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Why I’m Canceling My NYT Subscription
A perspective from Chris Mayfield
I have been a subscriber to the New York Times for most of my adult life. But the past two months have brought home to me what I already saw: the Times’s coverage of US foreign policy is inexcusably accommodating to Biden administration preferences.
What the NYT gives readers in its coverage of the Israeli war on Gaza after the brutal Hamas attack is often a deliberate blurring of crucial events—through omission, vague wording, or use of the passive voice. For example, a headline (10-13-23) about Israeli bombardment of a crowded refugee camp “Photos show an Explosion has Caused Heavy Damage in Gaza’s Jabaliya Neighborhood.” An explosion?? Maybe an earthquake? In fact, it was a 2,000-pound bomb, supplied by the United States as part of its “ironclad” support of the Israeli offensive.
Currently, moreover, the Times has shifted away from tracking the Gaza war’s progress with important daily metrics and events. We see this clearly n contrasted to coverage in the British Guardian and the Qatari al-Jazeera, two publications widely read in the rest of the world. In both the Guardian and al-Jazeera, the Gaza war is still front and center. Al-Jazeera always includes detailed live updates, with current death tolls, locations of current attacks, and notable statements by important figures from all sides. the Guardian usually has this war at the top of its page visually, and almost always includes detailed live updates. both sites this past weekend featured extensive excerpts from veteran UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths’ report, in which he asserts that Gaza is now “ uninhabitable,” with residents “facing the highest level of food insecurity ever recorded.”
In the Times, however, the Gaza war usually is no longer visually front and center. Although its technical team continues to issue occasional pieces of valuable analysis (such as about Israel’s frequent use of 2,000-pound bombs) one often has to search for live updates, and these usually now focus more on internal Israeli political divisions than on deaths or attacks in Gaza. The Times did not mention Griffiths’ report, and has not issued updated death tolls in Gaza or the West Bank for several days. The Times ran only a short initial piece on the 84-page lawsuit South Africa has brought in the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of genocide and requesting that the court issue an order for a ceasefire. Recently, the Times has included memorable human interest stories: one by renowned poet Masan Abu Toha on his arrest and detention by Israeli soldiers, and another on the difficulties Gazans face even to give their dead a decent burial. But these are personal narratives—not ongoing reports on crucial current events and conditions.
These differences in coverage and focus matter. US taxpayers are funding the war on Gaza as well as the war in Ukraine, and Biden is asking for $105 billion more to arm both Israel and Ukraine. As our nation’s “paper of record,” what the Times reports or chooses to omit has direct, real-world consequences tied to its outsized prestige and influence. Overall, the Times has chosen to accommodate, rather than examine, the Biden administration’s controversial support of Israel’s war on Gaza civilians.
In this fateful election year of 2024, I choose not to give my measly educator-rate financial support to the Times. I’ll continue to read al-Jazeera and the Guardian, as well as stellar
independent news media such as Democracy Now and Commondreams. I believe I will feel liberated rather than hampered by my disengagement from the Times.
“Viewpoints” on Chapelboro is a recurring series of community-submitted opinion columns. All thoughts, ideas, opinions and expressions in this series are those of the author, and do not reflect the work or reporting of 97.9 The Hill and Chapelboro.com.