October 16, 2012 · 0 Comments
An important appeal from NYT eXaminer
Mainstream media play a pre-eminent role in framing the contours of political debate and public perception on the most important issues of our time. The New York Times (the Times) affects not only its own readers but also other media outlets worldwide. A newspaper as influential as this deserves a dedicated watchdog. The New York Times eXaminer (NYTX) fills this role. But we cannot continue our watchdog service without your support.
NYTX provides an online platform that looks and feels similar to the Times’ own website, but contain radically different content. The Editor, Chris Spannos, monitors the Times daily – as do our growing team of writers. NYTX aims to respond to Times coverage while also engaging Times Editors, reporters and past and present staff. NYTX also collects and organizes analysis of Times coverage so that a central repository of critique is built on the site, providing a stage to amplify and focus analysis on the influential “paper of record.”
Without your donations this project will cease to survive in the new year. However, with your support, we will expand our project concept to other influential mainstream media around the world as part of an international “eXaminer” network of media activists and organizers working for truth and social justice in media.
Our concept was inspired by the work of Noam Chomsky, notably in “Manufacturing Consent,” his co-author in that book Edward Herman’s watchdog project “Lies of Our Times,” The Yes Men’s 2008 parody of the New York Times and Richard Falk and Howard Friel’s two books “The Paper of the Record: How the New York Times Misreports U.S. Foreign Policy” and their companion book “Israel-Palestine on Record: How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East.”
NYT eXaminer was created as a platform to develop critical media literacy and to “press the press” for a more socially just and honest media.
Historical market incentives encouraged papers to divorce themselves from any specific affiliation and portray themselves as independent voices of public opinion and common sense. The discourse of journalistic objectivity becomes a political discourse, however, when it is used to obscure an underlying partiality. To address this problem NYTX supports and advocates for the journalistic application of international legal norms, commitments and principles, scientific consensus and historical context, as well as other legitimate standards to major national and international issues of the day. By focusing on the Times, NYTX aims to have a ripple effect.
We know that NYTX – our alternative for Times’ readers – reaches Editors, journalists, students and professors, and other media makers. Indeed, it is for anyone who reads the Times and relies on it for their daily news. We want people to think twice about the media they consume and produce.
Our Work to Date
NYTX was launched one year ago on October 14, 2011. Since then we have published daily analysis of Times’ articles including front-page, international, national, Editorial and Op-Ed pieces. NYTX provides commentary and critique covering every major category of Times’ news sections – including World, U.S., Business, Art and Style, Science and Technology, Health and Sports, Book Reviews, Times’ conferences and more. NYTX recognizes reporting that the Times’ does well in our “Some Times is Good Times” column. And, we highlight important stories that are not receiving coverage in our “Unfit to Print” column. By hosting an Environment section on our website’s banner area, we seek to highlight the Times’ failure to do so on their own website. The section provides critical analysis of Times reporting on environmental news. We also publish letters that Times readers send to them but which they do not publish.
NYTX journalists have reported on current events from locations around the world, including Thailand, Greece, Israel-Palestine and more. Our writers have developed numerous columns including Marie Burns’ “Reality Chex,” Michael McGehee’s “Truth Addict,” Costas Panayotakis “Economic Democracy,” Danny Schechter’s “News Dissector” video column and many more. We also cover labor and management relations in the Times, for example you can see our interview with Grant Glickson, Chair of the Newspaper Guild New York Times bargaining unit. We offer structural critique, not only of the Times, but of mainstream media more broadly and that addresses race, gender, class, decision-making power and more.
We have worked diligently to present ongoing alternative understandings to the Times’ reporting on Occupy Wall Street (OWS) by rooting our views in, among other standards, a combined legal and social justice framework. In December 2011 NYTX brought together a number of OWS activists, organizers, media producers, and legal experts for our panel “Unspinning Occupy Wall Street: Mainstream Media & the 99%.” Among those we hosted were Gideon Oliver, Attorney and President of the NYC chapter of the National Lawyers Guild to discuss the Times’ representation of legal issues surrounding OWS including the arrest of 800 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge and much more. Earlier this year NYTX also hosted our event “The Essential Economic Role of the New York Times” which not only addressed the Times’ coverage of OWS but offered a rigorously researched understanding of how the Times has reported on micro and macro-economic policy spanning a sixty-year period and addressing the views of their star columnists Paul Krugman and Thomas Friedman.
We launched NYTX with a ten part in-person video interview with WikiLeaks’ Founder and Editor Julian Assange discussing his experience working with the Times. Since then NYTX has consistently responded to Times’ reporting on matters pertaining to WikiLeaks, Julian Assange (who has joined our Advisory Council), Bradley Manning and whistle blowers generally. Our concern with the Times treatment of WikiLeaks is rooted in our belief that – like the 1971 Pentagon Papers before it – WikiLeaks’ Collateral Murder video, Afghan and Iraq War Logs, and Cablegate leaks provide a unique window through which to understand press freedoms, free speech, and constitutional rights in the United States. NYTX filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the State Department. We asked for records ranging the two year period from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2011 and regarding any communication between the State Department and the New York Times about the Collateral Murder video, Afghan and Iraq War Logs, Cablegate, and related WikiLeaks material. WikiLeaks has also invited NYTX to participate in an investigative partnership to mine their database of five million Stratfor e-mails, which has resulted in our report “Unethical Record: Stratfor and the New York Times” which documents a fourteen year relationship between the two corporations.
Response to NYTX
In our first year NYTX has already received critical acclaim from media consumers, activists, organizers and academics. Writer and Political Scientist Stephen Shalom said “If the New York Times is the newspaper of record, the NYT eXaminer is the critic of record. By all means read the Times for its news and opinions. But check out the eXaminer if you want the biases and errors of the Times exposed and subjected to critical analysis…” Alternative media have interviewed many of our writers. Mainstream media have also recognized our contributions. In response to our advocacy, the Times published NYTX writer Howard Friel’s letter pointing out that their coverage of Iran’s nuclear program had omitted any reference to international law. In June of this year, the Times’ then Public Editor, Art Brisbane commented in his Opinion piece on our application of version control technology to track changes in Times’ reporting on Julian Assange. Many media outlets internationally – and across the political spectrum – continue to refer to our website and articles. And by using a cross-section of web analysis tools we can see that between 700,000-800,000 unique visitors have come to our website during this period.
There is much more untapped potential in the NYTX project. But the simple fact is that we have about reached our limit of what we can do without more support from you. NYTX will end if funding does not come through immediately.
Funding & Stabilization
Since June 2011, when the project began to be developed (almost 18 months ago), NYT eXaminer has survived on a shoe-string budget of approximately USD $60,000.00. Expenses during this period covered various set up costs, including incorporation, servers and hosting fees, site development costs and a full-time staff salary for one person. Continuing expenses, after set-up, are broken down as the following:
1) USD $2,500.00 per month for staff costs. Staff duties include publishing, editing, writing, soliciting content, web development, system administration, organizing conferences and forums, user support, and more.
2) USD $500.00 per month for server maintenance, office space, internet, electricity, phone, and other bills.
We do not accept any government or corporate money or advertising. We rely on your donations only.
NYT eXaminer needs your help to survive, expand and grow. Your funding would be applied to the development of:
1) a “crowd sourcing” facility to encourage NYTX users and readers to participate in responding to Times’ articles;
2) integrated version control technology to track and report on changes in Times’ articles;
3) a “Times Insiders” column hosting the news and views from past and present Times’ staffers;
4) investigative reports
5) server enhancements
6) video reports and equipment;
7) an internship program;
8) yearly book anthologies of the best material NYTX publishes;
9) expanding the NYTX concept to other corporate media around the world.
We need to stabilize. We need to grow. We need your support.
Please donate any amount to NYT eXaminer using our secure facility below.