Goodbye to Newsweek
Last week, I canceled my subscription to Newsweek. I have been a subscriber for years and years. We used to read it in my home growing up, along with TIME, and I have taken it for ever. Magazine-wise, I currently subscribe to TIME, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, and Christianity Today.
I have noticed of late that the reporting in the magazine has been on a slide. I don't mind opinion, but Newsweek's coverage was getting pretty one-sided. And then, last week, they dumped a huge load of garbage in my mailbox.
Lisa Miller, the religion editor, wrote a cover story on gay marriage and the Bible. That sounds like a good topic, and it is one. Given the nature of the magazine, I assumed that the article would be in favor of gay marriage. I thought it would report on the various sides of the issue, perhaps interview some theologians, and quote some passages of scripture. I was sure it would present an opinion, but it would do so in a reasonable fashion.
I was wrong. The article is an absolute diatribe. To say it mis-characterizes the Bible and the normative Christian position on marriage would be to put it mildly. It is more than one-sided. It is misinformed and misinforming. It is propaganda.
This is not simply about the fact that I disagree with Lisa Miller's conclusion that the Bible says nothing that opposes gay marriage, but actually supports gay marriage. I am happy to read honest and reasonable journalism that disagrees with me on this and other issues. But this was neither honest nor reasonable. It was angry and uninformed. Some may ask me for a point by point refutation of what she wrote, but I won't do that. I would frankly find it exhausting to try to engage that specifically with her material. If you want to read a more impassioned and specific take on Ms. Millers's piece, you can go here.
In any case, I felt like the piece violated the social contract between me and Newsweek. I give them money, I expect professional content. That did not happen. I went on-line where I read some of what the editor-in-chief has written in defense of the cover story. Essentially, he is saying he doesn't respect the opinions of anyone who disagrees with the piece, and he doesn't care if they read his magazine or not. Fair enough.
When I read a news piece, I have to take the journalist at their word. I've never been to Iraq, I've never spoken to a President or Senator, I don't know much about economics. When I read a story, I have to believe that the writer has done their research, and they are presenting well-informed information. I don't expect complete objectivity, but I do expect fact-checking.
But here is a cover story about something I happen to know a great deal about: the Bible. But it seems that the writer has never read the Bible, or has read only tiny bits of it. I actually sat there wondering of Newsweek still has a fact-checker on staff.
When I read a story about something I am very familiar with, and the story is so wildly distorted, it makes me question the entire news organization. If they can't get this right, what else are they wrong about? War, the economy, politics, culture? Where else are they just making stuff up?
For that reason, Newsweek has lost credibility with me. I don't trust Lisa Miller, and I don't trust her Editor-in-Chief. For this reason, I don't feel like I can pay them for their magazine anymore.
Maybe some day Newsweek will hire a new senior editor and a new religion editor. Maybe some day it will go back to being a news magazine, rather than an opinion magazine. Until that happens, I will simply have to get my news from more respectable sources like the New York Times, TIME, CNN, NPR, and the Associated Press.