The choice here in this part of Greece, if one wants an English language newspaper, is not a great one: The Daily Mail or the New York Times. The Mrs was planning a rest day while Joshua and I went on another road trip so bought both. On my return I tucked in.
The Daily Mail was, as ever, jam packed with articles about how immigrants give you cancer, social workers have caused house prices to collapse and how the late Princess Diana was a modern day saint. After about five minutes I could stand it no more and so to the NY Times which is America's Guardian, only worse. Every story is about the evils of Donald Trump expect when it it is about global warming which, as you know, is being made worse by Donald Trump.
But I write in praise of the NY Times not as an organ of truth for it is fake news to the core but as a commercial enterprise. The NYT has recognised what British papers have been slow to note, that news is a commodity which is available for free everywhere. Therefore the idea of a "newspaper" is redundant. Why should folks pay for a 24 hour old rehash of what they have watched on TV or on the web already? Of course they are ever more reluctant to do so and, hence, the traditional newspaper is doomed.
What folks will pay for is opinion or analysis which adds value to their lives or which, they perceive adds value. And thus the Times is packed with opinion articles - flagged up as such - from the front page to the back. Folks will pay for that.
The Times goes a step further in that it makes its news pieces so utterly slanted that they are almost opinion too. Take this front page article on North Korea and the POTUS. I quote:
The world's attention has understandably focused on Mt Trump's saber rattling threats against Mr Kim - most dramatically, his promise to rain "fire and fury" on North Korea if Mr Kim fired ballistic missiles at US territory"
Now there was I thinking that the UN Security Council was this week discussing how North Korea had fired a missile over Japan and that this is where the world's attention was focused. But no, for a US liberal this is all down to evil Mr Trump. The phrase sabre rattling does indeed refer to someone who threatens military action. but it is invariably used in the context of aggressive, proactive action. Trump's "fire and fury" comment was a clear warning that IF the US was attacked it would retaliate in a most brutal manner.
Sabre rattling is a term that is used in a negative sense, it is a bad thing. But until now it has not been used to describe someone discussing how they would react IF they were attacked. The NY Times ignores convention so to present Trump in a bad light. Would it really prefer it if POTUS had said "if North Korea fires missiles on US territory we will all go on a march, light candles, say we stand together and that we will not allow this to change our lives." maybe the NY Times has not learned the lessons of the 1930s when dealing with rogue states run by crackpots. Thankfully Mr Trump has.
So even the "news" in the New York Times is really fake news, it is at best opinion. In making this paper a news free zone the Times is being smart in a commercial sense. There is a ready audience of rich liberals on the US coasts who are happy to read a broadsheet that they perceive as adding value since its opinion pieces and fake news/disguised opinion articles confirm their own particular world view. As they sip fair trade semi skinned organic lattes in coffee bars on the Upper East Side or in Park Slope the metropolitan elite can agree with each other that the dreadful Trump's sabre rattling is causing tensions out East. They know its true because the Times said it was true in a "news" piece and stated that the whole world knew it was true. okay it is not true but the liberal readers of the NYT do not want to hear that. So by publishing as it dies the NY Times ensures its survival.
But it cannot argue that the NY Times is in any way a trusted source of real news, what used to be termed a newspaper. Subjective opinion and fake news in a broadsheet is something else, i am just not sure what the term should be. A Viewspaper perhaps?