Search Results for: The-New-York-Times

Does A.G. Sulzberger Even Understand What a Public Editor Is?

(Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images)

Last year The New York Times announced it was ending the public editor — a role created to help readers get accountability from the paper of record in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal in 2003 — and replacing it with the Reader Center.

Ever since, readers of the Times have lamented the loss whenever an article or op-ed comes out that draws consternation. The paper’s final public editor, Liz Spayd, was less than beloved, but her predecessor Margaret Sullivan, now a media columnist at The Washington Post, earned the respect not just of readers, but of those inside the Times newsroom.

A friend at the Times recently asked me what I thought of the Reader Center. I replied that I didn’t know it had been set up or even what it did. I’m a home delivery subscriber to the Times, a native New Yorker who grew up writing detailed letters of admiration to Times reporters. Why hadn’t I heard about what the Reader Center had been up to? Read more…

How We Write About the Nazis Next Door

Protestors rally against white supremacy and racism on August 13, 2017 after Heather Heyer, 32, was killed by a white supremacist in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

On Saturday, The New York Times published Richard Fausset’s “A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland,” a profile of “the Nazi sympathizer next door.” Readers were quick to call the piece indefensible:

The Times removed a direct link to purchase a swastika armband that was placed in the article, but otherwise stood by Fausset’s story.

After Twitter exploded, the Times tapped national editor Marc Lacey to respond. (This time last year Liz Spayd would have replied as the Times’ Public Editor, but the paper eliminated her position this summer, replacing it with a more amorphous Reader Center.) “The point of the story was not to normalize anything,” Lacey writes, “but to describe the degree to which hate and extremism have become far more normal in American life than many of us want to think.” Read more…

When Op-Eds Relitigate Facts

Bret Stephens’s first Op-Ed column for The New York Times.

What year were we taught the difference between facts and opinions in grade school? Was it an election year?

To review: The bar for an opinion is low. The bar for a fact is higher. Statements of fact need to be verifiable, substantiated, and proven. An opinion doesn’t need to meet any standards at all. The bar for what constitutes an opinion — sans corroboration, sans evidence, sans proof — is, indeed, low. The bar for who will listen to it is somewhere else.

A published opinion doesn’t need to meet any particular standard, either, other than an editor deeming an opinion piece worthy of publication. In opinion journalism, the publisher sets the bar. And no publisher’s bar placement comes under more scrutiny than The New York Times’.

At Splinter, David Uberti asks: “Who Is The New York Times‘ Woeful Opinion Section Even For?” If the paper of record is to remain any kind of standard-bearer in our current political moment, what should its opinion section look like? How rigorous should its standards be? Uberti advocates for raising the bar, preferably one or two notches above the denial of facts that have been painstakingly reported on the other side of the Times‘ news-opinion firewall:

In his initial column, in late April, Stephens questioned the predictions about the effects of climate change that the Times has reported on extensively. This slickly branded “climate agnostic” approach stuck a finger in the eye of both the Times’s readership and its newsroom. It risked mimicking the pundit-reporter dynamic seen at CNN, where in-house bloviators are paid to spout opinions that at times directly contradict the network’s own news reporting. Bennet defended the column as part of a “free exchange of ideas,” in what Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple described as a “Boilerplate Kumbaya Response to Public Outrage.”

The op-ed page—opposite of the editorial page—was unveiled by the Times in 1970 to foster a true “conflict of ideas,” as onetime Editorial Page Editor John B. Oakes put it. Points of view clashing with the Times’ institutional perspective or biases would be especially welcome. Names floated as potential contributors ranged from Communists to members of the John Birch Society.

“They really wanted diversity when they came out—they really prized it,” said University of Maine media scholar Michael Socolow, who authored a 2010 paper on the origins of the op-ed page. Its debut contributors included a staff column on the need for super-sonic air travel; a Chinese novelist describing Beijing during the Cultural Revolution; a political scientist and former LBJ aide analyzing U.S. policy in Asia; and a New Republic contributing editor slamming Vice President Spiro Agnew. It was a radical expansion of the Times’s opinion offerings that other newspapers soon emulated, and it hasn’t fundamentally changed since then besides expanded publishing space and formats online.

“In general, we’re looking to challenge our own and our readers’ assumptions, and, we hope, put people who disagree on important questions into conversation with each other in order to sharpen everyone’s thinking,” Bennet wrote to Splinter.

Some recent attempts to do so, however, seemed to trade intellectual rigor or true diversity for the appearance thereof.

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Alexandra Petri Is The Only Op-Ed Columnist America Needs Right Now

Alexandra Petri

Hamilton Nolan at Deadspin destroyed the entire New York Times opinion page this week after the paper published a limp musing by Frank Bruni on Trump’s well-done steaks. (“When did we turn into such food snobs here in America, land of the free and home of the Bloomin’ Onion?”) Nolan concludes that more than 80 percent of Times columnists aren’t equipped to properly respond to the sheer brokenness of America. I won’t quibble over who Nolan likes and dislikes, as this is not just a problem with the New York Times. I spend many mornings screaming at my radio while NPR tries to lull me back into business as usual with its warm and soothing commuter-friendly tones. I don’t want All Things Considered, I want Some Things Rejected Outright. Read more…

Longreads Best of 2016: Food Writing

We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in various categories. Here, the best in food writing.

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Rachel Khong
Former executive editor at Lucky Peach magazine; author of the novel, Goodbye, Vitamin, forthcoming in July 2017, and the cookbook, All About Eggs.

Citizen Khan (Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker)

I would read anything by Kathryn Schulz, and this story makes a perfect case why. Ostensibly it’s the story of a man named Zarif Khan, who in 1909 found his way to Wyoming from the Khyber Pass, and made a name for himself selling tamales (the name: “Hot Tamale Louie”). Khan was a recognizably curmudgeonly chef (God forbid you put ketchup on his burgers!) of the sort writers reliably profile today. But “profile” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what this goosebump-inducing story is. Woven into this tale are captivating tangents—about Wyoming’s inclusive beginnings, the various histories of naturalization (and denaturalization), tamales, and Muslims in this country (a history that goes back so much further than Trump would have you believe)—that turn out not to be tangents at all: the heart of this story about tamales and burgers is a story about America, and the immigrants that make it. In Schulz’s hands it’s skilled and quietly hilarious. The story felt fitting when it was published in June; it feels even more essential now.

At Tampa Bay Farm-to-Table Restaurants, You’re Being Fed Fiction (Laura Reiley, Tampa Bay Times)

I read this story about food fraud slack-jawed. Laura Reiley’s basic premise is this: when you go to a restaurant advertising “local” or “farm to table,” it’s not only possible but highly likely(!) you’re being lied to. Years of working in restaurant criticism made Reiley rightly skeptical of menu claims, and suspicious that more was afoot than frozen cakes passed off as homemade. For her story she systematically investigates restaurants in the Tampa area that make declarations about their ingredients—sometimes embarrassingly high-mindedly—that they don’t exactly see through. A lot impresses me here, like Reiley’s persistence, guts, attentiveness, commitment, and spy moves (she kept ziptop baggies her purse to secrete away fish to lab-test later). The piece’s focus is on restaurants in Tampa, but it makes a broader statement about our convoluted food supply chains, and what it means to be an eater and consumer living in our increasingly weird world. Read more…

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.

Sign up to receive this list free every Friday in your inbox.

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State of the #Longreads, 2014

Lately there has been some angst about the state of longform journalism on the Internet. So I thought I’d share some quick data on what we’ve seen within the Longreads community: Read more…

Heirs, Heiresses and Inheriting a Company

America is not kind to the heir. He is a stereotypical figure in our literature, and not an appealing one at that. He tends to be depicted as weak, pampered, flawed, a diluted strain of the hardy founding stock. America celebrates the self-made. Unless an heir veers sharply from his father’s path, he is not taken seriously. Even in middle age he seems costumed, a pretender draped in oversize clothes, a boy who has raided his father’s closet. The depiction may be unfair, but it is what it is.

But Arthur wasn’t just born to his position—the story is more complicated. He may have been the firstborn son in the line of succession, but he also staked his claim to the crown deliberately and dramatically, when he was only 14 years old. His mother, Barbara Grant, and Punch Sulzberger divorced when Arthur was just five. He lived throughout his early childhood on the Upper East Side with his mother and her new husband, David Christy, a warm and supportive stepfather. Punch is nominally Jewish, although not at all religious, while his son was raised Episcopalian. Arthur senior and Arthur junior were not close: Punch was generally aloof, even when Arthur was around. Yet, understanding what his famous name meant, and who his distant father actually was in the world, he packed up his things and moved himself the half-mile to his father’s home on Fifth Avenue, to live with Punch and his stepmother and their daughters. He was not pulled by any strong emotional connection. It seemed more like a career move. His biological father and his stepmother were wealthy, socially connected, and powerful; his biological mother and his stepfather were not. Arthur opted for privilege and opportunity. That his stepmother, Carol Sulzberger, despised Arthur—she would stick out her tongue at pictures of him—did not seem to matter. He was Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., and showing up on his father’s doorstep was a way of asserting, consciously or not, that when Punch changed wives he had not washed his hands of an obligation to his son. While the inheritance was his by birth, it was also very much Arthur’s choice.

From Mark Bowden’s 2009 Vanity Fair profile of fourth-generation New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.

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NYT in the Longreads Archive

Photo: jamescridland

“Somehow Anthony is blaming me and my 8,000-word story for the fact that everything turned to shit for him. I wish I knew if there was a word for all this. There’s probably a German word for it. And maybe I am naïve, but I am telling you that when you spend so many hours with somebody, you really do feel like you get a sense of who they are, and you make decisions based on that.”

A look inside the making of (and fallout from) a magazine profile, featuring Anthony Weiner, the New York Times Magazine and GQ.

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