Thursday, October 06, 2005

The New York Whines (Again)

I'm on the Bearfoot Hookers' email list. Their bass player, a good friend of mine by the name of Jon Tonge (who bought my amp when I left Athens for the Coast) sent this out to me and many of the other ne'er-do-wells that end up on that mailing list. Despite his on-stage (and off stage, to be sure) antics, he's one of the smartest cats I know, and he had this to say on a subject I love to report on. I agree with everything in the letter, though I have only edited two words.

I hope to give this the most publicity popular.

Even though he decries the "blogs written by idiots" out here, I still thought we'd enjoy (and get a good chuckle) out of the read.

Dear New York Times,

I can't believe the audacity of you greedy thumbsuckers. I have been a loyal and constant reader of your newspaper for five years now (I'm 25). In college, I could afford a discounted, 5-day-a-week subscription and enjoyed it immensely. I have a box full of clips from your paper of stories that I found well-written, extremely informative or otherwise off the beaten path. I've defended your snotty aloofness in debates with friends and colleagues both public and private. I feel like I've gained a great deal of knowledge from both your print and electronic pages that otherwise would have been lost.

But no more. Now, I suddenly have to join the Times Select club to reap the benefits of what used to be an open Web site? I'm reminded of a Tom Petty lyric. "As we celebrate mediocrity/all the boys upstairs want to see/ how much you'll pay for what you used to get for free."

I'm a registered member of your site. I've given you my personal information (which I normally am loathe to do) and I've taken your silly surveys when you've emailed them to me. Is the ad revenue generated from my constant presence on your site no longer enough? Do you really need my $7.95 a month to get by? I know you've been canning people left and right lately - reporters included - but don't take it out on me. (Which, by the way, is the absolute pinnacle of idiocy if you hope to keep me around but I guess that's not a big priority for you anymore. By all means, lessen your news-gathering ability by 700 employees in a year and try to tell me the "quality" of the paper won't suffer. How many investigative reporters do you have these days? Anyone can read the wire. I used to count on you guys for in-depth reporting. Do you think your readers are on crack?)

I actually used to send people to your site. Online debates and message boards. I would constantly post links to your stories and make people read them before I would continue a debate. Actively driving people to your Web site so you can get your dirty ad money to keep this "public service" going. Also, the last two years when I had cable TV, I intentionally bought the package with the freaking New York Times chanel on it. What a sucker I was.

So now I can't read Friedman anymore. That's fantastic. Thanks a lot. Actually, I can't read any of your columnists anymore. Super. I also noticed that in your little Top 5 Emailed Articles suddenly none of your columnists are on there. Two of the five are Op/Ed Contributors, which you don't charge for. What a coincidence. It used to be Friedman, Dowd and Krugman like clockwork, but now half the world won't have a clue what they're saying. That's a great way to just take your columnists (and by extension yourselves) out of the public dialogue. Thank God I got Safire until the end. He was a gem.

I am poor, by the way. I mean really poor. In debt from college and this year will be the first that I'll be above the poverty line since I graduated. But poor didn't have to translate into dumb and uninformed thanks to that fourth branch of democracy, the press. Anyone could log on and read. The great equalizer, knowledge. But I won't always be poor, you hacks. I always thought that I would know I was making it if I could afford the Times subscription at my house - the fat Sunday paper included. Get that, the Post, the Journal, the AJC (if I'm still in the South) and a local. Boy, I'd be in hog heaven then. I don't like to support outright greed and hoarding of knowledge for the wealthy, though. Columbia University kicked me out of their library once because I wasn't a student there and I've never forgotten it. Knowledge isn't something you have a right to disseminate to your wealthy cronies alone. And you wonder why you're insulated and out of touch with America? You just keep making it a paper for the rich and the rich alone and you'll just keep slipping farther and farther away from relevance with the masses.

Why don't you just deliver only to country clubs? Everyone knows that's where the real opinion makers live. You could have a set of zip codes and if a person doesn't live in one of the wealthier zip codes across the country, then tough s***, "No Times for you." You could probably charge a fortune for subscriptions. Once the rotten greed-heads in the country knew it was exclusively for them, they'd pay anything. So much for the press doing anything for the good of the people. I guess we've been away from that for a while, though.

I stuck up for you bastards all along and this is how you repay me. I'm not good enough for the f****** Gray Lady anymore. Don't have enough money. Story of my life. I even stuck up for you during the last elections - WHEN IT WAS CLEAR EVEN TO ME THAT YOUR NEWS COVERAGE WAS SLIGHTLY PRO-KERRY! I tried to explain it away because I don't really believe there is a bias in the press on either side, but it was there, all right. Not as much as most would say, but a presence nonetheless. And when I say press I mean newspapers because that's the only thing that's worth a damn anymore. Or ever was, really. Anything on TV is and always will be sleazy entertainment, pure and simple. But you just keep pushing people toward blogs written by idiots and overtly partisan publications and these loud-mouth talking heads on the box. That'll help.

So, in closing, you guys can kiss my ass from now on. This will definitely help you in the long run. Alienating the poor, the young who crave information and don't have money but one day will. Our memories tend to be exceptionally long. This is the very crowd you should be courting and you're taking the best of your content and hiding it away until we can afford it and then you think that we'll ever come back to you when we can? Well, the whole damn place can burn in hell for all I care. The press may not be biased, but I can't deny the elitism anymore. I used to buy a print copy once or twice a week - even though I can't afford it - because it's comforting and real. I loved it. But you won't ever see it on my doorstep now, you bastards.

You're getting farther and farther away from what the press is supposed to be about and you don't even realize it. May Sulzberger, Jr. get a paper cut as he's wiping his ass with hundred-dollar bills. I never thought I would have to do this. Disillusionment comes hard for everybody, I guess. You worthless whores. I'm actually about to tear up, here. It's like I'm breaking up with my girlfriend. Damn you greedy sons of bitches.

Yours in sincere disgust,

Jonathan Tonge


Anonymous said...

I don't think all blogs are written by idiots - just most. Yours would be excluded from that categorization.


Patrick Armstrong said...

See folks, the best way to silence the critics is to publish them!