speak truth to power.
bsb (ny)
"Don’t Cancel That Newspaper Subscription News organizations make mistakes. But shunning them will only hasten the death of journalism itself." "the death of journalism itself" happened long ago. The "fourth estate", the media, is no longer there to protect the electorate and our interests. They are now there to expound there morally holistic viewpoints, destroying the moral fabric of America. Look at your paper, the NYT for example. Rather than promote harmony, understanding, inclusiveness, you more or less perpetuate divisiveness, ambiguity and partisanship. Unfortunately, the local newspaper, like The Tennessean are floundering. But "the death of journalism itself" started long ago. When you, the Fourth Estate", started concerning yourselves with PROFITS, rather than protecting the people. That was when journalism died.
Nancy Dellaria (New Bern, North Carolina)
I get home delivery of the Sunday edition of The New York Times. I was able to buy hard copy of weekday NYT in 1 of 3 places here. No one at any of those 3 places can tell my why about 4 weeks ago it became unavailable. I have called and emailed NYT and they haven't a clue either. I miss it and I'd love to know what is going on.
Rick Johnson (Newport News, VA)
This Op-Ed comes precisely one day after I had decided to cancel my subscription to my local newspaper. I've subscribed to the newspaper for many years despite long-term doubts about the integrity of its reporting. My concerns began more than a decade ago when an editor at the paper told me directly that the paper would only publish negative reports about a progressive candidate who I was working with at the time. A few years later my doubts were reinforced when the paper published only one-sided reports - without even inquiring about the facts - about a campaign I initiated on a public safety issue. And since then the paper's reporting and opinions have made it unambiguously clear that it will publish only material that won't ruffle the feathers of the local government and corporate powers-that-be; no matter how much the absence of objective, fact-based reporting might harm the public. Whatever integrity this once valuable local news source had began to dissipate when it became just another small-market property of a major publishing congomerate. And I see no reason to continue to pay for second-rate propaganda that works against the welfare of my community. I'll open my wallet again when and if a local publication will guarantee me objective, fact-based reporting backed by real integrity.
Milton Lewis (Hamilton Ontario)
This may sound like gratuitous stroking of the NYT? But I cannot imagine my starting each day without the electronic version of the NYT and my hometown paper the Hamilton Spectator. More important than ever in this home bound era. Effective and honest journalism is very important in the crucial need to end the stench of Trumpism in the USA.
The Iconoclast (Oregon)
I don't see much local fare let alone State coverage in this paper. But then why read the paper when you can go on FB and contribute to the death of facts and truth. Get your information, no, pablum spoon fed. The right wing in America has taken control of the majority of state legislators, school boards, and any other organizations with influence in communities. So why not say it: while we were asleep at the wheel the right gained control over a great deal of our political and social landscape. So much so that it lies its head off with impunity and with barely a peep from, well anywhere. To top it off publishers and journalist across the board are the core users of social media. Some of the subscription rates mentioned in this column are enough to assure the riff raff won't be reading the dailies.
manfred marcus (Bolivia)
Journalism is an arduous job, whose mantra is to inform us as best and fairly as possible. But if you expect news- folks to behave impeccably, angel-like (and I am an agnostic!), you'll be sadly frustrated. Still, however different journalist's individual thoughts may be, they will usually stick to the truth and inform us of the facts based on the reality as is, not as it ought to be (with the usual suspects, Fox Noise Trumpian sycophants, notwithstanding). But if we do no participate and stay involved and advance our own constructive criticism when due, all may be lost. Not to compare apples with oranges, but just look what happens when an unhinged and corrupt liar in-chief's spreading of disinformation,while an entire political party (G.O.P.) sits idle and fails in it's duty to correct malevolent inflexions of a so-called alternative reality to suit an abusive thug up there. In other words, let's not cancel our subscriptions to Newspapers, support them instead, as they are essential in any democracy worth it's name...if free from partisan interference.
Jon (Darien CT)
I am a Republican and long-time NY Times subscriber. I don't agree with the paper very often, but I appreciate the opportunity to understand the paper's viewpoints (news and editorials), which I read and consider carefully. Lately, however, I feel the Times has gone off the rails. The news and opinions are filled with such anger and vitriol that I can hardly read them anymore - and believe me, I have tried. The ouster of James Bennet over allowing the publication of an editorial by a U.S. Senator confirms this alarming deterioration in the Times' journalistic stature. This sad decline has been a real disappointment for me. So this week, I will decide whether to cancel my subscription to the Times, as some of my friends have done. It will be a tough call. But I agree with Ms. Renkl about the need to preserve journalism, so if I cancel, I will redirect my subscription dollars to another publication. I would encourage those of you with similar concerns to do likewise. Don't give up on journalism!
No name (earth)
even when it was healthy, the news industry paid poverty wages to entry level staff, and saved all but a few of its prime perches for the legacy offspring of legacy offspring of ivy league schools, this paper included. the voice of the people hasn't been that for decades, if ever.
Tuvw Xyz (Evanston, Illinois)
Good Grief, there have always been, are, and will be people who like newspapers, and those to whom the papers are waste. All depends on whether a paper is written by conscientious editors and reporters or it is a nest of reportasters inventing fake news.
Greg (Altadena, CA)
Journalists like to blame everyone but themselves for the decline in journalism but it’s time for them to look in the mirror. So much of what I read in the “papers” - I subscribe to three online - is so wary of offending anyone who might sue, it’s barely worth reading. Add to that lots of easy, low-cost opinion pieces that add drama without actually offering worthwhile information and the vast “coverage” of press releases as news, from restaurants to fashion and design, and contemporary newspapers offer amazingly little for the price. I do value the news that I do get from the NYT, WaPo, and the LA Times but the fact that I have to wade through so much non-news, pseudo-news, and legal department-sanctioned news weighs weighs heavy when I pay my subscription bills.
KJ (Tennessee)
I subscribe to the Tennessean but do nothing more than glance through it on my way to the puzzle page. Why bother with a paper that features some high school football team on the front page while world news of great importance is ignored? Or describes dishonest acts by our president as, "The Democrats object to ........" Yes, I also complained about that creepy, racist advertisement to management, but it wasn't a surprise. The Tennessean is a rag, and most of us know it. I've supported it anyway but have almost reached the tipping point. They're slowly shrinking or removing all the clever comics.
AlanB (Chicago)
I agree in spirit, but papers like the N YT give us few ways to express our displeasure when they eliminate reader representatives like the Public Editor. As we are finally seeing with Facebook, hitting platforms and publishers in the pocketbook is one of the few things that seems to bring about change.
ChristineMcM (Massachusetts)
"The only thing canceling your subscription to a newspaper will do is hasten the death of journalism itself..... It will leave your community with even fewer full-time reporters to tell you what local leaders were up to while you weren’t paying attention." Stark words for a stark problem. A free society can't keep freedom without the free press. A free press depends on readers willing to support it. If, in a few years, your only source of information are the media outlets supported by big money donors civic understanding and involvement will die. They say "all politics is local" but if you don't have a solid local paper, how will you know what those politics are?
Paul (Brooklyn)
The problem with many newspapers including the NY Times is that they got fat and inefficient in the heady times pre 2000 when the money was rolling in. They had as many managers as workers. The roof caved in and the NY Times and other papers panicked and working there became hazardous to your health. They have to come up with a business model that works and not go to the extremes like they did before.
Bebe Guill (Durham NC)
Bravo, Ms. Renkl. When journalism dies, democracy dies. Subscribing to your local newspaper is as important as voting. Do it.
Eric F (Connecticut)
Isn’t this what Twitter and Facebook are up against? At what point are racist and fictitious ads promoting hate, not worthy of publishing?. When news sources refuse to discontinue or even acknowledge providing false information, withholding patronage is the strongest form of disapproval in a capitalist society. “It only hurts when you hit them in the pocket”.
Jim (Long Island)
Newspapers have brought this carnage on themselves. There once was an absolute wall between the editorial and news divisions. But I fail to see it today. Newspapers are increasingly reporting the news in a slanted fashion to advance their own political agenda. As a 14 year old kid I would ride a bicycle to the store to purchase three newspapers each morning and got a fourth one delivered to my house every afternoon. Reporters during that era were excellent at "reporting" the news, not spinning it to suit their own personal political agendas. I, too, wish the newspaper industry would thrive, but I don't see it with what passes today for journalism. Get politics out of the newsroom.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
@Jim I completely agree with you. All too often, an "opinion" is woven into the news/hard facts story, further blurring the line between the two. All too often, the reporting of a news story has been modified into one "manufacturing" a news story. Somehow, I could never visualize Walter Cronkite or even my superhero Tom Brokaw doing such a thing.
Kathleen (Michigan)
@Jim Historically, newspapers were always partisan. We have always known which are which. The important thing is the news being factual. I don't see that changing today with the mainstream press. I agree that there is a problem with the online format that puts the opinion pieces on the same "page" as the news. New readers might not get the distinction. If you already know it, it's easy to see. The complaint of "liberal bias" is a right-wing talking point that has filtered into our culture. I don't buy it. I grew up in a large city that had two major newspapers, one liberal, one conservative. Both adhered to journalistic standards. I don't see that this has changed.
Eva (Boston)
@Kathleen - you wrote: "I grew up in a large city that had two major newspapers, one liberal, one conservative. Both adhered to journalistic standards. I don't see that this has changed." I beg to differ. There is absolutely no balance right now. As I got older (and smarter, I think), my views became more conservative. It's very difficult to find quality newspapers that are not ultra-liberal.
PolarDog (Midwest)
Some people protect themselves with armament. Some people isolate away from others or from uncomfortable topics. Some people create their own world by hooking themselves online all day and night. I equipment myself with knowledge and this strategy has NEVER let me down. I am lucky to have subscriptions to a local newspaper and this fabulous New York Times. I have both the electronic and paper versions of each and both have their pros and cons. I get more satisfaction, broader appreciation and greater retention from reading the hard copy than reading the same online. The knowledge is shareable: When I hand someone the hard copy of an article I think they might be interested in, along with my scribbles, it is a customized gift. It is tangible and focused, with personalized thoughts included. The paper has served other functions as well: Helps with starting the grill, serves as an improvised umbrella, insulation, paper airplane, assistance with clean up, hat, toy (paper shapes and the crossword), tool, bookmark and it is highly recyclable. The paper is ubiquitous, universal and doesn't require a power source. Everyone should read at least one. I learned how to read one from my parents and I teach my kids (both at home and at work.) I would be lost without it.
Kevin (Colorado)
If you can afford it, subscribing to both a local newspaper and a more wide ranging one (like the NY Times) is not a bad way to go to stay informed about issues in your community and well beyond. Obviously reading from even more sources is even better. I find that the people I encounter that get all their information from the commentators from one cable news channel sound ill informed and when they parrot back what they heard from the previous day's show (their peer commentators following them compliment them on their show, not their report, which gives you a hint of what sort of journalism gas been practiced). Not to mention their inflexible opinions formed from watching "the show", mostly sound like they were formed out of some cold war era Soviet Pravda article. As long as it is affordable the smarter people I know all are willing to tolerate opinions from real journalists that they might necessarily agree with or upset them temporarily, because in the long run they want the bg picture and not one frame from it.
mjbarr (Burdett, NY)
The local newspaper world is a very sad place. I subscribed to the Tennessean for 30 years, until I moved away from the Nashville area. The Tennessean began its decline when Mr. Seigenthaler gave in to Gannett and their USA Today network. Gannett also took over a number of other local area newspapers, like the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, where I lived. They had less and less local news and often gave up the first two pages to local celebrity gossip and sports.
Elsbeth (San Diego)
It would help I think if good newspapers would write stories that focus on principles of journalism. I believe the public is largely uneducated about the craft and ethics of good journalism. So pieces that explain the difference between good journalism and propaganda are needed. The difference between opinion and fact needs to be made explicit. There is nothing fake about it. A block in the masthead with basic principles might do it.
Earl'sMyFav (Durango, CO)
A couple of months ago, I decided I'd had it with the editorial page director of our local paper. He'd written another unacceptable (to me) editorial, so I cancelled my subscription. I felt guilty. I resubscribed. We must continue to support our news providers, especially our revenue-poor local papers. The consequence of not doing so will accelerate the death of our democracy.
Proud Mama (San Francisco)
My son is studying journalism in college and I couldn’t be prouder. You all are heroes indeed.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
I understand the appalling and outrageous nature of theat advertisement but editor Michael Anastasi immediately took action and terminated the sales manager. Cancelling one's subscription does not help nor benefit anyone and actually helps generate more mistrust. I would be lost if it were not for the NYTimes or Margaret Renkl's weekly column. Both provided that much needed anchor during these turbulent and stormy times more than ever. They help keep me focused, informed and provide a calming influence on various fronts and features they run. Journalists continue to be the daily heroes we need so desperately. A sincere and heartfelt thank you to them all.
Nancy (San diego)
@Marge Keller I was an advertising sales manager for a pulitzer-prize winning large daily for 10+ years, when newspapers were thriving. Before that I was responsible for vetting political ads at a state newspaper association. This incident indicates more than an ad manager problem. To fire the ad manager in an effort to gain absolution seems pretty cowardly - it smacks of scapegoating and indulging in cancel culture and compounds one mistake with another. At the newspaper, prior to publication - ads typically passed through many hands in several departments (art, pre-press), and an ad of that nature would have been sent to the publisher so that he or she could confer with the editor (and sometimes attorneys) about the content, so it's surprising that it made it to print. Most of us, regardless of our respective roles at the paper, understood the concept of journalistic integrity, the sensitivity of the news/advertising balance and for what our organization stood...that ad would have been flagged at almost every step of its journey to publication.
Kathleen (Michigan)
@Marge Keller Good journalists are heroes, there's no doubt about that! They have gone to jail for their principles, for one thing. People complain because various papers have a liberal or conservative slant/bias. When they do this they are repeating right-wing talking points. Important thing is that they report factual information. Newspapers have a partisan slant. That goes way back, perhaps to the beginning. But they report facts (WSJ-conservative, WaPo-liberal, e.g.). I can trust the facts they give me. Journalistic standards guide them. Then there are "news" outlets that don't report facts, or report lies as if they were facts. Many people don't know the difference these days between Rush Limbaugh and the New York Times. It shows the right-wing talking points have worked. If you read critically, you will likely disagree with some of any good newspaper's opinion columns, which are not the same as regular news. A good newspaper will have critical thinkers write their opinion pieces. This will help you see a side other than your own. You may be persuaded or not. The idea that airing all sides makes a stronger democracy is one that has worked, though now is being threatened/weakened by polarization. There is a good reason that freedom of the press was considered important one of the foundations of our democracy. My heartfelt gratitude to all the fearless journalists that have made our country a better place!
Jacquie (Iowa)
@Marge Keller Absolutely we need the NY Times and local newspapers and of course, NPR, to keep us anchored not only during turbulent times, but all the time.
Gary Marton (Brooklyn, NY)
I have become less and less enchanted with newspapers, which I have been reading daily for about 60 years, as they become less and less reporters of what has happened, and more and more advocates for what their editors think is politically correct. I'd pay more to get better reporting - in a way, I already do that by subscribing to The Economist.
CJ (Canada)
@Gary Marton I have more concern about right-wing entities like Sinclair Corp. dictating to local news stations and papers which "facts" to report, literally putting words in their mouths. That ain't journalism.
Mary (Taunton, Massachusetts)
You might say I am 'showing' my age (72). But I believe the weakening and destruction of newspapers along with the medical delivery system is poisonous to the country. The problems are so systemic I have no idea how the we can continue to limp along. Money is probably the root cause, which means we little citizens won't be able to stop it.
Norburt (New York, NY)
Journalists are truly essential workers, just as heroic, just as necessary to democracy as voting, the rule of law, an impartial judiciary, and freedom of speech. Thank you for this article.
Mon Ray (KS)
@Norburt Young people ages 5-25 are totally absorbed in the internet. They generally read books, newspapers and magazines only when forced to. Enrollments at journalism schools are dropping because of the sharply declining number of jobs in the field and the rise of the gig economy, in which writers of all types are paid by the article or even by the word, without benefits of course. Despite Ms. Renkl’s paean to journalism, print is moribund and unlikely to recover given the aging out of subscribers—rather like what’s happening to symphony orchestras and opera companies around the world. I plan to keep my on-line newspaper subscriptions (no inky fingers) and keep going to opera and symphony performances. However, I won’t be counting on those under age 40 or 50 to keep these anachronisms alive.
Nadia (San Francisco)
I read the article with the "deeply offensive headline" and I did not see any problems with the headline, or the article. The burning and looting of cities is not going to help solve any problems. It does the just cause a great disservice.
PatR (Massachusetts)
Let's face it, the space for traditional journalism is shrunken, and still shrinking, as the audience moves online. We have to look to the new online ways to get local news. I use an app that allows neighbours to post local news. It's hardly investigative journalism, but it's a start. I find myself supporting traditional media less and less as they become more and more partisan political campaigners. I'd like partisan politics removed from my news sources.
Kathleen (Michigan)
@PatR Papers have always been partisan, right from the start. But they don't make up facts. So what they report is supposed to be factual. When I read the Wall Street Journal, I expect it to have a conservative slant. Washington Post, liberal. But they are both valuable, since they report facts. Fox News, on the other hand, makes stuff up or reports on made up stuff as if it were factual. I'd hate to see the Neighborhood chat replace news. Or online stuff like youtube, etc. There are trolls that try to disrupt those sites, and the ones I see do it effectively. Plus, it's mostly opinion. Opinion is fine, but again, the good newspapers have good critical thinkers even the ones you don't agree with. Finally, in Michigan, a lot of local newspapers were bought up by conservatives who eventually phased them out in favor of a very weak online statewide version. It has weakened communities when they lose their newspapers. Support them!
JDK (Chicago)
We stopped donating to NPR several years ago as the majority of the reporting became solely based on identity politics. A single lens weaponized against the grand American Experiment.
Wan (Bham)
@JDK I agree totally. The old days of Robbie McNeill and Jim Lehrer are long gone. Very sad.
Norburt (New York, NY)
@JDK How sad for you and for NPR, one of the most balanced, careful forums for discussion of critical issues we have. I suspect objection to "identity politics" is the shield you use to avoid participation in any of the important conversations Americans must have if we are to make progress in our grand experiment toward the ideals of our founders (liberty, justice, and a chance to vote for all).
Wan (Bham)
Unhappily, I agree with JDK. Both NPR and public television are tiring in their unquestioning liberalism. It goes without saying that they should not receive government support. And I say this not because of their liberalism but because citizens who do not agree with either their politics or their programming should not be required to help pay for them.
DrD (ithaca, NY)
Our local paper is one of the Gannett group papers. In the last 10 or so years they kept raising the rate, and providing less actual local news--it was USA Today with a smattering of high school sports. Better local coverage came from the free local weeklies; local staff disappeared and were consolidated into the "regional" office where all the papers were printed. It's nice to try to guilt the locals into supporting the local paper. Last time they called to ask me to sign on to the web edition at some starter price I told the person on the phone that it seemed they had done an experiment--how lousy can we make the local paper before people won't read it, even if it were free. To everyone's detriment, they found out the answer.
Mark Merrill (Portland)
Sadly, real journalism became a thing of the past when so-called "journalists" abrogated their responsibility as truth seekers and truth tellers in favor of the "appearance of objectivity." The far right so loudly trumpeted the claim that MSM offered a liberal bias that soon all reporters were offering one or another version of "yes, but the other side does the same thing" as if it were true, and readers bought it. We now suffer through the outcome long ago predicted by Marshal McLuhan when he told us the medium would become the message. IN other words, they have become performative rather than informative, which casts doubt on whether or not they deserve to survive.
Suparag (Hutchinson, KS)
Local-newspaper, is local in name only, The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star are both owned by McClatchy which owns 30 such "local"newspapers. All of them carry pretty much the same content with 10% of local news thrown in for each of these markets. There is few "reporters" who do any kind of meaningful journalism in local news. As the subscription rates have dropped, they seem to penalize the few subscribers by increasing the rate/day. Am I really supporting local newspaper, or I am enabling some greedy corporation to turn profit?
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
There is a world of difference between an actual newspaper and online media, even if both are run by the same outfit. A paper is limited by the actual cost of production and distribution. Thus, the editorial process becomes extremely important, as decisions have to be made as to what is worthy of the very limited column inches available. Online, production and distribution costs are pretty much the same for one and one hundred "pages", and the ability to continually change a story is also essentially almost free. In addition, the ability to change a story has become a "necessity" in an age where people's attention span and willingness to delve deeply into an issue is pretty much that of a bumpersticker. This is true across the board. The Times did not have five Tara Reade stories running simultaneously in the print edition as it did on the online Home Page. If you want better perspective, get the hard copy of a paper. Someone who often actually knows what they are doing, an experienced editor, will have had to make the hard choices necessary in its production. Good local papers are even more important. Local issues may not be as "sexy", but they will cover what affects your daily life and need the support of the community to stay in business. I have taken to reading a number of "papers" online from around the country for perspective nationals mostly do not provide. If available, I will read multiple "papers" from the same community to get even more perspective.
Dave Wilcox (San Luis Obispo, CA)
@Steve Fankuchen I agree and would add another detriment of online versions of newspapers: a reader's inability to distinguish one section from another. Op/eds sit adjacent to hard news which is right next to a lifestyle piece. When reading an actual newspaper, these are separated by sections.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
I read "papers" from SLC, NOLA, and ABQ among others. This is from a letter to the latter" The excellently written article, "Letter writer’s diatribe a sign of polarized times", is itself a part of the problem. The incentive to send such a "letter" is magnified hugely by the perp's knowledge that doing so will guarantee him or her the power to "make the papers" and be famous. Fifteen minutes of fame has become very easy in the age of the internet. Send a disgusting, threatening letter, and suddenly you get to feel powerful, as you have "controlled" not just the recipient, but the local media and the many who will read about. And, if it is not merely your personal need for attention but that of an agenda-based group, all you have to do is broaden the object of your attack to a group, and you are likely to get national online coverage. Up the ante to shooting up a mall or house of worship, and the entire world will hear and follow your "message." Life has become more and more evaluated by "ratings" than by quality. This applies to everything from LIKES of an online comment to tweets from politicians at the highest level. It is necessary that we do not pretend bad stuff does not occur, that Patsy has not been violated. This is especially true inasmuch as the abuse of women has long been an under-reported story. However, at the same time we need to do our best to ensure we are not aggravating problems by handing a megaphone to those who are primarily looking for publicity.
Neil (Portland, OR)
@Dave Wilcox: Kudos for writing "I agree and would add another...." It's so refreshing to see succinct approbation and courtesy in a comment!
Mike James (Charlotte)
News organizations cause more harm than good these days. They also refuse to accept any criticism or reflect on why the news business is among our least trusted institutions. Do better. In the meantime, subscribing just subsidizes dishonesty and division.
Doug (London, Ontario, Canada)
@Mike James You nailed it: news organizations refuse to accept criticism. I worked for more than three decades at a local paper. I discovered, much to my surprise, that folk with whom I had worked for years would not answer a critical tweet. Their response: block the questioner. I subscribe to the NYT, the Guardian and other publications but not my local paper.
V (MA)
Beautifully written. I could not agree more. Sadly though, we are encouraged to "cancel" things that offend us or conflict with our values. Most of today's media does that to me each day.
Douglas Hayek (Rockdale Station)
@V Yes, we cancel things that no longer provide us value. We're monsters.
Lynn Marble (Rockville MD)
Well, for me it's about money. I've subscribed to the Washington Post daily home delivery for many, many years. Out of the blue, automatic charge for a few months leapt from a longstanding $40+ to $90+. Inquiring about that, I felt like I was talking to a snake oil salesperson -- lots of fancy footwork about discounts, and new(!) subscribers, etc. And the bottom line was that soon an annual subscription will be $746. Yikes. When I read the news online (in the Times), I become, if possible, even more full of anxiety and anger -- calmed only by doing the crossword puzzle. When I sit down with Post, on paper, later in the day, I become informed. Maybe that's because I'm 74 and a very paper-oriented person (I read books on paper, too). And I understand, I think, a bit about the economic woes of newspapers. But maybe, and especially with the Post, which constantly reminds us that it is owned by Jeff Bezos, we could consider not pricing the paper edition out of the reach of many loyal readers who (and I hate this expression) are senior citizens. We're already dealing with the fact that, apparently, we are expendable when it comes to covid-related "policies." Bah humbug.
Jeff Jenness (Arizona)
I agree with everything Ms. Renkl describes here, and I've subscribed to our local paper for 30 years, but I just cancelled my subscription last week. It's just grown too expensive. I strongly believe a local news source is critical to a healthy community and to our democracy. We depend on them (and you, NYT). I made deeper and deeper sacrifices over the years to continue to support them because I believe we need them. But honestly, over the years the newspaper has become a service only available to the wealthy. I know very few people anymore who subscribe, and I am concerned that the paper may be unable to fulfill its vital role when only a small fraction of the population can afford them. I worry that perhaps I have only been supporting an illusion. My image of a vital local news source, intimately connected with and interacting with the entire community, hasn’t really been true for a while. I wish I had a solution to offer, but all I really know is that I can no longer afford it. So I thanked them for a wonderful service for so many years and we parted ways.
RTC (henrico)
Thanks. That stuff needs to be said. Over and over. And, Thank heaven for The NYTs. I’ve been reading it for my whole life. If I hadn’t graduated college, I feel I might have received a college level education just from my daily readership. You could have mentioned the quality of your knowledge of things from reading newspapers, and, of course, reading in general as another reason to support and keep papers alive. Books , magazines, and newspapers.
Dwight Bobson (Washington, DC)
I subscribe to 3 newspapers at cost of $1225.34 per year. One of the 3 just raised its rates by 45% just for digital. There are limits to being supportive.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
@Dwight Bobson Just a suggestion. One of the news sources my husband subscribes to was about to increase their rates by 40%. He called them to cancel his subscription. After some "negotiating" they finally agreed upon a 10% increase of rates, which my husband felt was a fair increase.
Rusty (Sacramento)
@Marge Keller Huh. When I called to cancel my NYT subscription (effective at the end of this month, by the way), the customer service rep said, "OK." And that was that.
Nancy (San diego)
I was an advertising sales manager for a pulitzer-prize winning large daily for 10+ years, when newspapers were thriving. Before that I was responsible for vetting political ads at a state newspaper association. That ad would not have passed the "freedom of speech" test and would not have been accepted. At the newspaper, prior to publication - ads typically passed through many hands in several departments (art, pre-press), and an ad of that nature would have been sent to the publisher so that he or she could confer with the editor (and sometimes attorneys) about the content, so it's surprising that it made it to print. Most of us, regardless of our respective roles at the paper, understood the concept of journalistic integrity and for what our organization stood...that ad would have been flagged at almost every step of the way...starting in the ad department. To fire the ad manager seems a bit like scape goating and indulging in cancel culture, compounding one mistake with another. This incident indicates more than an ad manager problem.
JessiePearl (Tennessee)
"The Tennessean will never again have the power to turn an entire city toward the cause of moral justice, it’s true, but these journalists are nevertheless heroes, as the calamities of this year have proven beyond any fretful, tweet-fueled doubt. They might not have the chance to save a suicidal man from a local bridge, but they are all heroes anyway. Every last one of them." Thank you for a wonderful, telling column. Thinking back on my childhood, I remember the milk being delivered to the kitchen door in returnable/refillable glass bottles with a cardboard sealed top, in a wire basket - no plastic. This enterprise provided a good number of jobs in our community. Mom and Dad would take the cream on top for their coffee or, if we had fresh berries, we kids would have the cream. Dad would read the newspaper at the table after breakfast. This old woman has seen a lot of good babies thrown out with the bathwater and I hope newspapers can hang on. We actually need them now more than ever. Subscribe much as you can afford...
Mark Hackenstern (Hudson valley)
We at MESJ, provide a solution for newspapers and websites to preserve editorial staff while contracting out for "non-essential content." We use technology and employ a growing staff of former newspaper journalists in the US and others offshore. Providing Daily and weekly email newsletters, web editors, and content that does not need to be performed onsite, we help newspapers stick to doing what we want them to, thorough, probing, long form journalism. We are trying (and in most cases succeeding) with a new model in helping newspapers continue to serve their readership.
Practical Realities (North of LA)
Such an important point from Ms. Renkl! Newspapers are a necessary part of a democratic society. Newspapers have informed us about events that affect our lives and given us information that helps us participate in our governance and vote sensibly. They allow citizens to voice their thoughts in opinion and comment sections. I subscribe to four papers, because I want journalists to do their incredibly valuable work.
TheniD (Phoenix)
We only have the Arizona Republic here in the Phoenix area. Unlike me, it is very conservative but I still think supporting a local newspaper is important and continue to subscribe to it. There are times when feel like changing my mind but have held back. Reading your piece re-assures me to keep my subscription going. A free press is so important for our democracy to survive. I truly believe in that and hope we have the freedom to speak the truth forever. Even if it is slightly tainted at time.
Shirley Adams (Vermont)
I grew up hearing the body count from the Viet Nam war at a very young age on the television news. (I don't think this ever should have stopped.) I read the local newspaper as soon as I could read. It was the Tampa Tribune, and it was a terrible newspaper, with a few good writers. The St. Pete Times, next door, was much better. My father got a monthly newspaper from Costa Rica to read, as he went there a lot. In high school I convinced my father to also subscribe to the NYTimes. He thought it was overly liberal, but he liked the international news, which was a favorite subject for him. He was socially liberal, but financially conservative, and not a hawk at all, after being in Korea. I have fond memories of picking up half of the NYTimes Sunday Edition at 3 a.m. Sunday morning in college, then returning for the rest later in the day. My best friend and I would sit in her room and do the crossword together. I subscribed to the print edition for many years, until I was too busy in medical school. I now subscribe to the NYTimes, Washington Post (ugh mostly,) and The Atlantic online. The Atlantic is the only one I also get in print, for my husband. All that newsprint would clutter up the house terribly! The local newspaper became useless when USA Today took over. We have a monthly county-wide small newspaper. And a daily county-wide paper that's quite good. A good friend of mine was editor of a newspaper, she's so sad.
DBA (Liberty, MO)
Margaret, you are a treasure. Another fine article on a meaningful subject. I'm old and in the habit of reading the local newspaper every morning. First was a Gannett paper in upstate NY. Then the NY Times. Then the Boston Globe. Then the L.A. Times. The Wall Street Journal. Today the Kansas City Star. The Star is a shadow of its former self, but I still subscribe for home delivery. Whenever or wherever I die, this old wire service journalist and bureau manager, will hopefully have an obit in the paper.
Mon Ray (KS)
Young people ages 5-25 are totally absorbed in the internet. They generally read books, newspapers and magazines only when forced to. Enrollments at journalism schools are dropping because of the sharply declining number of jobs in the field and the rise of the gig economy, in which writers of all types are paid by the article or even by the word, without benefits of course. Despite Ms. Renkl’s paean to journalism, print is moribund and unlikely to recover given the aging out of subscribers—rather like what’s happening to symphony orchestras and opera companies around the world. I am an old guy, so I will keep my on-line newspaper subscriptions (no inky fingers) and keep going to opera and symphony performances. But I won’t be counting on those under age 40 or 50 to keep these anachronisms alive.
Vivian Salazar (Amarillo, Texas)
Ms. Renkl: This Texas former journalist (25 years at our local newspaper) appreciates this article more than most people would know. During those years, I moved from reporter to Lifestyles Editor, and I loved every step along the way. I covered the school beat, the courts, county commission meetings, and wrote all sorts of stories. My city tends toward the conservative, but there has been a movement toward unification of the Black, White and Hispanic communities during this time of Covid 19. We still have a newspaper here, but I have no idea for how long it can go on with the constant criticism from our national "leaders." I hope everyone who reads your column understands the truth of what you are saying.
EB (Portland,OR)
There's nothing better than a paper newspaper. Growing up with the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, then subscribing an adult to the Philadelphia Inquirer, then the Washington Post, then the Los Angeles Times (my favorite) has enabled me to keep up with the world in a tactile way. There is nothing more valuable than a good newspaper, and nothing sadder than a thin and "meatless" one.
txpacotaco (Austin, TX)
Multiple people in my family have written for newspapers large and small. I have a great deal of respect for local reporting, and the loss of it is evident right now in the rather large city (Austin) where I live. I agree with Ms. Renkl -- to a point: if the local paper does not disseminate meaningful information, subscribing does nothing to further the cause of journalism. But there is a social tie-in here that has an enormous impact on society in general: unfettered targeted advertising of every type of product and idea. That a full page ad of this type appeared in the Tennesean is horrifying -- that it is likely all over Facebook is a shoulder shrug. Why unsubscribe to the newspaper when you should actually cancel your Facebook and Twitter accounts, instead? I would love to see legislation in this country that prohibits the mass distribution of advertising through electronic means; the risk to society, otherwise, is too great.
BTP (Texas)
I taught journalism at the college level for 19 years and was a reporter in Europe and the Middle East for a time. I have no regrets but if I were teaching today I would advise my students to get a double major, a Plan B, because they may need it. Gone are the days when you could work on a weekly or small daily and work your way up to a big city paper. Many small papers either don’t exist or have been downsized. Many big city dailies are now a shadow of their former selves and are owned by media chains that care more about the bottom line than good reporting and writing. Some of my talented former students gave newspaper journalism a good try and are happy they did but saw no future in it and are doing other things.
Suparag (Hutchinson, KS)
I would love to support local journalism, but the local newspaper, The Wichita Eagle charges $322 for 13 weeks of paper which amounts to $1288/year for the print edition ($3.50/day), which is an ridiculous amount for a paper that mostly wire news with a small amount of local news thrown in. I subscribe to NY Times, Washington Post and Politico , all for less than the digital subscription of the Wichita Eagle. In short, they are priced so ridiculously they are pricing themselves out of business.
Jeff Maloney (Kansas City)
I'm in the same boat. The Kansas City Star (sister paper to the Wichita Eagle) is similarly priced.I subscribe electronically to it, as well as the NYT and Washington Post. As to the Star, its business model seems to be as an an avenue to reach the elderly, often with ads for very dubious products. It's a sad state of affairs.
Suparag (Hutchinson, KS)
Local-newspaper, is local in name only, The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star are both owned by McClatchy which owns 30 "local"newspapers. All of them carry pretty much the same content with 10% of local news thrown in for different markets. There is few "reporters" who do any kind of meaningful journalism in local news. As the subscirption rates have dropped, they seem to penalize the few subscribers by increasing the rate/day. Am I really supporting local newspaper, or I am enabling some greedy corporation to turn profit?
Henry Porter (Middletown, Ct.)
@Suparag , Call and cancel and they will lower the price big time. The people papers should value the most they treat like dirt.
SDG (brooklyn)
Where are we headed? One could make an (unconvincing) argument that Facebook and Twitter are legitimate alternatives to newspapers, and, as they have a tiny carbon footprint, are preferable. As Facebook and Twitter assert they have no responsibility to filter for truth what they print, if/when newspapers disappear, we are left without legitimate news. Can one base a democracy on an electorate that has no access to legitimate news? Sounds like the chaos that some of Trump's supporters called for, even before Trump became a candidate. We have a truly monumental choice to make later this year.
Michele (Cleveland OH)
The devaluing of local news is going on in every city and town. In my own city Advance Media set about to bust the newspaper guild and finally succeeded completely. The Cleveland Plain Dealer has been destroyed - what is there in print is not the newspaper as we knew it and definitely not worth supporting. A great deal of the problem is the rise of social media, an arena with no professional ethics. The arch villain Facebook leads the way. Anyone who doesn't get it needs to re-watch the Aaron Sorkin film and be reminded what kind of individual is wielding so much power.
LilaScout (Florida)
I disagree, I subscribe to 4 publications one being my small town, you and the WP will Go if Trump Is elected again bc You don’t have any other headlines but his name. I am grateful you are keeping track of him and complicit Mitch but there is so much else to concentrate on. That is why I will quit subscribing and move to positive news publications that take a world wide view.
drkathi (Boulder CO)
I have recently increased by subscriptions in order to support alternatives to "news" on Facebook which I don't read. Although The Daily Camera here in Boulder is a small paper with mostly news wire stories, I subscribe any way to support my community. I also read The Atlantic, The New Yorker, the NYT, the Washington Post and Politico but all my subscriptions are digital to lower my carbon footprint--with the exception of the New Yorker-- I like the print copy for reading in the bathtub!
Greg (Under the oaks, NH)
Thank you as ever, Margaret, for hewing to what binds us in caring for others, and what informs us in citizenship. I find your observations and reflections to be inspiring.
Bridgman (Devon, Pa.)
When I was a senior in high school, (late Seventies) the entire class got a copy of the New York Times every weekday morning thanks to a history teacher who saw value in it. (Thanks, Mr. Brownlow!) Every school should do that and have an item in the paper be the topic of at least one class a week. The internet is no substitute; there was something about carrying a broadsheet around that made us feel like adults aware of and involved in current events.
Dave HARTLEY (Ocala, Fl.)
Print newspapers are going, as much as I hate it. But digital subscriptions allow me to have access to several papers for the price of my local paper (and I have that as well).
Victor Wong (Ottawa, ON)
That "journalism" has lost so many "practitioners" says more about the state of its practice than the economics of running legacy media. People are increasingly using social media for their news sources, because it provides the information they need (or *think* they need) in a tidy, easy-to-consume package. Legacy media have failed, in most part, to adapt their product to this, mainly because the pressures of the "immediate" news cycle force them to regurgitate their own opinion as "news." I don't need to read reporters condemn President Trump because he drinks two-handed; I need to know what items are on his legislative agenda and how far (or stalled) they've become. I don't need to see personalities, I need to see the work. I don't want the media to play the player, I want them to play the ball. When "journalists" learn to step back, get context, do more research, and keep their reflex opinions out of their copy, then they'll produce a journalism that people can wholeheartedly support.
@Victor Wong Thank you, Victor!
Fatima Blunt (Republic of California)
It's not that news organizations make mistakes, it's that they chose and manipulate stories to fit their paradigm. I care about unemployment but don't care about the demise of publications like this which pushed out journalists like Chris Hedges while giving free advertising for decades to the current president.
PMJ (Philadelphia)
I recall going with my wife to the Dublin Horse Show in August of 1969. Immediately behind us was an older local couple. Over the course of the several hours of the horse show, young boys would weave through the grandstand selling updated afternoon additions of the local newspaper. The older woman a row back would gesture to the sales boy each time one passed so she could buy the latest edition. During the horse show, a man in the stands suffered a heart attack and died; his body was carried away in plain sight to the crowd. A bit later, on the turf, a horse was injured and had to be put down; a tent was erected around the horse for privacy, to shield the death from the eyes in the stands. All the while, the old woman never looked up from her newspaper, even with some pieces of news breaking right there around her. Those hours at the horse show provided one demonstration after another of the priorities people might have. But the strongest one was about the power of up-to-the-moment journalism and the bond between the local people of a town and their local print newspaper. I am not ready to mourn its demise.
Frank (Chula Vista, CA)
When I was twelve, over 65 years, ago, I sold the Philadelphia Bulletin on the beach in Ocean City New Jersey yelling: "Hey, get your two star sports final Bulletin!" Seems this article is echoing that refrain for local newspapers. However, times have changed. Many papers aree owned and controlled by the Murdocks of the world and, as a result, are not as "local" as they seem. Also, TV and internet news is readily available. Online subscriptions to excellent papers like he NY Times and Washington Post, as well as local and international ones are less expensive. Yet, nothing beats that old experience of holding and reading the "two star sports final Bulletin" in your hands.
Dave HARTLEY (Ocala, Fl.)
I was a paperboy as well, and worked my way through college at a news agency which handled delivery of most papers in my town. Later, my first job 1000 miles away was District Supervisor for adult carriers in a rural area of Florida. I miss them, but things change.
Bridgman (Devon, Pa.)
@Frank The Evening Bulletin: Nearly everybody read it.
lion2019 (Illinois)
I may be a lone voice in thee comments but, I don't mourn the loss of all those reporters the last few years. In fact, I know some peers who would consider it a good start. I have worked in high level public sector positions for thirty years. I have noticed the unevenness of local reporting and reporters. It mostly comes down to ambition and the evolving times. I am wary of reporters who are social media conscious and refer to their "brand." You're not a source to be cultivated but a tool for them. I've learned to ask, "what's my role in your story." I also know there are excellent young reporters just trying to do their jobs and are often covering multiple beats and, therefore, can't do in-depth work. I wish those journalists a long career.
Maggie (Maine)
We are fortunate up here in Eastern Maine to have The Bangor Daily News for our local news. I believe they do a difficult job well with limited resources. There are many papers that are shadows of their former selves and we, the reading public, need to support those that struggle on and fight the good fight. For our own good and the good of our Republic.
RA LA (Los Angeles,CA.)
The local paper in our bucolic Los Angeles suburb is a throwback to that time when America was perceived to be great. Most of these suburban communities were established with the purpose of creating safe spaces for mostly white residents fleeing the perceived threat of the other. In different moments of our nation's history, "the other" might have been any combination of brown, black or catholic American. Governance coalesced around law and order not to mention the advancement of causes and propositions benefiting property owners at the expense of renters. Yes, these quaint newspapers have done some good work but, by and large, these bastions of insularity have done too little too late.
Corrie (Alabama)
What a beautiful tribute. Thank you, Ms. Renkl. So much of the decline of journalism is due to Facebook. If Mark Zuckerburg weren’t purely after money, he’d have foreseen what his product would do to journalism. But he’s more interested in carving the Internet into profitable little niche markets where people are targeted with disinformation through his product. The easiest way to save journalism is to stop using Facebook and educate others about the disinformation flowing freely on it. In Alabama, most people use Facebook for news. Do they subscribe to local papers? Why should they, when they can get free “news” on Facebook. We are here in this moment due to an epic failure to educate young people in two subjects — Civics and Media literacy — coupled with the unethical practices of social media giants.
Maggie (Maine)
@Corrie Agree wholeheartedly. I am not on Facebook so was amazed to find that people use it as a source of news. A co-worker spouted off a “ fact” she had read on Facebook, which sounded way off to me. With a little research on line using multiple reliable sources I was able to show her that her “friend” on Facebook was incorrect. It is incredible that people accept whatever they read from whomever has a Facebook page. Incredible and very scary.
Corrie (Alabama)
@Maggie I’m glad you were able to educate your friend. I find that most people simply don’t want to do the work of fact checking. They think well, if it’s in my feed, it must be tailored to me. They don’t stop to consider that they brought a bag of biases with them to Facebook, and that Facebook is making a ton of money by sending them “news” stories that confirm these preexisting biases. Facebook is our biggest problem and I hope that Biden will do what Obama should have done in 2010 when we were all in an uproar over healthcare. Trump hasn’t done it because Trump is benefited by the disinformation. It’s way past time to regulate the social media giants. They’ve done enough damage to our national fabric.
jc (ny)
@Corrie Facebook hasn't helped the news business, but the writing was on the wall before Facebook became popular. The internet in general, in my opinion, and not any specific website, has brought down many local newspapers. Craigslist and similar sites made classified ads free, which starved papers of that revenue stream. Aggregators like Google News, Huffington Post, Drudge Report, etc. made an abundance of content "free." And there's no need to check weather, sports scores/schedules, stock prices, or TV schedules with everything online. I do agree that Google and Facebook are claiming a huge portion of the advertising revenue available, which certainly hasn't helped local/regional news, but even if both sites were abolished tomorrow the trend would be intact.
Joe (NYC)
This article leaves out an important element, which is odd given its subject: subscriptions are not the primary source of revenue for newspapers, advertising is. One could argue that subscription numbers drive advertising rates but that's indirect and still avoids the problem: newspapers have lost advertising dollars. The culprits are pretty obvious: Google and Facebook and more generally the Internet. I don't think any rejoinder to the public about the value of local news is going to help, frankly. People are busy and were never quite that committed to the local rag anyhow. There is an answer to this and it is pretty simple: Force Facebook, Twitter, Google, et al and other online platforms to follow the same rules as newspapers. Right now, these online platforms can publish anything without any ill consequences at all - they have an exemption and go to pains to say they are not "media" companies. Of course they are media companies. This has allowed them to print all sorts of nonsense and attract more eyeballs than your local newspaper will ever get. If Facebook, Twitter, Google et al had to be responsible for their content, they'd have to have lots and lots of people reviewing it and editing it. Voila: there's your journalism jobs back. Facebook launched an initiative to support journalism but it's basically just crumbs, little more than a PR campaign to avoid the obvious solution: Force them to play by responsible rules for posting content.
JD Athey (Oregon)
@Joe Agreed. Facebook, Google, etc. should be regulated as media companies. It will never happen with Conservatives in charge.
Viv (.)
@Joe Facebook does not post content. Their users do. This is a key difference. To say otherwise is like refusing to acknowledge that there's any difference between an article written by a paid journalist and the comments left by readers.
Hyman Rosen (New York City)
@Joe What in the world are you talking about? You sound like you get your information from Facebook! There are no "rules" for newspapers. Newspapers can print anything they want.
Terry (Delaware)
My memory of Sunday mornings is of getting the Daily News and the NY Times, sometimes even the Herald Tribune, then going next door to the bakery, where my mother was getting rolls or bagels and then going home and having breakfast with everything from funnies to News of the Week in Review and the Book Review and Times Magazine. It was an education in itself for my high school years and I always loved it. All that and great bagels too!
No name (earth)
the tennessean has been dead for a long time; it just doesn't know it. the depopulation of its staff and its presentation as a collection of national wire service stories and sports mixed with a thin layer of local stories about churches has been a failing recipe for a long, long time.
BPinLA (Los Angeles)
Poor products fail. Good products that don't stay fresh and relevant eventually fail. I hope we're in a phase where formerly good news products are failing but eventually will find their way in the digital world. Or...will be replaced by better products that did not have to fight through the sludge of old thinking ie: "but that's the way we've always done it." It's also worth remembering in the "old days" local TV stations were obligated by regulation to carry local news.
Silverbeast (Toronto)
I recently cancelled my subscription to the NYT. It seems I’m not the only one, or this article wouldn’t have been written. I can’t speak for others but here is my reason. The power of words is paramount in influencing beliefs and behaviours, and while the ferreting and illumination of facts and events, and the expression of opinions is critical to a free society, much of what I read these days is, I feel propaganda, designed to reinforce my already held beliefs. When a contrary opinion is expressed, such as the recent Cotton Op-Ed piece, the masses of opposite-minded believers immediately rail against it, for it offends their sensibilities. While understandable, this highlights the problem of modern journalism: it is a profit-driven enterprise which thrives on polarization and discord. It therefore has lost touch with what I believe to be the primary function of news - to not only support but also challenge the the values of the western world, and to stimulate discussion and action for the betterment of all. When my subscription rate was recently hiked without notice, it confirmed theses feelings. I was happy to support the press, but am now even happier to cultivate more independent thought. I plan to use the extra time not spent reading to actually make a difference, in whatever small way I can.
Adrian (San Francisco)
@Silverbeast Couldn't agree more. I am cancelling my NYTimes subscription too. The journalists increasingly believe that forcing their one-sided opinions down the throats of informed readers is the way to change the system. Instead it is the path to being permanently irrelevant to the moderates and independents who decide the election.
Wan (Bham)
@Silverbeast You should remember that there are many readers who agree with you about the Tom Cotton piece and the way the Times bungled its handling of it. Of particular concern to me is that I, as a passionate environmentalist, believe that the more than doubling of our country’s population within the past few decades ( from 150 to over 320 million) has had and is having a catastrophic effect on our natural world. The Times has had at least a couple of articles about the loss of bird and insect populations. Habitats are decreasing by the day. Aquifers in the West are being depleted. Congestion is a fact and everywhere one sees woodlands being turned into housing developments. This population increase has been driven since the 1970’s by immigration. Human population growth, worldwide, but also in our own country, is the single most important fact of our age, but the Times will never publish any article or op-eds questioning the wisdom of large scale immigration. I believe that this is because support for unrestricted immigration is hugely popular with the Times readership, and also with its editorial staff. This reflects the same cowardice which the Times often shows regarding policies which are not compatible with its own narrow liberalism. A great shame and an insult to the memory of Voltaire.
@Silverbeast how are you able to write this comment without being a subscriber ? asking for myself
Charles (New York, NY)
The devaluing of local news has been pervasive for a long time. When I was in college pre-Internet I was the only weirdo on campus who read the local newspaper. For everyone else, TV was their only source of news—mostly CNN, which didn’t cover anything locally, of course. I thought I was doing myself good by reading the paper every day, but then a professor told me she thought devoting attention to local news was a waste of one’s brainpower.
rsdeutsch (louisville)
@Charles I, too, read the local paper in college (1970's) and was happy the library carried my hometown Courier-Journal/Louisville Times. Gannet destroyed the papers. Oh, your professor was wrong. What poor advice.
PMJ (Philadelphia)
@Charles I hope you switched out of that professor's course. What decent teacher would disparage a practice like yours? In effect, you should have been in each other's role.
Richard (College Park, MD)
@Charles That's a typical professorial view. She was doubtless wasting her brainpower on global issues when she might have had an impact locally.
Thomas E Martini (Milwaukee Wis)
i read the paper on line, via digital subscription. This option was a lot cheaper than subscribing to a hard copy paper delivered to my door. I would suggest that readers chose this option. This reduces our carbon footprint.
JoanP (Chicago)
@Thomas E Martini - Nah. I find that I read the online paper differently than I read the print edition. With online reading, people click on catchy headlines. When I read the print edition, my peripheral vision catches interesting content. On top of that, I have found that often there are articles in the print edition that are not visible in the onine edition. So I read both.
Michael Spencer (Naples Fl)
For nearly a decade I wrote a column for the Naples Daily News. I was not alone; several others contributed to what was a local paper, all subject to an occasionally fierce editor. My subjects were neither political nor controversial. Popular and widely read, my readers sent dozens of emails every week. That’s what local papers do: interact with the public they serve. When USA Today came to town local columns were unceremoniously dumped without warning. The paper is a shadow of its former fighting glory. It’s no longer a local paper. There is no shame for subscribers who walk away.
Miss Ley (New York)
Some of our finest authors on a global basis began their vocational career in journalism and traveled. A first encounter for this American was when John Crosby of The International Herald Tribune came to visit in Paris. It was the only newspaper my mother read at the time as an expatriate, and years later when in transit to another dimension, she always had a copy of The Figaro by her side at the residence for the elderly. Back to America - 1980-1997: The New York Times, The WSJ, The Washington Post, The Daily News and New York Post, The London Financial Times and Observer. This was a daily staple in the banking office where I worked as a coffee-pourer, and my boss was quick to find out that I was not reading the News, followed by his admonition that one can not believe everything that is in The Paper. A paradox. Today, friends share on occasion what they are reading in the Press. We cannot afford to subscribe to more than one newspaper, and there is a trade exchange of The New York Times (my Baby :), The Washington Post ('Austria') and The WSJ ('Ireland'). Local News has become paramount in the Countryside, and an appeal to keep our subscription has come in. It is excellent, the tone moderated, the contributors from our town make a difference, and the majority of us are holding on to it for guiding us. But for how long and few journalists are able to keep us informed on a volunteer-basis. Thank you, Ms. Renkl, for giving us joy, with sorrowful notes.
David K. (Knoxville, TN)
The authors suggestion not to cancel our subscription to the local paper based on one bad ad comes too late. As a Tennessee resident, I observed the deterioration of the Knoxville News Sentinel, once it was acquired by Gannett and became part of the USA TODAY network in 2016. We held out for a couple years but finally grew disgusted with the irrelevance and bias that had consumed the paper. We canceled our subscription not because of one bad ad but because the paper became a regular source of irritation. As a result, we have no source for local news anymore but, alas, posts of varying reliability by locals residents on social media!
Fourmyle27 (Connecticut)
My English teacher used to tell us that the reader must bring something to the content, and not merely be a passive observer. It takes effort and concentration to read a newspaper. Years ago, I commuted to work on the NYC subways, and there was a special art to folding the pages of the NYT and the WSJ so that they could be read while standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other people. Newspapers taught me critical thinking skills, since it takes time and effort to read in-depth analyses vs. the "Breaking News" sound bites that make up our communication media these days.
Alan C Gregory (Mountain Home, Idaho)
I earned my journalism degree at Idaho State U,graduating in 1975. My first gig as a reporter (the pay was 84 bucks a week) was in the farming town of Gooding, Idaho. I went on to a career in the Air Force was also a journalist, for 17 years, at a Pennsylvania daily. Lots of good people along the way, many of them good, solid writers, all craftsmen with words. The ongoing demise of the daily paper (afternoon papers are already long gone), is both sad and a statement about American communities. Holding powers to account is the most important thing in journalism. Yet, the "he said, she said" writing style is a dead-end to public good. By the way, NPR, the president has supporters, not "many supporters."
Scott Florida (Central Florida)
My local paper is owned by Gatehouse Media, and it too is a shadow of its former self. I still subscribe for the local content, advice columns, obituaries and the comics. The cost of the paper is ever increasing for the print subscription, and it is currently over $450 a year. Since the start of the pandemic, I started my online subscription to the NYT, and I enjoy the exposure to the best journalism and life in the “Big Apple.” I may add the Washington Post too. Journalism is constantly being attacked by Trump, so I figure that it must be preserved and supported. Knowledge is key.
mptpab (ny)
@Scott Florida I subscribed to the Times when I was a liberal now I am a conservative. I have no intention of canceling. The paper has much to offer and i do not always disagree with the columnists or editorials. It is probably good to read things with which we do not agree.
Maryland Chris (Bethesda, MD)
Excellent column. I subscribe to the NYT, Boston Globe, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal (great newspaper as long as you stay away from the op-ed page). Most of my news comes from daily papers, and even if I disagree with an article or opinion piece, I will keep my subscriptions. Papers make mistakes, but when they fold up, we all lose. We don't cancel our marriages when our spouses say the wrong thing at the wrong time, so let's extend this same logic to our newspapers.
Seatant (New York, NY)
@Maryland Chris The statement that the WSJ is a great paper as long as you stay away from the Op Ed page is part of the problem, highlighted by the NYT reaction to the Cotton Op-Ed. You may not agree with the opinions expressed, but wouldn't you be interested in what the opposite side has to say?
Gary Marton (Brooklyn, NY)
@Maryland Chris What's wrong with the WSJ's op-ed age? Bret Stephens, now of the NYT, came from there, and he still wears the same stripes.
Mary (Murrells Inlet, SC)
@Maryland Chris I subscribe to NYT, WaPo, WSJ, local Sun News. The WaPo says it best: "Democracy dies in Darkness" Love Tom Toles and Ann Telnaes political cartoons as well.
Barbara (USA)
But when national newspapers seem more bent upon shaping public opinion with propaganda--of whatever political stripe--than real reporting, I don't blame people for canceling. Local news reports more about what is happening locally. On occasion they pick up the AP national articles. That's working more and more for more people.
Anthony (Western Kansas)
Like all humans, journalists will make mistakes, but they are the key to the US remaining a place of liberty (not the conservative "liberty" that involves anger and hate toward anyone that is not WASP). I grew up in a journalistic household and I have lived through the downfall of local journalism, starting en masse in the early 1990s as local Bay Area papers shut down and major corporations, like Gannett, took over. Much of the story of the destruction of local journalism coincides with the destruction of our society through Reagan's deregulation in the 1980s. As corporations have eaten up competitors, and the federal government has turned a blind eye, small businesses and local papers, once the bastions of local culture and true freedom, have been destroyed. Major news companies care about profits and dividends, like other major businesses, not local news.
Demetroula (Cornwall, UK)
If anything marks me as a 60+ boomer, it's the joy I feel in holding and reading a newspaper, and doing the crossword in pen. But I've loved newspapers since I was a child growing up in Chicago; I was always the one in our family who brought in the Trib from the front stoop every morning. My fourth-grade teacher would make us look up articles and bring them to class. Do teachers even do that anymore? I began reading the NYTimes when I moved to New York in my 20s. At one point my husband and I subscribed to the Times, the Boston Globe, the WSJournal and the Financial Times -- all four would slam onto our front step each morning (I don't know how many trees that is!). And now that we live in the UK, we subscribe to the Guardian and the FT, in addition to a digital subscription to the NYTimes, feeling it's our obligation to support responsible journalism. I feel sorry for the younger generations who only get their news through their phones and have never experienced the love and smell of real newsprint.
Alice (Louisville KY)
@Demetroula And the ink on their hands.
Some of this history would have been lovely context in the stories about the ad . . . thanks.
Alice (Louisville KY)
I grew up with Huntley and Brinkley news and the evening newspaper. Watching my parents read the newspaper was an early motivator for my learning to read. I give a nod to the plethora of news sources today. However, newspapers will always be in my heart and mind. Ms. Renkl need not worry. I am not going to break up with newspapers. With the onslaught on freedom of the press and the virtriol against this newspaper in particular it is vital we support the print media at this time. Thank You for your work Ms. Renkl and to others in the newspaper industry.
Bob Sprague (Arlington, Mass.)
Excellent column. I read it with ambivalence. As the Gannett-owned Arlington Advocate, a weekly in my town, declines, that provides an opportunity for, the online site I have published here since 2006. As a member of LION, a group supporting local news sites, I know that there are moderate success stories about local online news nationwide. Still, I subscribe to my town's ever-shrinking weekly as well as The Boston Globe and N.Y. Times. I love the smell of newsprint in the morning.
Debra Merryweather (Syracuse NY)
I like my morning paper, which now arrives on my doorstep in print only on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Often, much of what appears on paper is stuff I've already read. I mourn "the news" in general. The 24/7 online and TV news cycle has cut off the air supply to sidebar reporting and context.
SE (Calgary)
Thank you for the reminder as to what we can loose in journalism. Like so mane industries, journalism has had to take desperate measures to remain relevant, sadly social media has taken a front seat in the majority of people lives. I am one who did leave the New York Times then returned after several days of deliberation. What bothers me is in the way news take sides. You are either Left or Right, Liberal or Conservative, Republicans or Democrat. My understanding of good journalism is showing the facts as best as possible while remaining unbiased. This sadly has stopped as it is more important to compete against the new media models by jumping in with both feet and accumulating more likes. I hope to see good journalism remain relevant, the loss shouldn’t happen, yet if the only way to keep going is to sensationalize a story or take an extreme view the facts, people and history will be the ones that lose. Journalism will be lost as it become fog in the sameness of our social media world.
EM (Nebraska)
I'd be interested to see an estimate of what a subscription would cost if the local news were a) of a high standard, b) entirely digital, c) entirely ad-free, and d) subscribed to by most of the residents in its coverage area.
Steve (Boston, MA)
I have subscriptions with the NYT and the WaPo. I also I had a subscription with the WSJ. It was important for me to see contrast. But after 30+ years, I finally hit a point where the contrast became too virulent. It's okay to disagree on a matter of opinion, but it's not okay to be uncivil.
Bill Brasky (USA)
@Steve I cancelled my WSJ subscription when they hired Karl Rove as a columnist.
Carol (North Carolina)
I live in Raleigh, NC, and am also mourning the decline and diminishment of a once-great progressive, Southern newspaper: The Raleigh News and Observer. In our case, it's McClatchy (rather than Gannett) that has been gutting the newsroom. As a newspaper lover, I am still a subscriber but am very worried about the state of journalism in my hometown, which is also the state capital. What are we going to do about the demise of state capital newspapers? I shudder when I contemplate what is NOT being covered in the halls of our state legislature right now. I can only say that we have to support independent journalism, where we can find it. Subscribe to your local newspaper, but also support those independent online news sources, which are uncovering the stories mainline news cannot afford to investigate. It's time to pay more than we do for news.
Robert Martin (Austin, TX)
My wife and I enjoyed reading the Austin American Statesman for over a decade. But when they presented us with an invoice for $750, we dropped the subscription. We are now completely comfortable with their tablet version for less than $100 annually.
Julie (Arkansas)
Good for you to support the great journalism of The Statesman. I lived in Austin for many years, and always subscribed. Now I live in Northwest Arkansas, where I support local journalism by subscribing and reading news on my iPad.
Bill Pfeiffer (Brandon, FL)
I’m lucky enough to live in a town with a decent local newspaper: this Tampa Bay Times. I subscribe to it, and the electronic editions of NY Times and WaPo. I think it’s important to support local print news, even if I no longer read the print editions. Our local paper does a good job covering local and state but I know cutbacks have recently affected some of that coverage. Part of your civic duty as a US citizen is to keep well informed, theses subscriptions are a way to participate in keeping that journalism alive.
Jessica (Green State)
Having moved from Santa Monica to a small town in Tennessee, I am delighted when Margaret Renkl's column shows up in my online edition of the NYT. It's refreshing to have a perspective beyond that of the self-important coastal regions.
SGK (Austin Area)
At age 12 -- 60 years ago! -- I delivered the Casper Wyo newspaper through gorgeous summers and frigid winters I'll never forget (35 below on Sundays at 4 a.m.). Subscribers paid $1.90 a month. Twenty miles outside of Austin, we subscribe to a much pricier daily paper, but happy to pay. And we take a local paper as well. And I read a few online national papers daily. I fear the paper-and-ink on our breakfast tables may be headed for the archives only, unless something creative is done. I loathe the sensational tabloids that supermarkets carry -- trees shouldn't be touched for them. But digital formats are only going to challenge print increasingly. At the same time -- books have overcome the challenge. Print papers may have to reinvent their size, format, advertising approach, marketing, etc. Appeals to nostalgia work only for the choir already singing their praises -- and paper carriers like me are fading away like the ink itself. Meanwhile -- we read the morning paper and work the crossword and appreciate the hard work of every journalist out there.
George (Seatle, WA)
@SGK Here, here, same for me at the Orange County Register! I'd deliver the papers in the AM before I'd go to school. I miss those days! Today I get the digital versions of NYT, WP & Seattle Times!
Joe Giardullo (Marbletown)
There are publications that used to be real newspapers, but have, long ago, become fish-wrapping. My local newspaper, The Kingston Daily Freeman, is a perfect example. It now runs primarily canned articles from The Center Square and virtually unedited press releases from politicians and government.
JD (San Francisco)
I would get a subscription and read a newspaper like I used to if the Newspapers in this country actually would see to it that it got delivered. As they have had competition, one would think that the quality of service would go up. But, in reality it has gone way down. I live in the middle of San Francisco. I cannot get the NY Times or the SF Chronicle to actually see to it that my newspaper is placed ON my front porch. Not on the stairs leading down to the street or on the sidewalk. When the Newspapers used to use actual Paperboys and Papergirls to deliver the paper ended up where you could get at it and not have it walk away most days. Now they have adults in cars who toss it anyplace they want and think that is delivered. I don't want to pay to give my paper away most days. I don't want to pay to have to put on shoes and go down into the cold with my bad back in 5 AM to get the paper off the side walk or see that it has walked. Newpapers need to deliver in all aspects of the product. Until then, we will read it free of there are ways to do that online. Oh, by the way, my first regular year around job was as a paperboy who rode seven road miles every morning delivering the newspaper and making sure it got where it was supposed to.
Amy (Bronx)
I have a digital only subscription to The NY Times for the same reason. It never got to my front door before 8am. I am a teacher and was already at school by then and reading the paper in the evening has never held the same appeal. I like getting up early and reading the paper with my coffee. Which I do now-reading the “paper” on my IPad.
Mary (Murrells Inlet, SC)
@Amy Yes, and I also subscribe and listen to my local NPR station, WUOM out of U of Michigan. I actually moved to South Carolina 5 years ago and still listen to the Michigan station, as the Southern version of NPR just isn't as edgy (left leaning) and is more agriculturally rooted. The Southern accent is distracting as well for this Yankee.
JimH (NC)
Newspapers are all on life support. The main product they sell is not timely enough to matter. 24-hour national news, 4 hours of local news, and the internet make papers all but irrelevant. This leaves papers with opinion columns and there is not much substance there.
dlb (washington, d.c.)
@JimH There is not enough news to cover a 24/7, that's why many internet papers read like tabloids today or why the same news gets repeated over and over again. Reporting cycles and news matter, but the longer the cycle the less important the news used to fill empty digital spaces.
Mary (Murrells Inlet, SC)
@dlb I agree about the 24/7, repeat, repeat cycle. And the local news about dogs and water parks and raceway openings, and all the other local drivel, is not news, just filler, of no interest whatsoever to me.
Paris Spleen (Left Bank)
I have one newspaper subscription—to the Times—and even with so much good content it offers, I consider it a vice to read it too often. The problem, for me, is that the basic model—writing about what’s “new” or timely daily events—fragments my vision of our social, political, and economic challenges at the expense of the long term trends or systemic issues from which the daily “news” bubbles up. Online or or print, it doesn’t matter: it’s the same model. I have always wished newspapers would lay out more context and history. I’ve always wished they would cover our representatives at the local, state, and national levels in a way that makes it easier to see their donors and voting records regularly. In short, I’ve always wanted a newspaper that focuses less on reporting the “news” and more on educating citizens. The categories that structure the news—world, US, politics, etc.—also contributes to the problem, and should be reformulated for more effective citizen education. The information graphics designers, in an alternative “newspaper,” would be more central to the newspaper’s mission. I love the Times. It stands head and shoulders above the competition, but the institutional model it follows keeps it from being all that it could be.
GM (Universe)
Here, here! Civil society requires objective journalism. Sadly, the next generation relies on Facebook and Instagram to get their news. The former uses algorithms to spoon feed their users posts with manipulative videos. The latter provides "news" in the form of pictures of friends and family. And so the dumbing down of American citizens is accelerating at a lightening pace. Try having an intelligent conversation about a serious topic with 20 or 30 somethings. You can see their minds jumping from image to image they've recently seen. And when they say something it's a scripted repeat of things they've "heard somewhere". Their source:"It was in my Facebook feed'. There is no evidence of a capacity to discern, to reason, to employ logic or to make an informed judgement. Too many of them distrust all media -- by which they mean "establishment" journals like the New York Times or any news outlet that was around before they were born. Meanwhile, they passively soak in nonsense fed to them by online platforms where "information" is packaged not by caring and skilled journalists intent on presenting truth, but by sinister groups seeking to manipulate to advance their cause -- all encouraged and supported by the platform seeking many clicks that translates into $$ for the corporate owners. Maybe Unilever pulling its ads from Facebook last Friday will start to turn the tide. But we have a long way to getting the next generation to subscribe to good sources of news.
Jennifer M (Charlotte)
You make an excellent point. Might I suggest you sponsor a 20 or 30-something in your life by subscribing them to the NYT as a gift? I did this for my own son, though he is very well versed on how to parse the news. Nonetheless, he appreciates it immensely, and we often share articles and discuss. After a few years of this, I know it's a habit he will never lose. And the cost is small, but the rewards are huge for all of us. Spread the news!
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Kansas)
We subscribe, and pay, for five daily Newspapers, all online. Some might consider that excessive, but I consider it an investment. An investment fairness, the Public Good, and that ever elusive “ Truth “. Yes, some days I can’t spare the time to even skim all those sources. But when I can, they are waiting for me. It’s an Insurance Policy, and a small Investment. Thank You, Margaret.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
@Phyliss Dalmatian I don't find subscribing and paying for 5 daily newspapers as excessive but rather crucial, especially these days. I am truly alarmed at how little so many people actually read, albeit of course unless one actually counts various social media platforms as reading substantial and quality sources. So few people READ period! I think you are perfect my dear. Our household is like yours with our numerous subscriptions to various news sites, both in this country and abroad.
JVM (Binghamton, NY)
My local paper has scant but valuable regional reporting, mostly now generic national LCDenominator fill. I pay for it yet, and will. The Times on line is becoming less a daily and more a daily shifting weekly, whilst the New Yorker, Nation, and other weeklies are fresh and timely every day on line! I pay for them all, and will. They all support reporting, writing, information, and ideas of worth. I hope they always will.
blgreenie (Lawrenceville NJ)
Kudos to the Times for including Ms. Renkl among its writers. She writes from Tennessee. There is a need for those who live on the East Coast, the home territory of the Times, to be better informed about Tennessee and its region. Next, there is a need for improved coverage of other regions too in the Times. We live in a highly fragmented nation and the nature of life in other regions often seems foreign to those living elsewhere. That must be a significant contributor to our paralyzing political polarization. Having lived in both places, I know that the nature of life in the East seems foreign to those living in Tennessee. If the Times considers itself a national newspaper, it should more broadly cover the nation.
EB (Portland,OR)
@blgreenie I agree - that the NYT is myopic in its national coverage. Not everything noteworthy to the nation happens in New York, and it would help the paper if its reporters didn't all live in the area. That's why columns such as those of Ms. Renkl radiate like a fresh morning breeze. Her perspective is a welcome one.
Pika (Oregon)
I miss my local newspapers. We went from three covering distinct rural communities in this region to a conglomerate of one. Merging was the only way to survive. Gone are the journalists dedicated to a particular community. Some were rehired as free lancers. The handful of staff that remain are stretched thin. Our ability to know about community events and governance has taken a hit. Key tools that promote community connection and civic engagement are gone.
Schimsa (The Southeast)
I do not know the history of local newspapers but I’m willing to bet they came into existence as the result of the public need for information. The public need for information on a larger geographic area is satisfied today by media other than print. Local news too has a digital subscription available in most places today. The need for local news and info is as it was 100s of years ago when it was delivered by printed flyers and sheets. The need continues but the supplied responses are weaker than pre-internet examples. And, yet, our local lives are of great importance as visually evident by the unexamined approvals for land uses and development. It is our responsibility as citizens to remain well informed of local dynamics and pending decisions in order to continue public awareness of and response to local issues impacting the entire local community. I don’t have a solution but I agree there is a sad problem for current and prospective journalists and readers alike. The problem is rooted in the overarching economic demands for financial profit in every human activity.
RjW (Chicago)
The fourth estate is being starved of funds in an environment where critical thinking is in critical condition. We need a return to critical thinking. The rest will follow.
PKP (Pacific Northwest)
@RjW Good luck with that..
RjW (Chicago)
Thanks @PKP We’ll need some beaucoup chance toute suite.
Kate (Maine)
I absolutely love your column. As a person who lives far from New York, I am used to not seeing my reality reflected in the New York Times, and your writing reminds me that, yes, there's another point of view out there. And I'm not talking about a political point of view! I value the Times for its national stories, but local journalism is key in this time where viral infections, though all connected, are local stories and require local response. I have never been so grateful for our small-town paper. It's not winning any big prizes, but it continues to deliver news that is relevant to our community.
Schimsa (The Southeast)
@Kate Point in case: when I asked a man 8 feet from masked me in line at Lowe’s in Clover, SC, why he wasn’t wearing a mask he responded with “There’s no virus here.” And shrugged. His eyes grew larger when I told him that York County has increasing cases and about 1,000 in total with 12 deaths. I know this information from my local paper owned by McClatchy, now in bankruptcy. Being a New York metro transplant in deep Dixiecrat territory I am often irritated by the reporting but recognize that I am the pebble in my neighbors’ shoes. The paper diligently reflects its audience and I am well informed on local issues. I imagine the few reporters/editors/advertising sales folks (all ~3) must live starved but devoted. Their devotion and work product are appreciated, at least by my husband and me. Yesterday I encountered more people without masks than with, including cashiers, by about 1 mask in 20 faces. With infection growth gaining momentum and with zero local, state, or federal response appropriate to the pandemic threat to life, earnings, and wellbeing....I’m a prisoner of the elected ignoramuses. Our local newspaper reports accurately on the outcomes of life as directed by the unseeing. Save McClatchy! (hint to the NYT)
JC (Pennsylvania)
Online subscriptions are great, no messy paper or ink, nothing left on the floor outside your door. I do take magazines in hard copy and enjoy them except that in recent years the ink smell has gotten worse so I will soon reconsider those.
Bruce Rozenblit (Kansas City, MO)
Local journalism is very expensive to produce and also very necessary. It should be subsidized, like agriculture is subsidized. Journalism is food for the mind which is just as important for a democracy as food for the body. Investment funds have decimated local papers. They threw the baby out with the bathwater by skimming all the cash they can off of those subscriptions. A newspaper needs to be replenished and fed, not starved. We are gong to have to create publicly supported local news. We must form a Public Printing Network to fund local journalism. Local NPR radio stations would be a great place to start and build out from there.
SashaD (hicksville)
@Bruce Rozenblit I was thinking something similar when I saw your comment. Each community should have a fund to support a newspaper. That fund should be protected from raiding for other 'needs' and from influence.
Donna Lee (Alaska)
@Bruce Rozenblit Check out INN (The Institute for Non-Profit News). It is funding small newspapers across the nation with its NEWSMATCH program. I'm on the board of a tiny non-profit newspaper in Santa Cruz County, AZ (The Patagonia Regional Times. also has an online presence ) and we belong to INN. It's tremendously supportive of growing small newspapers in the nation with the understanding that local press is vital to our democracy.
Mark (Washington DC)
@Bruce Rozenblit media of any form should never be subsidized. Politics immediately come into play and content eventually becomes compromised.
P.A. (Mass)
I'm a retired editor of weekly newspapers who also wrote for a daily paper. They were great until they lost ads after 2008 and then were taken over by GateHouse Media. I have no respect, only disdain for GateHouse Media. I'm just glad I was able to retire. I love newspapers and have subscribed to the New York Times since I was in my 20s. I always loved the local paper. My parents would often get several area papers every day. But I can't see how we will ever get back to that unless companies like GateHouse are not allowed to buy local papers and destroy them.
AstridOnThePrairie (Nebraska)
@P.A. Did you work for The Tab, under Russell Pergament? I used to read it when I lived in Boston in the 1980s. Even Pergament has taken a powder and left the (now-defunct) Metro. I trace the demise of weeklies like the Brookline (Ma) Chronicle-Citizen to Russell.
Paul Bern (Seattle)
@P.A. I'm confused. How did GateHouse "destroy" the papers? What would have happened without them buying the paper? How would the paper magically have survived when so many others didn't?
Demosthenes (Chicago)
I subscribed to the Chicago Tribune for 20 years. In 2016 it endorsed the libertarian Gary Johnson for president. This came despite its consistent reporting that Trump was unfit for office and Gary Johnson had no chance of winning. When Trump won I cancelled my Tribune subscription. I’ve never regretted it.
Marla (Geneva, IL)
@Demosthenes, I agree with you regarding the Tribune's editorials. I think that the Republicans on the editorial board skew them too far to the right. When I finished reading the editorials I used to wonder what the writers were drinking or smoking to reach their conclusion. In spite of that, I have continued to subscribe because of the other writers that I liked. The paper is a shadow of what it used to be when I was a child and even 20 years ago.
two cents (Chicago)
@Demosthenes I beat you to he punch. I cancelled my subscription to the Chicago Tribune when it endorsed W for a second term. Since its early founding it always endorsed Republicans, regardless of how inept they were. However, it had better 'other' content than the Sun Times. It is now a shell of a paper and will almost certainly disappear soon.
David S. (Illinois)
The Tribune is a shadow of its former self, I fear. And with private equity having control over it, that won’t get better. I am more in line with the Trib’s editorial board than the Times, but I pay for a full subscription to the latter and won’t even give a dollar for a trial to the former. It’s not worth saving at this point, and neither is the Sun-Times.
Travelers (High On A Remote Desert Mountain)
We moved to Arizona recently. This week we subscribed to the Arizona Republic---for 10 minutes. After paying for the subscription we found we had also signed up for a bunch of other stuff, such as ads on our devices. We have an ad blocker. We don't object to ads in general, and would gladly get them (if we were told ahead of time, which we weren't), but so many of them are demeaning to women. Partially clothed women, where body parts are obvious. That offends both of us, and we won't participate in it. "Cookies" (what a weird term) so the paper can read our personal computer and "tailor" ads to us. We don't want that. Just like we don't want them to hire people to peek in our windows and see how we spend our time, and then tailor ads to what they see. It's not the world we want. So, we tried. Partly for the reasons Renkl mentions. Local papers are important.
goodlead (San Diego)
@Travelers Aren't you able to unsubscribe from those unwanted "extras"?
@Travelers good post . .and you're right - Cookies (what a weird term).
Travelers (High On A Remote Desert Mountain)
@goodlead Nope. We tried, talked to customer service. We could not.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
When I went to college so many years ago, I wanted to major in journalism. Back then, the only tools available other than a pad of paper and a pen was the trusted old Royal manual typewriter. I was the editor of the school newspaper which sounded like a big. I always had visions of being the female version of Walter Cronkite. But instead of writing about injustices, my heart was being pulled towards actually doing something about it which is one of the reasons I became a social worker. I felt the need to work and help the little ones who didn't have a voice against their brutal, hurtful and abusive parents. I never regretted changing gears and leaving the journalism world for I learned a great deal, especially how to investigate and write from a different perspective. Funny, but I can picture myself doing something similar of what John Seigenthaler did. He and all other journalists did and do make not just a difference every day, but a much NEEDED difference. Thank you Ms. Renkl for another wonderful article.
TheraP (Midwest)
@Marge Keller But now, thanks to the Times, Marge, you’ve become an Opinion Writer in your later years! And thanks to your social work career you’re in compassionate tune with events and people. Blessings upon you, my dear.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
@TheraP Awww, your words always make me smile. Thanks for such a kind comment. Best to you during these unsettling times.
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Kansas)
@Marge Keller School Newspaper-I KNEW it. I was the acknowledged star Writer. What a coincidence, Not. Cheers, girlfriend. Going out to do Yard work. 100 degree forecast next few Days. Kansas.
I hope that the Tennessean survives. But two things give me pause. One is that that, although this has changed greatly in recent years, news organizations, politicians and ordinary people in the U.S. have often recognized and condemned bigotry and racism toward some minority groups but not others. The Tennessean's stances against anti Black racism but willingness to run a virulently Islamophobic ad seems to have been just another example of this. Two, is that the Tennessean's apologies for the racist ad, the donation, and other actions would likely not have happened in the way they did but for the subscription cancellations and threat of ad boycotts.
JerryV (NYC)
Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro’ the channel of the public papers, & to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people. The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them."
Sean Ferrier (Liverpool)
JerryV, Jefferson’s point is well taken. And it looks like with the pandemic crisis in the last few months, many places are now indeed in a state somewhat closer to “newspapers without a government” than the either way around.
Jim Linnane (Bar Harbor)
@JerryV It should be noted that the man you quote owned slaves and fathered the children of an under-age girl. Should we look to that man as a guide to the role of the press in our society?
Mon Ray (KS)
@JerryV Jefferson was white and owned slaves. That means we shouldn’t read or listen to a word he said.
Michael Skadden (Houston, Texas)
I now have an online subscription with the NYT. I used to get the paper edition, and in fact preferred it -I'm 66 and still like the feel of a newspaper and, for that matter, of real paper books- but the NYT couldn't deliver it. Too many days I would get no paper; then I would get two and sometimes three days' worth and it just wasn't any fun anymore. Doing the crossword online just isn't the same as doing it with a pen. Anyway, I realize I'm a dinosaur and won't be around that long; I do hope newspapers survive me. By the way, I also read The Guardian and El Diario de Jerez (Spain) daily, and frequently take a look at L'Est Republicain (Nancy, France) and the Berlin Morgenpost. My life would be much poorer without them: it's still the best way to get news in depth. And also to skip over anything truly awful:-)
Marla (Geneva, IL)
@Michael Skadden, I also have an on line subscription to the NYT and I subscribe to the Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune. I prefer the print versions of newspapers, but the cost of having a print subscription to the NYT would be too expensive. As for the NYT crosswords, I print it out and do it at night as part of my going to bed routine.
dove (kingston n.j.)
The precipitous cancelling of a subscription in response to a single, offensive add reflects what has become of both America's collective attention span as well as its appetite for thorough investigative reporting. Haven't we been trained to react and not reflect on the aspects of any story? The challenge, as I see it, is the restoration of commitment to information, something that deserves thoughtful processing. I'm hardly hopeful as I observe a world, head down, taking direction from the phone.
Somebody (Somewhere)
@dove Look what type of ad led to the cancellations. Offensive material to those who are right of center rarely cause controversy or cancellations. Anything that offends the left (and I admit this sounds like it was pretty offensive - though the article never says who bought the ad, which I find interesting) will always lead to boycotts, cancellations, etc. Tell me, which side of the political divide is sounding like 1984?
Anil Kumar (Michigan)
I agree that newspapers play an important role for a community and should be supported by the community through their subscriptions. I wonder if we have an opportunity to engage local universities. Journalism programs and their students need access to experiential opportunities, which local newspapers can provide. Universities can partner with local newspapers to create a sustainable financial model that benefits both.
Enlynn Rock (Virginia)
@Anil Kumar It’s an idea. I used to really enjoy some of the college radio stations in the glory days of the 70’s and 80’s. Do they still exist?
BigRedFan (Pa)
@Enlynn Rock Yes, they do exist and most are available via streaming through your browser of choice.
lion2019 (Illinois)
@Anil Kumar I believe in one of the Michigan college towns the local paper survived by using high school and college interns for the bulk of their reporting.
Barb Davis (NoVA)
Can't wait to get up in the early morning to sit with a cup of coffee and read the newspapers. Your column is what gets me out of bed on Mondays. Thank you and the many great journalists who get me to thinking about things.
Guy Sterling (Newark, NJ)
What about deep-pocketed owners who refuse to fund their newspapers to a level that would keep news coverage respectable but choose instead to funnel their money into other undertakings geared strictly toward improving their bottom lines? Do they get a pass in the making of this national calamity?
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
@Guy Sterling Then there are billionaires like Bezos and Slim who buy good papers and 'improve' them with detectable slants in news as well as editorials. The rich, who always think everyone wants to know just what they think, can use their newspapers to stick a thumb in the eye of anyone with who doesn't like their politics. Better a Bezos and Slim with their tedious opinions than Faux news at least.
Cousy (New England)
@Guy Sterling Yes! The Boston Globe is case in point.
cherrylog754 (Atlanta,GA)
Thank you Margaret, the media and particularly our local papers are one of the tenets of our Democracy. Without them, and their in-depth reporting our voices die. I subscribe to the NYTimes, the Washington Post, and just recently the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC). My only regret was why I held off waiting so long to support the AJC, it's one of the best.
See also