The New York Times Is Edited by Twitter and That Is Just How Its Subscribers Want It

As tribal as the most obscure online blog — just a lot less original

A report in Life magazine, celebrating the New York Times’ centennial in 1851, said the Gray Lady had earned its name by ‘way of acknowledging its traditional special marks: starch conservatism and circumspection’. In short, it was boring but reliable, as all journalism probably should be.

How times have changed. Far from a place of conservatism or circumspection, the NYT has become a place of orthodoxy, circumspect not in its journalistic rigour, but in its need to be de rigueur.

This much was made clear by the explosive resignation of Bari Weiss [deemed “neocon cancel queen” by The Grayzone], staff editor and writer at the NYT, last week. She announced her departure in the most ‘publish and be damned’ way possible.

In her letter, which all should read, she warned of a ‘new McCarthyism’ that has seized the paper, wherein editorial decisions are not based on providing a balanced view of the world, but instead on broadcasting a certain preordained and accepted one.

‘Twitter is not on the masthead of the New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor’, is the line that has received the most attention. And rightly so. Clearly, that cesspit has held sway over decisions at the newspaper recently – not least in the decision to fire the opinion editor a few weeks back after tweeters (some of them NYT staff) took offence at an op-ed he had commissioned.

But as much as I agree with Weiss, there is another set of editors involved here: NYT subscribers. As the old advertising model of funding news effectively collapsed in wake of the internet, news outlets began to opt for a more subscription-based one, and it may now be having a corrosive impact.

As with most things, this new model is a double-edged sword. Yes, it has kept certain publications afloat as the world went digital, but it has also birthed a form of editorial accountability wherein editorial decisions can now be directly tracked — in real time — against a loss of subscribers and revenue.

This immediacy means that editors have effectively become the punchbags of their subscribers, who now feel a greater sense of ownership over their chosen outlet. And this has decreased the wriggle room for differing opinions. As Weiss notes in her letter, now ‘stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences’.

This is not my insight, but that of Kyle Pope, publisher at the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), and Gabriel Snyder, CJR’s contributing editor – both of whom I spoke to for a piece I wrote last year.

This was in the wake of the NYT’s calamitous ‘Trump Urges Unity vs Racism’ headline, covered here by Snyder. Many prominent tweeters took it to be endorsing Trump’s ‘narrative’ that he ‘opposes racial discrimination, and the NYT experienced ‘a higher volume of cancellations’ as a result.

In short, the paper’s subscribers thought the headline did not go far enough in being critical of the POTUS. The headline was subsequently edited to something more subscriber-friendly.

Pope told me that, ‘Historically, there was a wall between advertising and editorial which was sophisticated and built up over decades’. But, in a subscription-based landscape, there has been little tradition of this kind to draw direction from.

I piggyback on Weiss’s resignation only to highlight this problem. It can take a while to recognise the consequences of new developments in journalism, often to our own detriment. It remains unclear how the subscription-based model will influence what comes next. This is something we should be thinking about as it becomes ever more the norm.

Fortunately, in the Gray Lady, we have our guinea pig. With almost six million subscribers, by far the most in the world, what happens there will likely act as a litmus test of what’s to come next. If Weiss’s resignation letter is anything to go by, it doesn’t look good. After all, we have always known that too many cooks spoil the broth. Let’s see what several million can do.

Source: Spiked

  1. tim says

    It is run by Jews.

    Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that,
    they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel,”
    “In Israel, death has no dominion over them… With gentiles, it will
    be like any person – they need to die, but [God] will give them
    longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their
    money. This is his servant… That’s why he gets a long life, to work
    well for this Jew. Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that,
    they have no place in the world; only to serve the People of Israel.
    Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will
    reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat,” Rabbi Ovadia Yosef October
    18, 2010 during his weekly Saturday night sermon on the laws
    regarding the actions non-Jews are permitted to perform on Shabbat.
    The crowd responded with laughter.

    880,000 people, including
    many elected and unelected US policy makers as well as influential
    world leaders, attended the funeral of Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
    “Our race is the Master Race. We are divine gods
    on this planet. We are as different from the inferior races as they
    are from insects. In fact, compared to our race, other races are
    beasts and animals, cattle at best. Other races are considered as
    human excrement. Our destiny is to rule over the inferior races. Our
    earthly kingdom will be ruled by our leader with a rod of iron. The
    masses will lick our feet and serve us as our slaves.” Menaheim Begin,
    6th Prime Minister of Israel. speech to the Knesset (24 June 1982),
    quoted in “Begin and the ‘Beasts” Amnon Kapeliouk, in The New
    Statesman (25 June 1982);Quotes like this are actually numerous!

    1. disqus_3BrONUAJno says

      Is the New York Times a tape loop too?

  2. Brion Adair says

    If that is their subscribers world wide then I think the toilet paper of record is in real trouble especially when a talk by Brian Rose with David Icke on London Real can get millions of views in a few minutes before it’s cancelled by the imperious censors at screw youtube.

    I know quite a few subscribe to the rag because it’s epitomizes Mockingbird Corporate Propaganda at its worst.

  3. cechas vodobenikov says

    all USA media is government supervised fake news…amerikans r too insecure and stupid to want the truth. US media provides the lies their peasants demand….their media provides them the illusions that they require

  4. ke4ram says

    New York Slimes…. what else can you say?

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