I had picked up a copy of “On Tyranny” before the semester had started because Timothy Snyder had been making his rounds on various media platforms–Bill Maher’s show in particular. However, it was when Snyder had made an appearance on Sam Harris’ Waking Up podcast that I had decided to go out and grab a copy of my own. Despite its size, this concise little book held quite a bit of intellectual heft. In particular, my favorite section involves messages about “subsidizing” journalism and spending time with long-form journalism:
“9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Learn about sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.”
In an age where any moron with access to the internet and Photoshop can take information and transform it to the point where the Earth can appear flat or that the skies are streaked with chemtrails, seeking out and supporting news media outlets that have a track record of impeccable journalism is of great importance. Moreover, finding journalists that are dedicated to the telling of truth in the same way that suicide bombers are dedicated to their religion is important. This makes me miss figures of the media like Christopher Hitchens, somebody whom you could trust to provide accurate media coverage, sans propaganda. (Douglas Murray might be one of the few candidates for taking Hitch’s place). That being said, there are more than a few outlets that are deserving of subsidization from the public–The New Yorker is a particular favorite of mine along with Foreign Affairs, Vanity Fair, The Spectator, all of whom provide excellent long-form journalism pieces.
In an age where conservatives (not only the child-like billionaire would-be autocrats that they seem to levitate toward) decry everything as fake news, we should impress on those who wish to have the privilege of reporting the daily news the importance of their jobs. Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press, if anything, are two of the most important characteristics of a democracy.