Top o’ the mornin’ to ye… Here’s a little mood music…
Actually, as I write this, morning has about eleven minutes left. Then it will be noon. Bill has to leave for Bayern/Bavaria again this afternoon. I will spend the next three nights alone. Then he’ll come home, and life will continue until Friday, which is St. Patrick’s Day.
We probably won’t be doing anything special on the big day for “wearin’ green”. Even though Bill and I have some Irish roots and an Irish last name, I’m really more of a Scot. I think Bill is, too. For the longest time, we both thought he had a lot more Irish ancestry than he does. I was sure he was more Irish than I am. But, according to 23&Me and Ancestry.com, I am more Irish… and one can probably tell that by my temperament.
I ended up having an argument with one guy, who was apparently irritated by my comment that some German women train their men to sit when they pee. That’s the truth, by the way. One guy wanted to argue with me about it. It turned into a blog entry.
But, as it was on that occasion, and as it is on this occasion, Parkins’ column wasn’t actually about what the headline implied. The earlier post I wrote wasn’t really about men sitting down to take a piss. The column was actually about violence against women. But Irish men were “taking the piss” and arguing about whether or not they should be compelled to pee sitting down. It was quite the mess.
Today’s column that has Irish people’s Irish up is titled “Be patient with us clueless foreigners this ‘St. Patty’s Day’”. Of course, because the article is behind a paywall, most of the people commenting haven’t read it. They don’t understand that, of course, Ms. Parkins knows that there’s no such thing as “St. Patty’s Day”. And, amazingly enough, they don’t get that the quotation marks in the headline are a dead giveaway that The Irish Times is well aware that the correct term is St. Patrick’s Day or, if one must abbreviate, “St. Paddy’s Day.” The Irish equivalent of Patrick is, of course, Padraig.
I can understand why it makes Irish people grit their teeth and cringe when they hear some clueless Yank refer to “St. Patty’s Day” while they pinch people who aren’t wearing green. However, the misspelled name was part of the point Ms. Parkins made in her very funny and astute column. If they had respected her enough to read what she actually wrote before complaining on Facebook, maybe they would have had a good laugh.
Parkins’ column was a polite request for Irish folks to be patient with us excitable non-Irish folks. We Yanks get excited about St. Patrick’s Day and our connections to Ireland, no matter how tenuous. And a lot of us are clueless about the realities of living in Ireland in 2023. We just have romantic notions of what it should be like.
Parkins writes of the tourists who show up for St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, wearing their “Kiss me, I’m Irish” t-shirts:
These are the people who swear blind to you that it’s “St Pattys Day”. The type that say they are allowed to pinch you on March 17th without repercussions because you didn’t wear green. In primary school I once walloped a particularly strong fingered and vicious child which I viewed as a proportionate use of force for the shocking act of violence foisted on me. The teacher did not and explained I should have known that I had to wear green or the ‘leprechauns’ would get me because I had an Irish family. An Irish family who never did this pinching carry-on because it’s not actually done in Ireland. My mum might have laughed at this story but not as much as the time she received a note from the school canteen advertising a special Irish lunch option to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.
Was it bacon and cabbage? Coddle? Stew? Crisp sandwiches? No, they proudly announced they would be serving traditional Irish tacos, just like Peig Sayers and Fungi the Dolphin used to enjoy. The fillings you see make the tricolour – orange is carrot, white is over processed shredded cheese and green is lettuce. Which means the tacos were an insult to Mexican and Irish culture. Quite the achievement.
Bwahahahaha… too funny.
But go on the Facebook post for Parkins’ column, and you’ll read many, many indignant comments from people who couldn’t be arsed to read the article before chiming in. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know… it’s behind a paywall. So buy a fucking subscription, then! Or, at least pay attention to the comments from the people who did read, so we don’t have to wade through your uninformed complaints.
That shit drives me NUTS. Seriously… if you don’t have the time or money to read before commenting, I don’t have the time to wade through your bullshit drivel. Check out these comments…
Bravo to Joan Butler, to whom I gave a red heart. Read the fucking article, PLEASE. Show us you actually CAN read!
I have noticed there are a lot of conservatives in Ireland. I’ve also noticed that a lot of conservatives aren’t readers. Coincidence? I don’t know… But The Irish Times is a great paper. They have some truly good journalists who don’t want to work for free. So, for the love of St. Paddy, please subscribe to The Irish Times and then, by all means, make your informed comments on the articles… not just the headlines! The writers will thank you, and those of us who do read, will also be grateful that we don’t have to read your comments and complaints about literal non-issues.
Last night, Bill and I listened to more of Bob Woodward’s Audible book, The Trump Tapes. I’m hoping we’ll finish it tonight, mainly because I hate listening to Donald Trump speak, but also because I look forward to reviewing Woodward’s work. One thing that immediately sticks out to me is that Trump was amazingly forthcoming to this respected member of the press. And Woodward, like any good interviewer, does his best to stroke Trump’s ego, which of course, works like a charm. Trump, like so many narcissistic dictator types before him, loves an audience, and he loves to be stroked. As long as you’re stroking, he’s talking… and Woodward is an expert at extracting information and recording it. So that part of the book is interesting, even as I cringe listening to Trump’s gravelly voice with its weird, sing-songy cadence, and constant spew of bullshit.
Another thing that sticks out to me about The Trump Tapes is that Trump’s focus was almost entirely about money. At one point, he talks about a discussion with the Saudi Arabian king, in which he tells the king “You need to pay…” He was talking about the king needing to pay the United States for military security. He sounded like a mafia boss. I might have been impressed with Trump’s shameless appeal for money, except I know that Trump doesn’t like to pay for things. He has a long list of former lawyers, contractors, and employees who weren’t fully paid or paid at all for their services. Trump seems to think that the so-called “prestige” for working with him ought to be enough. He doesn’t see that if you don’t take care of your people, they won’t take care of you… at least not willingly.
A couple of years ago, I read and reviewed Disloyal, a book written by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Mr. Cohen, like so many others who have worked with Trump, eventually learned that working for Trump will lead to misery and losses. Cohen admitted in his book that his job was mostly about getting Trump out of having to pay for things and using legal muscle to keep people in line. For this work, he was paid less than what he was used to earning. He also had to be at Trump’s beck and call, and it was not at all unusual for Trump to interrupt Cohen’s personal time with phone calls and demands for last minute jobs. In his book, Cohen wrote that Trump never pays full price for anything.
Cohen once admired Trump, and wanted to be like him. But he made the mistake of thinking that Trump would respect him and see him as an equal. Cohen, for all of his legal acumen, did not understand narcissism, and he fell for Trump’s charm. Then later, he realized that to Trump, Cohen was a mere tool to be used at his sole discretion. Cohen paid for his tenure as Trump’s legal lackey with prison time and the loss of his license to practice law. However, I have seen Cohen making the rounds all over YouTube, and he has a new book out called Revenge. I will read Cohen’s next book, because even though I think Cohen is pretty narcissistic himself, he’s entertaining. I also enjoy hearing him throw Trump under the bus. Cohen may have lost his legal career, but he’s laughing all the way to the bank as he generates a career selling out the guy who sold him out repeatedly. Perhaps, in his own way, he’s finally making Trump pay.
This topic comes up today as I look at my Facebook memories from October 27, 2018. Four years ago, Bill and I were in the midst of house hunting, as we made plans to move from Jettingen, Germany to Wiesbaden. At the time, we were renting a house from someone who later reminded me a bit of Trump on many levels. I was feeling psychologically unhinged, due to the passive and active aggressive harassment and false allegations lobbed at us by the ex landlady, whom I knew full well would try to rip off our deposit. Four years ago, I was anxious and upset, and there was a lot of adrenaline building as we geared up to stand up for our rights in a country that is foreign to us.
For the first time ever in our married life, Bill and I were very picky about which house and landlord we would accept. We saw seven houses before we finally decided on the one we’re in, which was the last house we viewed. We are paying a lot for this house, but it’s been worth it. Our current landlord treats us fairly and with respect, and this house is a lot more to my liking than the other one was. So we don’t mind paying, even if it is a lot more than what we used to pay. And, in the end, our former landlady also had to pay.
I read my blog post from October 27, 2018. It was partly about something I saw on The Angry Bartender’s page. Someone had decided that they were “too drunk to tip”, and promised they’d tip the next time they visited. Having worked in the restaurant industry myself, I had sympathy for the bartender, even though I don’t care for the tipping custom myself. I mean, I absolutely DO tip where tipping is the norm. I just think it would be better if paying staff wasn’t passed off to customers. I prefer the way tipping is in Germany, where servers and bartenders are expected to be paid by the people who hired them, and tipping truly is a token of gratitude from the customer, rather than an obligation. However– in the USA right now, tipping is expected in most places. And if you’re too drunk to do math, then you probably shouldn’t be exiting a bar without an escort, especially if you can’t walk to wherever it is you’re sleeping. My guess is that the Uber driver isn’t going to want to be stiffed on a tip, either.
Some people on that post were saying that the bartender ought to report the non tipping patron to the police. Naturally, someone else was outraged by that idea, and said so in the comments. From my post four years ago:
I read the comments and one woman suggested getting the person’s license plate number and calling the cops, telling them the person left the bar too drunk to drive. Another commenter left an irate shaming comment about how jacked up it is to “fuck up someone’s life” just because they didn’t tip. But think about this for a minute. This person was too drunk to do math. If he or she was so intoxicated that tipping properly was too much of a challenge, he or she was certainly too intoxicated to drive. And people who are that drunk have no right to “fuck up” or end an innocent person’s life by driving drunk.
I continue to be amazed by some people’s senses of entitlement. I see it every day on any newspaper comment section on Facebook, where people constantly complain about paywalls. One guy wrote this:
Why do you post this if only subscribers can read it? You should create a close[d] group only for subscribers.
People pointed out to the guy that if he was reading so many articles that he’d used up his free limit, he needed to become a subscriber. The guy came back with more nasty, entitled spew, as he didn’t seem to realize that he obviously values the paper’s articles enough to read them. But he doesn’t want to pay for the news, even though good journalism is a profession that takes training, expertise, and a fair amount of natural talent. Isn’t that worth paying for? Journalists have bills to pay, too, and it takes money, training, and time to bring you the news. I want to ask the complaining guy if he works for free. Better yet, is he one of those people who resents people who don’t work? Writing the news is a job. People who work jobs should be paid. Newspapers and other media outlets generate money through subscriptions and advertising. You want to read it? You need to pay.
I don’t know what is going to happen with Trump. I see a number of people are trying to hold him accountable. In the past, he’s been eel-like in his ability to slip out of financial obligations. He seems friendly and energizing to those who stroke his ego, but people don’t seem to understand that what they’re seeing is simply superficial charm. There is no substance to it. I listen to Trump act like he and Bob Woodward are great friends, but then Woodward went on to write books about what a dishonest slimeball Trump is, and how his administration was dogged by constant chaos and lies. Woodward is polite and respectful to Trump, not getting offended when he doesn’t let him get a word in edgewise. He gets the story by letting Trump speak for himself. Listening to The Trump Tapes is painful on many levels, and yet we can hear straight from the man’s mouth what a lying grifter he is. He’s someone who never wants to pick up the check, as he tells other people “You need to pay.”
It’s not lost on me that Bob Woodward’s Audible book is coming out just before the midterm elections. I hope it has the right effect on enough people. I don’t think we can afford another Trump term. It’s time Trump paid for his fun, instead of pushing the check on to the American public. It’s time that we, as a society, told Trump, “You need to pay.”
Hopefully, I’ll be ready to write a real review of The Trump Tapes soon. For now, it’s time to do my usual Thursday chores, which now includes taking Arran to the vet for his chemo. Cheerio!
I didn’t sleep very well last night. I woke up to pee, probably because Bill got up to pee. He was on the potty when I went into the bathroom. After our encounter, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I started reading the news. There was an article about how hospitals in Ukraine are dealing with shortages of oxygen, thanks to the Russian invasion and the high number of COVID patients. I was kind of awestruck by the picture of the hospital interior. I was reminded that Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, because the photo reminded me of the inside of an Armenian hospital I once visited in 1996. I was surprised that the Ukrainian facility still looked like a 90s era post Soviet hospital.
Then I went to the comment section, where some guy was complaining about the paywall. It always irks me when people bitch about having to pay for newspapers, as if they would be willing to work for free or give away their valuables. The complainer maintained that all coverage about COVID should be free of charge, in the interest of health promotion. For many months, The New York Times provided plenty of free coverage on COVID. Moreover, there are lots of news sources out there. The New York Times isn’t a free publication. It never has been. One doesn’t go into a store and read a print edition, as if one would at a library. Why should it be any different online? And how do people expect journalists to do their jobs if there’s no income stream with which to pay them for their work?
I’ve complained about that phenomenon more than once in this rag of a blog of mine. I’m not wanting to do it again today. I’m just building up to my point, which I’ll get to in due time. Suffice to say that people who whine about having to pay for quality journalism really get on my nerves. I didn’t leave a comment for the whiny bastard. Someone else kindly did it for me, and in good style. However, one thing I did notice, was that the whiny bastard left an entitled response when someone recommended that he block The New York Times from his feed and/or find another, free or cost-effective, news source. This is what he wrote:
1. I will not block them from my feed. Even the headlines are of some value. 2. I certainly didn’t need you to tell me there are other sources of information. I’ve examined dozens just today. 3. If they could publish free articles about COVID, then they certainly could do it in this case, for the same reason – to preserve human life. (Profit took a backseat to doing the right thing then, and so it should now!)
Then, when the person who engaged him advised him to stop complaining, he wrote:
The NYT seems to have a purpose behind this article. To provoke empathy for the suffering people. And, knowing the long reach of their newsfeed, it will get the notice of people who could help. So why put a speed bump in the way, an impediment to humanitarian aid. It doesn’t make sense. (And to remind you, I have a right to express myself – remember America is a land of Freedom of Expression. So I’ll complain all I want, for as long as I want! Many times in my past my complaints have produced real change, sometimes they’ve just changed people’s minds. Either way, Not Going Anywhere !)
I still don’t understand why his points about the shortage of oxygen in Ukrainian hospitals entitle him to read the paper for free. It sounds to me like he’s just cheap. He even admitted that “even the headlines are of some value.” So he admits that the paper is valuable. He just doesn’t want to support it by subscribing. Either way, I guarantee that complaining about paywalls in a comment section on Facebook won’t make a happy damn to the bean counters. They offer a valuable product for which many people, myself included, are willing to pay. I use The New York Times every day. It’s worth the money to me.
I was still somewhat exasperated after reading that exchange. That guy is an example of a person I can do without, although he’s probably a nice enough fellow when he isn’t bitching about paywalls. As Bill and I were enjoying breakfast, I somehow got on a tangent about other people who get on my nerves. I was suddenly reminded of a woman I used to regularly rant about years ago. She was just one of those people who irritated the ever living hell out of me. I think that guy’s comment reminded me of that woman, whom I used to call “Ms. Overly Helpful”.
In the years before social media, I used to hang out on a messageboard for second wives and stepmothers. I ran into some really great ladies. I also ran into a few assholes, although in fairness, I’m sure some of them thought of me as an asshole, too. In any case, Ms. OH was just one of those people with whom I can’t mesh. I know she has many friends, fans, and loved ones. I’m just not among them.
There’s no shame in that, by the way. Even the most likable people in the world have some people in their lives who can’t stand them. Bea Arthur, for example, famously disliked Betty White, of all people! I don’t know why, but it was widely reported that Bea didn’t like Betty at all. Even Betty, herself, admitted it. I read that Bea found Betty’s unflappable optimism annoying. To be honest, I think that would annoy me, too. I remember on The Golden Girls, there was even an episode about how Rose Nylund annoys a work colleague by incessantly trying to be his friend, when he didn’t want to be friends with her. Below is an exchange from that episode.
Ms. OH was a little like that sometimes. She fancied herself an “Earth Mother” type, and would offer me unsolicited advice and opinions. Every time I made a comment, she would contradict me in the most patronizing and infuriating ways. And I would try to hold back on the urge to be rude to her, because her comments would almost always rub me the wrong way. Like, for instance, she would question things like whether or not I should buy a new car (used is sooo much cheaper), or a new computer (have I done everything I can to make the old one last)… or whether or not I should be concerned about a strange man loitering by my mailbox (maybe he’s perfectly harmless– stop being so suspicious!). See what I mean?
I remember one time, we had a row that got quite contentious. I commented to her, quite frankly, but as politely as I could, that whether or not it was her intention to be offensive, I found her contrary responses to be disrespectful and condescending. I really tried hard not to be as nasty as I felt like being, while still making it clear that she was pissing me off, and asking her to cease and desist. I didn’t tell her to “fuck off”, though. I just clearly informed her that her comments were offending me. Ms. OH’s response was to send me a private message angrily berating me for “insulting her”. All I really wanted was for her to just leave me the fuck alone! I couldn’t block her on the message board, because we were both “admins”.
So anyway, once we all migrated to Facebook, one day I quietly dropped her from my friends list. For awhile, it was fine. I didn’t have so many encounters with her, and that made my life better. But then I got added to a Facebook group for second wives and stepmothers. It was 2012, so I had just turned 40. I got a message from the local Army clinic that it was time to schedule my first mammogram (which I still haven’t done, and I’m now 49). The clinic had also assigned a primary care manager to me; someone I hadn’t chosen and had never met before. I knew that if I went in to see the physician’s assistant assigned to me, she’d probably want to do other stuff, and quite frankly, that was very scary to me. I have a real “phobia” of medical providers, particularly the ones who want to examine my junk. It’s because I had a traumatic first experience with an OB-GYN.
I looked up the P.A. online, and found some public photos of her that made me think she wouldn’t be mature enough to deal with my issues. She was quite young and inexperienced. So I casually mentioned to my friends in the group that I thought I would be changing my primary healthcare provider, because the one the Army had assigned to me was a poor fit. Ms. OH, and a few others, were offended by my decision. In Ms. OH’s case, it was because her daughter is/was a young healthcare provider who likes to party. She was sure to tell me that her daughter would give me “excellent” care if I went to her, even though she has a “personal life” and likes to party sometimes.
Of course, I had to sigh at that response… because my situation with the Army P.A. I’d never met didn’t have a fucking thing to do with Ms. OH’s daughter. However, I also knew that I would never voluntarily choose to see Ms. OH’s daughter for healthcare, simply because she is Ms. OH’s daughter. I would rather see someone who doesn’t have such an intimate connection to someone who gets on my last nerve. And that choice should be okay, since there are plenty of people in the world who would happily see her daughter for healthcare, just as the P.A. who was assigned to me had a whole shitload of people on her list who would have no issues whatsoever seeing her.
I was just a name on a piece of paper to the P.A., so it’s not like my choice not to see her was even a personal affront. She wouldn’t be losing any money or prestige by my decision. In fact, she wouldn’t even be the wiser about it. I just wanted someone older and more experienced. What the hell is wrong with that? Like I said… if you’re going to examine my junk, I have the right to exact high standards. I honestly couldn’t see why this was such a big deal, and I never expected the controversy to arise the way it did in that group.
Well, the whole controversy was finally blowing over, until Ms. OH chimed in again, and then the issue blew up anew, with new people berating me for having my standards. They were more concerned about my not offending the healthcare provider by being “prejudicial” due to her public social media posts, than my own comfort and sense of trust. I was pretty flabbergasted, since I didn’t realize my choices regarding healthcare providers was up for debate. I mean, wouldn’t “friends” want me to be comfortable with and confident regarding my healthcare providers? But it soon got very ugly… so I quietly removed myself from the group. Ms. OH noticed, and sent me an email, which was, for once, not totally offensive. She wrote that she was glad I was “okay”. Fine.
Incidentally, Bill did end up seeing that P.A. and it turned out my instincts about her were correct. Bill has hypertension, but his case is unusual because he also has congenital hyponatremia (chronically low blood sodium). The P.A. gave him the usual spiel about avoiding stress, exercising, eating right, and not salting his food. However, because of Bill’s unusual and unique blood chemistry, actually he has been told by physicians that he should use salt. In his case, not salting his food is bad advice, in spite of his having high blood pressure. I’m sure the P.A. has plenty of textbook knowledge, and by now, she’s probably very experienced. But my instincts to avoid her were good, because in 2012, she was still pretty “green”.
A couple of years later, I ran into Ms. OH again on social media, and she made another passive aggressive dig to me regarding alcoholism, which is a sensitive topic for me. Having interacted with me for years, I think she was very aware that it was a delicate topic for me. I didn’t think her snarky comment, along with winkie smilies, was innocent, nor did I appreciate it at all. She also had a laugh at my expense, which angered me.
This time, I decided enough was enough, and I blocked her. Then I told Bill, “You wait. As soon as she sees that I blocked her, Ms. OH will send me an email.” Sure enough, I was right. Within a couple of hours, she’d sent an irate email DEMANDING to know why I blocked her. It was as if she felt I had no right to disassociate with her. My decision to block her was a personal affront, kind of like Rose Nylund trying to force her co-worker to be friends with her, when he didn’t want to be friends.
I was still really pissed off, and frankly, very surprised by her nerve. Usually, when people block you on social media, it means they DON’T want to talk to you. If you’re a basically decent person, you understand that the person doesn’t want to talk to you and respect that. And yet, here was Ms. OH, feeling quite entitled to bother me with an angry and demanding email. Part of me felt like ripping her a new one. But I thought better of it, and simply ignored her. Several years later, I unblocked her on Facebook. She took the first available opportunity to apologize to me, which was nice enough, although still kind of controlling– kind of like Hoovering. It was her way of getting the last word, I guess. I was gracious about it, and thankfully, that was that.
Anyway, I guess that commenter on The New York Times reminded me of Ms. OH, with his complaints about paywalls. How dare The New York Times expect payment for services rendered? And how dare a fellow reader take him to task for his whining, which he mistakenly believes will amount to anything more than laughing reactions and irritated comments from other Facebook users? And how dare I have standards for people who have intimate contact with my medical history and my body? How dare I make decisions about with whom I will communicate? People like the guy on The New York Times thread and Ms. OH are entitled twits. I don’t know the commenter at all, but I have to say that expecting to read newspaper content for free makes him appear to be pretty narcissistic, if not a bit deluded. But, since I don’t know the guy, and I feel that people should get the benefit of the doubt whenever possible, I’ll just assume he simply hasn’t thought very much about how journalists make a living.
Well, the dogs are demanding a walk, so I better wrap this up. Have a nice Monday, y’all.
It’s a shame that today’s featured photo/meme is so truthful. Journalism shouldn’t be a “joke” profession.
Today’s rant is inspired by a comment I read on The New York Times’s Facebook page. The comment was in response to an article about Dolly Parton’s attempts (and unfortunate failure) to motivate Tennesseans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The person had cut and pasted the op-ed article, written by Margaret Renkl, into the comment section on Facebook. Then she left another comment directly under it that read, “F*ck paywalls!”
I left her a comment that read, “Do you work for free?” Someone “laughed” at that. I’m not sure why it was a funny comment. Maybe she saw my point, or maybe she thinks paying for news is crazy. I don’t think it’s an outrageous concept at all. Many people go to school to learn how to write the news. I also know for a fact that plenty of people can’t write for shit. They can’t formulate ideas in a coherent way, produce grammatically correct material, or even spell worth a damn. I’m glad there are actual writers with talent, education, and skill who write for publications like The New York Times. The average person should have more respect for what journalists and other writers do, and stop expecting them to work for free.
It really bugs me that people complain about having to pay for newspaper subscriptions. Do people really not understand that journalism is a legitimate and extremely important profession? That’s right, it’s actually WORK to write something of good quality, especially something that is considered publishable in a respected newspaper. It takes time and money to gather the news, and it takes talent to write a piece that is enjoyable enough to finish. Why do so many people think it’s acceptable to “steal” content? Would these same people walk into a store and steal a book or a printed newspaper?
Journalism is a time honored and vital profession. We rely on journalists to deliver the news in a timely and accurate fashion. Newspapers also offer opinions, which give us something to think about and discuss with friends and loved ones, or even in blog posts like this one. They contain recipes, reviews, and classified ads, all of which are useful and valuable to the public. The people who deliver the news– yes, even online– have to eat, just like you do. They have to gas up their cars, pay for housing, and keep the lights on. They deserve to be paid for their work. One way that can happen is when people purchase subscriptions. That’s how newspapers stay afloat.
Sadly, newspapers are dying. According to The Guardian, which doesn’t put its content behind a paywall, but does welcome donations, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that “the newspaper industry has lost more than 50% of its employees since 2001. While several big national papers like the New York Times are healthy, more typical are the closures, bankruptcies, and extreme downsizing that increasingly leave cities, towns and rural communities without local news.”
The Internet has been very tough on the newspaper industry. People can pick and choose from so many different papers or other news sources. It used to be common to subscribe to the paper in one’s community. But now, we can all go online and read from an endless array of newspapers from around the world or watch an array of news on television or the Internet. While more people than ever are reading the news, there’s a lot less money to go around to support the papers. And so, a lot of newspapers have died or are dying. If too many of them die, it could lead to the death of freedom itself. Journalism is vital to providing unbiased information to the masses.
I understand that newspaper subscriptions are expensive, especially if you don’t have a lot of money. There are “free” sources of news, that rely mostly on ads to get revenue. Some papers also offer a few free articles per month as a public service or incentive to subscribe. So often, though, I read rude comments from people who lament about having to pay to read. I’m sure you don’t work for free. Why should journalists and publishers? If people don’t pay for a subscription, how can we expect them to keep writing high quality content?
What’s the alternative to not paying for news? The abolition of the free press is one alternative, but that would come at a high price. It would likely mean we’d mostly be getting news that is heavily slanted by bias and the preferences of the benefactor. I don’t generally rant a lot about communism or socialism in this blog, but in this case, I think it makes sense. If the government alone provides the news, how truthful do you think it would be? The same thing goes for a businesses that provide the news. There needs to be a healthy balance of news sources available in a free society. Without money, it’s not possible to maintain news sources. Writing for news outlets can be a stressful, dangerous job, too. Plenty of journalists have put themselves in harm’s way to get stories for the world. Sometimes, those career decisions end in tragedy.
At this writing, I subscribe to several newspapers. I get The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Irish Times, and my hometown paper, the Gazette-Journal. I also subscribe to an online periodical called The Local: Germany, which provides news about Germany in English, and The Atlantic magazine, which regularly depresses me, but does provide some food for thought. Most people don’t want or need to subscribe to as many papers as I do. I like to have the subscriptions, though, because they help me write my blog.
I don’t get paid to write this blog, but I am a big believer in accuracy and quality. I like to be able to quote sources. It’s much harder to do that if I don’t have newspaper subscriptions that allow me to read and research as much as I need or want. So, while I personally get something out of my subscriptions, I’d like to think that anyone who reads my blog might also get something from them, since this blog doesn’t cost anything to read. Of course, this blog isn’t a news source, nor is it particularly highbrow journalism. No one should be reading my blog for anything more than entertainment value, even though I have found myself quoted in undergraduate and high school academic papers and on Wikipedia. 😀 I get a kick out of that, especially since they refer to me as “The Overeducated Housewife”. Just this morning, I found myself quoted in a term paper offered for sale on a site called Course Hero. I guess I’ve arrived… or education standards have really slipped.
Since I don’t like hypocrisy, I just contributed 50 euros to The Guardian, since I do use that paper sometimes. I used to be a regular patron, but I accidentally unsubscribed when I tried to turn off auto-pay. I did that because I don’t like auto-pay deducting money from my bank account. I prefer to do it manually and consciously. That way, I can be sure there’s enough money in my account and I still want or need the subscription.
I also like to contribute money to causes and needy individuals, although I’ve found that a whole lot of people neglect to say “thank you”. I just gave a dog rescue $200 through their donation link. I’ve never even adopted from this outfit. But so far, I’ve not gotten so much as a “thanks” from them. So that will probably be the only time I send them any money, since I know there are so many other rescues in need. Ditto for people– sometimes even “friends” on GoFundMe– who ask for money and then don’t even express appreciation.
Newspapers are different, though, because they truly do offer a valuable and VITAL service, particularly in a free society. I think the availability of quality journalism is very important and worth paying for, so I will continue to chastise people like the woman on Facebook who wrote “f*ck paywalls” underneath the content she stole from The New York Times. I’d like to tell her, “Lady, you’re not Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Newspapers NEED your financial support. So fuck you for saying ‘f*ck paywalls’. I hope someone stiffs you sometime. Maybe you’ll learn some empathy.”
I don’t like to be preachy or shaming, but really… think about this for a moment. Consider paying to subscribe to at least one news source. The press needs your support, and your mind will be better off for actually reading, and paying for, your news.
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