Globe subscription: six-sevenths gone

While the feedback I got from my earlier question about canceling our subscription to the Globe was largely negative (here’s a sample from Universal Hub: “If you enjoy reading the paper, keep your subscription. A newspaper dropped on your front stoop is a wonderful thing to wake up to each morning. That and coffee of course.” OTOH, my Facebook network was more positive: “Do it! Stop propping up dinosaurs”)

So, we’re canceling our daily subscription but keeping the Sunday paper (for now). As another Facebook friend who did the same thing put it, “I did the wimpy thing and went down to Sunday only.” Top reasons:

  1. While it’s really great to feel like part of the local community by knowing what’s going on, etc., I probably spend 15 minutes per day “learning” things that really have no value to me (MP’s comment about social capital acknowledged but not, at the end of the day, enough to overcome my general feeling that I’m wasting time).
  2. It really does irk me that some guy is driving around the neighborhood at 10 MPH delivering these things. And while maybe that guy will eventually lose a job if enough of us keep unsubscribing (as we seem to be), it’s not like I’m not encouraging new (and probably better-paying) jobs by doing more productive things with my time and money saved, including getting my news from other sources. (Not to mention the number of my plants this guy has beheaded over the years).
  3. Plastic. Lots and lots of Boston Globe plastic.
  4. Consumerism. Reading more ads — including the Globe’s own articles and product reviews — is not the way I want to spend my time, nor my money, nor the way I’d like to support local media.

On a more positive note, we continue to support WBUR as members, and I hope that as more of us defect from newspapers that public media will benefit. Why? Because I will donate money to WBUR; I won’t to the Globe. Sorry, that’s just the difference between a nonprofit and a for-profit. I’ll be getting my comics from the Houston Chronicle’s Roll-Your-Own (the only important one it lacks is Arlo & Janis).

btw I don’t do morning coffee. I listen to the news until something makes me so angry that I jolt myself out of bed.

Should we continue to subscribe to the Globe?

A few days ago I came back from a rare early-morning run and noticed an old car slowly easing its way up our street, drive-by style. The man was clearly lost. He was also delivering the Boston Globe.

That’s yet another reason to cancel our subscription to the Globe: the horrible environmental impact of the delivery guys driving around town. Add that to the amount of time I waste every morning reading the paper (which is the same stuff I’d be reading online, plus all the other crap I really needn’t be reading, like the op-eds), not to mention the actual cost of subscribing.

There’s only one and a half reasons to keep subscribing:

One: I can’t think of any other way to support many of the comic strips I love so much, especially the less popular ones like Arlo & Janis.

Half: I really hate contributing to the continuing decline of the daily newspaper, even if the Globe continues to waste too much of its resources on unnecessary coverage. (The nation and world will march on if the Globe drops its national and international desks).


New Yorker cover: smug, self-satisfied, satire

I’ve been of many minds about this week’s New Yorker cover — I wrote the piece below yesterday but held back from publishing it because, well, on the face of it, it’s not exactly racist, and it is satire after all. But in some ways the furor is itself worth considering, and so I put this out there in, perhaps, the same spirit as the New Yorker put out their cover:


On the night of Barack Obama’s primary victory in South Carolina, thousands of us who gathered at the victory rally spontaneously erupted in the chant, “Race doesn’t matter!” This wasn’t a profession of faith so much as a willing suspension of disbelief: South Carolina’s January primary also marked the place and time when race did start to matter in the Presidential campaign.

Race matters, as the conflation of “white” with “American” illustrates. But in critiquing that attitude, Barry Blitt’s cover illustration for this week’s New Yorker commits the same error of judgment that a white man who uses the N-word among black friends would commit if he spoke in the same way among strangers. It’s the kind of faux passé that the privileged have the luxury of committing, and therefore the responsibility not to.

Privilege underlies the even deeper problem of the cover, which is the way it bounces its satire off a deep contempt for Michael Moore’s “stupid white men.” Moore, at least, could profess to be of the group he mocks; not so for the New Yorker. Thus the magazine does Obama few favors, instead cementing the perception that his campaign is fueled by limousine liberalism. But it also does itself a serious disfavor, demonstrating not just disdain for but also ignorance of these other Americans. Pauline Kael didn’t know anyone who voted for Nixon; I doubt the staff of the New Yorker know anyone who thinks Obama is Muslim. Obama calls for understanding over condemnation, and I hope his supporters – especially the privileged ones – will consider what kinds of attitudinal sacrifices such a politics would entail.