The Corner


Four Things to Read

The New York Times building in New York City (Gary Hershorn/Reuters)

Batya Ungar-Sargon in the Washington Examiner: How the pursuit of an economically and educationally elite readership for big newspapers (led by the New York Times) drove mainstream journalism to abandon the middle and working class, change who becomes journalists, and how stories are covered:

By the 1970s, the New York Times had shifted from boasting of the affluence of its readers to boasting about their education. “The New York Times will enlighten, expose, expound, confound, explore, suggest, contest, probe, prod, praise, and otherwise provoke and inform now more than ever before,” read an ad it placed in Editor & Publisher on Sept. 19, 1970. Two other ads placed by the paper in 1970 showed the “New York Spenders,” featuring an expensively, understatedly dressed woman in an antique shop, and the “New York Smarties,” three men playing squash, for which it added the caption, “Two-thirds of them have attended college. More than 500,000 hold post-graduate degrees. They’re the people who read the New York Times.”

So it’s ironic, to say the least, when legacy journalists, especially those at the New York Times, lament our “information silos” and how divided we are as a nation into different news audiences by political orientation. After all, the national news media made a conscious decision to unsubscribe poor and working-class people. They did not want their business. And they signaled that not through circulation but through content.

Ryan Grim in The Intercept: “It’s Not Just White People: Democrats Are Losing Normal Voters of All Races”:

The anger they felt at Democrats for the commonwealth’s Covid-19 school closure policy became further evidence of a cultural gap between these working people and Democratic elites, who broadly supported prolonged school closures while enjoying the opportunity to work remotely. …One suburban Black woman in his group put it this way: “Our kids should be taught about slavery and all of that awfulness but America is also a good country and that’s what I want my kids to learn.”…Liberals often suggest that parents who are skeptical of the New York Times’s 1619 Project reject the idea of teaching the truth about American history. More often, as with the woman in the focus group, it’s a question of framing rather than truth. Believing or conceding that we as a people are defined by the worst of the past might actually be true, but the concession is seen as cutting off any hope of a better future.

Phil Magness in The Wall Street Journal: “School Choice’s Antiracist History”:

These critics have their history backward. As early as 1955, economists such as Friedman began touting vouchers as a strategy to expedite integration. Virginia’s segregationist hard-liners recognized the likely outcomes and began attacking school choice as an existential threat to their white-supremacist order…The union’s stance intensified after a 1962 Richmond Times-Dispatch survey suggested that tuition-grant transfers into integrated schools, public and private, outnumbered those seeking segregation. “The pupil scholarship program is being so greatly abused as to increasingly defeat its original purpose,” thundered a 1964 editorial in the teachers’ union newsletter. “Parents are using grants to send their children to integrated schools which the entire purpose . . . was to avoid.”

Hal Brands and Michael Beckley in Foreign Policy: “China Is a Declining Power—and That’s the Problem”:

A dissatisfied state has been building its power and expanding its geopolitical horizons. But then the country peaks, perhaps because its economy slows, perhaps because its own assertiveness provokes a coalition of determined rivals, or perhaps because both of these things happen at once. The future starts to look quite forbidding; a sense of imminent danger starts to replace a feeling of limitless possibility. In these circumstances, a revisionist power may act boldly, even aggressively, to grab what it can before it is too late. The most dangerous trajectory in world politics is a long rise followed by the prospect of a sharp decline…

Since the late 2000s, however, the drivers of China’s rise have either stalled or turned around entirely. For example, China is running out of resources: Water has become scarce, and the country is importing more energy and food than any other nation, having ravaged its own natural resources. Economic growth is therefore becoming costlier…China is also approaching a demographic precipice: From 2020 to 2050, it will lose an astounding 200 million working-age adults—a population the size of Nigeria—and gain 200 million senior citizens. The fiscal and economic consequences will be devastating: Current projections suggest China’s medical and social security spending will have to triple as a share of GDP, from 10 percent to 30 percent, by 2050 just to prevent millions of seniors from dying of impoverishment and neglect. To make matters worse, China is turning away from the package of policies that promoted rapid growth…The economic damage these trends are causing is starting to accumulate—and it is compounding the slowdown that would have occurred anyway as a fast-growing economy matures. The Chinese economy has been losing steam for more than a decade.




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