Saturday, February 21, 2009

Do Black People Even Read the New York Post Anymore?

I was just going to let this particular bit of nonsense from this “barely-a-newspaper” go by without any remarks, but their published “apology” this week, and their general attitude toward the public here in New York City and by extension the nation is one of petulant, juvenile disrespect.

The New York Post has long conducted itself as though it had no more responsibility to the factual truth or to their readers than a high school newspaper. It’s the reason why I’ve never bought a copy. The New York Post just isn’t a newspaper I need to read.

Most people justify their reading of Rupert Murdoch’s Post with just two words: “Page Six.” Curiously, it’s a defense of reading a paper by citing the value of its least “journalistic” product. Rife with blind items, rumor and innuendo, -that even when true- are just not important. Sadly, the Business section, despite the 3rd Grade level sophistication of its article headlines, is actually spot on with great scoops and very direct, succinct coverage. It’s a solid daily report on the economy, and principal actors in the financial markets. But it can’t afford not to be, no business section can. I wish I could stomach the nonsense that surrounds it to get to that section, but that would be like digging through feces to get at a quarter. I’d rather just go borrow a quarter from someone.

If an intelligent person feels they need to defend and justify reading a local newspaper, then something is clearly wrong with the paper in question. Which brings us to their political cartoons. For many years, badly drawn and bereft of any complex tropes or commentary, these are not the kind of caricatures that would hold their own against the doodles in a kid’s Math notebook.

I mean seriously.

No one can prove that it was the New York Post’s intention to insult and demean the President of the United States with a racist characterization, -an animal comparison that is so old, stupid and base that it’s almost fallen out of vogue with the Klan. No can prove that the cartoon was intended to be an illustrated racial slur against Barack Obama. Conversely, no one can prove that it wasn’t… barring some internal memo or communication exposing the motives in developing this cartoon.

However, even those of us unfamiliar with the workings of any individual newspaper’s editorial procedures know that there is a process of submission and approval for any piece of content in a newspaper. Am I to believe, that this idea was pitched, reviewed and approved with not one single human being at the NY Post raising the issue that this would at best be misconstrued as an insensitive gag, if not an out and out racist joke?

I don’t buy it, literally and figuratively.
Maybe the editors and publisher thought the controversy would be worth it. Maybe they thought it wouldn’t be interpreted that way. But it’s highly improbable. It’s on the order of the New York Post doing a pro Democratic Party cartoon without knowing it. Does anyone believe that’s possible?

The New Yorker Cartoon we discussed here on Random Thoughts last summer inspired a lot of rage and talk of boycotts as well. That magazine cover’s problems were caused by its complicated but direct satirical presentation of some of the more asinine racist associations being pushed by Republican Party supporters in the media. It too baffled the public because of the impossible idea that an editorial staff did not foresee that cover on the newsstand causing so much anger.

I still see one or two people of Color reading the NY Post on my way into work on the train, but there used to be a lot more. I suppose I will see even less now. This is not good. The newspaper model in New York City and around the nation is in great danger right now. Those free newspapers are not the answer. Free newspapers are too dependent on the marketers that sponsor them with ad buys. Real journalism costs real money, and the only way to ensure most of it isn’t a series of veiled press releases is to use our own money to pay for it.

Do not boycott the New York Post.

The answer is the public’s demand for a better New York Post with journalistic integrity. The public must demand a paper that thinks twice before engaging in controversy for controversy’s sake. This newspaper that Alexander Hamilton founded could be a great and relevant paper again. If you don’t like the fact that these cartoons suck, if you don’t like the fact that Wednesday’s cartoon was at best a cynical attempt at getting publicity through controversy, or at worst the latest sour-grapes racist insult to our President…
-Write to the newspaper.
Let the New York Post know how you feel.

The Black and Hispanic readers on my morning commute are the last holdouts who manage to somehow look around the Post’s Op Ed pages and its general posture toward minorities in America. There is a certain shame, perhaps a self-loathing, implicit in walking around with a copy of the New York Post under your arm if you are Black or Hispanic. It’s a paper you have to rationalize reading if you are of a minority race.

People will say they read it for Page Six, or for the sports, but no one I’ve met, Black, Hispanic, White or even Republican cops to reading the paper for its own sake.

I wonder if Rupert Murdoch knows that, or if he even cares.


1 comment:

Jack Jodell said...

Typical fare for a Rupert Murdoch-owned media vehicle. Look at the crap he runs on Fox "News" every day! I feel sorry for the poor suckers who read and watch his bullshit and actually believe it!