Why I Won’t Support Medium’s New Paid Platform
Sara Lynn Michener
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We pay for the New Yorker and the New York Times because those institutions deserve to be paid for the solid work they clearly do in abundance, and because without them, society would devolve further into the muddy abyss where subjectivity reigns; an atmosphere, by the way, that makes it easy for those in power to commit atrocities.

I’m not sure how you can get on someone else for making nonfactual claims at Medium and then post this in the same piece. There is no evidence that, without the New York Times or New Yorker, society would devolve further into some muddy abyss. There is no evidence that the New York Times makes it harder for those in power to commit atrocities.

In fact, the case has frequently been quite the opposite. When we think of atrocities, we think of the Bush administration. Where was the New York Times then? According to Wikipedia:

Judith Miller wrote a series of exclusive and prominently displayed articles “strongly suggest[ing] Saddam Hussein already had or was acquiring an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction” using Ahmad Chalabi as her source prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This aided the Bush administration in making the case for war.

I have an entirely different view of these vaunted institutions, and mine is more in line with Herman and Chomsky, also cited in the same Wikipedia article:

In their book Manufacturing Consent, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky analyze a variety of major U.S. media outlets, with an emphasis on the Times. They conclude that a bias exists which is neither liberal nor conservative in nature, but aligned towards the interests of corporate conglomerates, which own most of these media outlets and also provide the majority of their advertising revenue. The authors explain that this bias functions in all sorts of ways:
“…by selection of topics, by distribution of concerns, by emphasis and framing of issues, by filtering of information, by bounding of debate within certain limits. They determine, they select, they shape, they control, they restrict — in order to serve the interests of dominant, elite groups in the society.”

The New York Times and the New Yorker are part of the problem. They are not protecting me, and they don’t have my interests in mind. To your argument’s credit, they do have an interest in preserving the social order and standing against a devolution into some sort of abyss, but it is a corporatist, oligarchic social order we’re talking about.

You could make the case that Medium is, too, by way of its Editors’ Picks and recommendation practices, but to put these crumbling icons of establishment, corporate media on a pedestal while getting mad at Medium for comparatively innocuous recommendation practices (Medium isn’t beating the drum for war by recommending an article from someone like Trent Lapinski, for instance) seems like a form of cognitive dissonance.

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