Thoughts on cancelling your newspaper subscription, part 1

Writing from Milwaukee, xoff was ticked at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s endorsement of Scott Walker. Xoff, himself a former newspaperman, said :

I’d cancel our subscription if I could, but we already did that five years ago, and have never regretted it.

We did the same here in Madison, 2-3 years ago, not renewing our long-time subscription to the Wisconsin State Journal. It was a disappointment to the dog who had always loved fetching both local papers as well as the New York Times.

It wasn’t easy for us people either. If you love the idea of a smart person asking questions and telling you what they’ve learned, then it’s no easy thing to cancel a newspaper subscription. And if you know that professional journalists need to get paid, you feel bad about withdrawing your support. But it became too frustrating. For us it was the editorial page, exasperating, in both what was there and not there. It felt like subscribing to a service that would both mow the lawn and then vandalize something on the way out.

Getting the local news kept us subscribing despite the editorial stance, so our previous post is pertinent. How does a strikingly misleading analysis like Sunday’s “Level Playing Field?” get to appear over the byline of a respected reporter? The analysis uses an incomplete set of records (i.e., only reported contributions), actually acknowledges the incompleteness, and still moves on to a conclusion. It doesn’t seem up to Dee Hall’s reporting standards. Is it just happenstance that the conclusion is exactly the one the paper’s editorial board would hope for prior to a Very Big election? Is it important that the publisher and top news editor oversee both news and editorial page opinion? It looks bad.

For many subscribers it’s possible to sort of ignore/bypass/forgive the editorials, because the news reporting — on balance, in their view — is valuable enough to justify paying that bill again. You might say there’s enough honey on the front page to ignore that “honey wagon”.on the editorial page. But goodwill can be lost in a hurry if they screw up the news pages, too.

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