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THE NEW YORK TIMES is in hot water for its terrible coverage of trans issues, and also for its terrible response to the outcry against its terrible coverage. But the really scary thing about this whole fiasco is how few news organizations documented the Times’s failures themselves, or sought to hold the paper to account.
The fragility of the real free press is a no joke emergency. Those in power are increasingly able to shove whatever media they want down people’s throats, unchecked, with fewer and fewer able to push back against them.
At Popula on January 29th, Tom Scocca published a groundbreaking condemnation of the Times’s coverage of health care for trans kids; his piece was subsequently cited at Nieman Journalism Lab, Papermag, Hell Gate, Assigned Media and a lot of other places. Many publications, including the open letter sponsored by the Freelance Solidarity Project, failed to name the author of the piece, or the outlet in which it appeared. That is to be regretted. Independent news sources like Popula need recognition, which translates into material support for this difficult work.
Scocca told me once, with reference to Gawker, where he used to write, that “Gawker was a place where it was safe to say something true about bad things that had been reported about famous and powerful people.”
Support our work if you can, is what I’m saying.
On a related note, Michael Kolawole wrote on Music as Dissent in Tunde Kelani’s Film ‘Saworoide’, a film in which power’s corrupt overreach is cut short—though not by the free press, in this case, but rather by the skill of a musician and his magical drum.
Also at Popula, Sarah Lawrence professor Brian Morton shared the politics and passion of teaching fiction to undergraduates, in a new Syllabiology column; as elections approach in Nigeria, Adebayo Abdulrahman explains the newly energized young voters’ embrace of Peter Obi; and we revisit SPY Magazine’s famous 1988 cover of Donald Trump.
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