Washington Post Offer Gives Journal Readers Opportunity for Different World View

June 20th, 2014 · No Comments · energy policy, environment, journalism

By Denise Tessier

I’d like to dovetail with the most recent post by my colleague, Arthur Alpert, and concur that I, too, was impressed with the Albuquerque Journal’s announcement that its subscribers would get the added bonus of “free access to the Washington Post online.”

First, however, I must sidetrack to note that 10 days after the Journal’s offer I still haven’t been able to access the free subscription, despite talking to three helpful people at the Journal last Friday (June 13) – each of whom said I’d be sent a link – and despite following up with an email to customer service to ensure they had the right address. There’s no way to access the subscription to the Post online –the Journal web site’s box announcing the deal leads only to what looks like a scanned copy of the little blurb that appeared in the paper June 11.

That said, Arthur was spot on in pointing out the chasm – he called it the Taos Gorge – between the ideological tones of the Journal and the Washington Post. This is what makes the offer a great deal for Journal readers, who can now avail themselves of a major news and editorial alternative at no additional expense (once the offer actually materializes). In doing so, they will get a better view of the realities related to national issues such as the Affordable Care Act and climate change.

Ideally, the cooperative venture between the Journal and the Post will make it easy for readers to hop over to the Post site for that other view. (Like many online newspapers, the Washington Post cuts off non-subscriber viewing after a limited number of articles, at which time a pay box pops up with subscription terms.)

Make no mistake, it’s still worthwhile — imperative even — for readers to check out the local alternatives – including the New Mexico Mercury, Santa Fe New Mexican, and what has evolved into a valuable news-tracker type feature at the New Mexico Telegram (sign up for daily emails of the Morning Word and be directed to a wealth of New Mexico-related stories from all over the state).

But what’s significant about the Washington Post offer is that it avails regular Journal readers of the stories and editorial opinions of a full-fledged news operation, with a full editorial board and close access to D.C. politics, one that comes up with observations and editorial opinions in direct contrast to the Journal’s worldview.

An example is the Post’s treatment of the topic of climate change.

The Albuquerque Journal has consistently questioned the need for action on climate change in its unsigned, “official position of the paper” editorials, and reacted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon reduction regulation proposal earlier this month with another editorial repeating the trope that regulation is too costly and that the Obama administration is going too far (“Don’t expect emission changes to be painless,” June 7).

In contrast, the Washington Post editorial on that news story was headlined “The EPA’s emissions plan should be just the beginning” (June 2) and led with this:

The Obama administration has finally rolled out its centerpiece climate change policy. It is a praiseworthy, solid step, taken in the face of withering opposition. Even so, it is not enough.

It was the latest in a long line of Post editorials recognizing the seriousness of climate change.

States and cities must act now on climate change” was the headline on a Post editorial May 6.

The new IPCC report shows that work to limit climate change must begin now” was the headline April 5, atop an editorial that said:

Humans are having a hard enough time coping with the natural variability in our environment, which causes disasters such as heat waves, wildfires and floods. Just wait until climate change makes all three of those problems — and many more — worse.

That was the stern warning from the world’s scientific community last week, in the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). . . . It isn’t encouraging.

And unlike the Journal, the Post gets to this point (emphasis added):

A more rational Washington wouldn’t have needed this (IPCC) document to formulate a better plan for handling the many risks; that would have happened long ago. It’s a measure of the country’s dysfunctional debate on global warming — primarily the fault of Republican cynicism or senselessness — that many lawmakers want no such plan and will ignore this document, as they have many before it.

Far from being a bastion of “liberal” thought, however, the Post has also used climate change as a reason for urging New York state environmentalists and citizens to reconsider their opposition to fracking, as it did last October with “The other side of the fracking fight,” which said:

Those who would ban fracking or regulate it into oblivion ignore the exceptional benefits that inexpensive natural gas can provide in the biggest environmental fight of our time — against climate change.

The editorial continued:

We are in no position to judge what combination of politics and legal judgment pushed New York toward this latest delay, and we’re all for making sure that fracking is safe. . . .

But anti-fracking activists who hope delay begets delay and eventually prohibition are doing the environment no favor. Burning natural gas produces only about half the carbon emissions as burning coal, which produced 42 percent of America’s electricity in 2011. With the increasingly common use of fracking, natural gas prices have plummeted, encouraging a switch from coal to gas, and the country’s emissions trajectory has improved.

. . . natural gas can play a big role in transitioning to cleaner energy cheaply. . . .

Environmentalists, in other words, should hope fracking is safe — and permitted.

In a more recent example related to the oil industry (June 8), the Post expressed concern about the Bureau of Land Management’s inability to keep up with oil site inspections during the current oil drilling boom, weighing in with the editorial “Increased fracking without increased inspections puts the environment at risk”.

The Albuquerque Journal published the Associated Press news story that had revealed the inspection delay problem, but buried the story in the back of the paper with the legal ads (“BLM can’t keep up with new oil wells,” June 17) and it has yet to comment with an editorial.

In terms of the Washington Post’s opinion pieces, Arthur has already ably pointed out that the editors at the Albuquerque Journal select WP material “that doesn’t contradict the Journal’s narrative,” pointing out that they consistently have “ignored outstanding reporters and opinion writers like (Ezra) Klein, (Sarah) Kliff, (Walter) Pincus and (Allan) Sloan.”

(Speaking of Klein, who left the Washington Post to found the online news site Vox: Vox this past week published an extraordinary set of maps and narratives that explains what is going on today in Iraq, the Middle East and beyond.  View it here.)

What the Journal does use regularly is conservative Washington Post columnists like George Will and Charles Krauthammer – both under criticism as  climate change attackersthe former of whom has come under fire and scathing criticism and even cancelled by at least one newspaper for his recent column on college campus rapes.

The Will piece that led the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to discontinue using his column asserted that programs designed to address the problem of college campus rape were actually encouraging women to claim they had been raped, with Will saying, “when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.”

The Post-Dispatch explained its decision to drop Will entirely in a note to readers:

The change has been under consideration for several months, but a column published June 5, in which Mr. Will suggested that sexual assault victims on college campuses enjoy a privileged status, made the decision easier. The column was offensive and inaccurate; we apologize for publishing it.

According to the Washington Post, the Post-Dispatch was the only paper to cancel Will’s subscription since publication of the column. The blog post said Will’s columns are now used by 475 papers instead of 476.

Will’s controversial column ran in the Washington Post under the headline “Colleges become the victims of progressivism” and as of this writing, was the fourth most-viewed opinion piece in the paper. To its credit, the Journal did not run that column.

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