There are plenty of things to hate about the glossy publication that comes inside the massive Sunday edition of the New York Times. For starters, it’s attached to the Times, which any Coast reader knows is leading the corporate right-wing media conspiracy. (Pity those conservatives who think the Times is the official newsletter of the left-wing media conspiracy.) Worse, shipping time means the paper doesn’t arrive in Halifax until Monday or later, wrecking the idea of spending a weekend day devouring 10 kg of reading. Still, week after week The Magazine comes out with a surprising mix of stories that highlights the differences between magazine journalism and the daily grind, and for that it warms the heart. Features in The Magazine have room to explore their subjects with a depth that defies simple left-or-right categorization. And if its editors are slow to ask the hard questions, they are moving faster than the mainstream of mainstream media. The latest issue, September 11, has an illustration of Osama bin Laden on the cover with the headline “Is He Winning?” Mark Danner’s accompanying story is 11,000 words about how screwed the “war on terror” is. An excerpt:
Four years after we watched the towers fall, Americans have not succeeded in “ridding the world of evil.” We have managed to show ourselves, our friends and most of our enemies the limits of American power. Instead of fighting the real war that was thrust upon us on that incomprehensible morning four years ago, we stubbornly insisted on fighting a war of the imagination, an ideological struggle that we defined not by frankly appraising the real enemy before us but by focusing on the mirror of our own obsessions.
In that same issue of The Magazine, “The Ethicist” column confronts townsfolk who want to deny students voting rights because they’re not permanent, tax-paying residents. “Some of the opposition…reflects not principle but power: each student added to the voter roles dilutes the power of every nonstudent resident,” writes Randy Cohen. “So be it.”
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