Boycott the New York Times

So it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, and this will be a whole lot more pragmatic than anything else on this blog, but, you know, every once in a while I like to come down from my pretentious little cloud and, you know, do something. For me, as for so many others, The New York Times has long been a primary means of relating to that so-called real world. If you move in educated, left-leaning circles, in fact, it’s hard to get by without reading the times. It comes up in conversations so frequently that to get your news elsewhere often leaves you feeling left out, basically illiterate on some important level. The funny thing is, almost everyone, at least in my circles, seems to know that the Times isn’t a great paper. It’s hard to take them seriously as the paper of record when they publish self-indulgent schlock like this article claiming that the cost of living in New York isn’t actually that high, because, you know, you can get your caviar really cheap.

But generally, I’ve felt that I could trust their straight reporting to be basically accurate, fair, and well-intentioned. Until this election cycle, where they’ve worn their Hilary boosterism on their sleeves and transparently distort election result to make her ascension seem a sure thing. Yesterday, Trump won Louisiana, and Cruz took home Kansas and Maine. The Times sees this as evidence of his, “enduring appeal among conservatives,” which was sure to, “energize the anti-Trump forces.” Bernie, meanwhile, lost Louisiana but took home Kansas and Nebraska. But the Times brushed off these victories, claiming that, “the biggest stakes were on the Republican side, and voters sensed it….” Apparently, the Times no longer feels any need to hide its prejudices.

There are alternatives– there’s better writing, better reporting, and better activism out there than what you can get from the Times. Its why I’m not reading the Times anymore. Your conscience should dictate whether or not you do the same, but if you’re looking for alternatives beyond the obvious, I have a few suggestions:

The Guardian– Sometimes also wears its heart on its sleeve, but at least it doesn’t pretend to be straight-faced and sober at the same time. They reliably offer smart, insightful commentary about the race.

Pro Publica– Independent, non-profit reporting that specializes in in-depth investigations.

Der Spiegel– All of my German friends read Der Spiegel as a kind of guilty pleasure. It’s not much better than Time or Newsweek, but it’s a good way to get an international perspective on current affairs, and the English-language version is robust and very active.

Süddeutsche Zeitung This is the paper that you wish the times could be. Thoughtful, engaged, and wide-ranging, without so much of the absurd back-patting that marks the gray lady. Unfortunately, the English-language edition is pretty thin, but it’s worth checking out anyway.

Le Monde Diplomatique– Publishes a monthly English edition. Highly recommended.

El País– Spain’s leading daily offers a section with regular updates on the U.S. elections. A recent highlights was the comparison of Berlusconi and Trump.






As examples of the malfeasance of the global financial industry go, the following story is beyond petty. The sums involved are small and I am fortunate enough to be isolated (by unearned privilege and by the fact that my landlord is kind, generous, and a friend) from its direct consequences. But maybe the very mundanity of this interaction– the very fact that it is relatively trivial and unlikely to provoke an emotional reaction makes it particularly valuable as an object of analysis, makes it capable of revealing the structural disenfranchisement implicit in the contemporary global financial system.

Here’s what happened: Yesterday, I got an email from the woman whose apartment in Berlin I rent. Apparently I hadn’t paid rent for the last two months. I was, to put it mildly, a bit surprised by this, as I’d transferred her the money in a timely fashion. I emailed her PDFs of the details of the transfers from my account at the Commerzbank to hers at the Deutsche Kredit Bank and she was able to see the problem immediately: The International Bank Account Number (IBAN) on the transfers was wrong. Now, if this had been my error or hers then I would simply have shrugged my shoulders and said that, as it was my mistake, I would have to assume responsibility for any expenses incurred by the error. The mistake, however, was not mine: German banks are in the midst of a transition from a domestic to an international wire transfer system. My landlord had given me the information to transfer the rent using the old system. That information was then automatically converted to accord to the new system and in the process a mistake was made which resulted in my money being transferred to some, as yet unknown, third-party. The only recourse available at the Commerzbank’s branch office was to ask them to open an investigation into the missing funds, which they expect to conclude within the next few days– though, of course, they can make no guarantees.

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