No, I will not sign a petition against the New York Post

It’s suddenly the season to bash the New York Post. No longer are we railing against the New York Times. It used to be that the Post was the one secular newspaper we were allowed to read, if any – not anymore, not now.

Just this morning I was asked by several people to sign a petition against the Post for its alleged anti-Semitic headline regarding Menachem Stark who was murdered and his body found burned in a dumpster. When asked by a reporter if the police had any leads one of the detectives on the case supposedly replied “Who didn’t want him dead?” In the Post’s style of tabloid, shock journalism that one sentence became the headline on its front page. It was not, however, the tone of the actual article which was not much different from the tone of the report in the New York Times or the Daily News in their coverage of this terrible tragedy. Apparently most of those who had business dealings with the deceased had serious complaints against him. It is also important to note that the three newspapers used different reporters citing different sources all had the same result reporting the same findings. Of course this does not justify murder. And, of course the deceased also gave to charity. But his generous contributions do not negate questionable business dealings, which is also beside the point.

Also beside the point is the Yeshiva World News attempted defamation of one of the reporters that the New York Post tapped as a consultant. The YWN implied that particular reporter is anti-Orthodox and a basher of Chasidim, none of which is accurate. They accused the reporter of defaming an innocent victim “his family and an entire community” again, none of which is true. The reporter has been a driving force against the covering up of childhood abuse and sexual abuse by certain sectors within our community. Perhaps YWN should look at its own tabloid style.

When I was asked to sign the petition against the NY Post I wondered what the goal of such a petition might be. So I asked.

“They have to apologize,” I was told.

“No they don’t” I responded.

Should Elliot Spitzer ask for an apology because they did a front page on his behavior in a hot tub? How about their story regarding the impending firing of Rex Ryan as coach when in fact he is still the coach of the Jets football team? Then there is the cover that in the boldest font possible says one word “Screwed” about a group of firefighters and police caught taking government benefits disability that they did not deserve or need. There is also a cover where the Post refers to President Obama’s programs as “an unmitigated disaster.” You can peruse the front and back page covers of the New York Post by clicking a link on their website. If you take just a few minutes to do so you will find that the cover they used in this terrible tragedy is very much in keeping with their inimitable style of shock journalism. It appeals to their readership. It is not anti anything, or maybe it is anti everything but it is their style.

This brings me to the point. I can choose to read any newspaper I wish and so can you. If I have a problem with a particular papers tabloid and/or reporting style or substance I can choose not to read that paper. I really do not need a petition for that. I also do not need to be told that the only tabloid that is acceptable is the one being pushed by a particular group of people. Perhaps that is why I try to read more than one newspaper every day. In psychological research design and statistics there is a concept known as “Multi-trait, Multi-method.” This model suggests if you want to get the most accurate research results with the most credibility and generalizability you would do well to test a theory using more than one approach done in different ways. If you get the same result regardless of how it was measured the odds of accuracy are significantly increased. For those with a gripe against the Post or any newspaper I can only suggest you first understand a little of what sells newspapers and more importantly read more than one.

About the Author
Dr Michael Salamon, is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and a 2018 APA Presidential Citation Awardee. He is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York and the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications) and "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America). His newest book is called "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."