The lead editorial in today's New York Times calls for passage of marijuana legalization measures in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia, describing the drug as "far less dangerous than alcohol" and denouncing "harsh criminal penalties."
Meanwhile, over in reality — I mean, the sports section — a "news analysis" of swimmer Michael Phelps entering a six-week inpatient alcohol rehabilitation program after being arrested and charged with driving under the influence reports:
The lead news article in today's Times is a profile of the Dallas Ebola victim. It carries the byline of two-time Pulitzer-prize winner Kevin Sack, and it also carries some pretty compelling and fascinating reporting. Alas, it also carries a real clunker of a sentence that some editor should have caught and fixed: "Tragedy befell Ms. Troh in February when a daughter in Liberia died during childbirth."
Yikes. Can't Times readers be counted on to react with the appropriate emotion to the news of a death during childbirth without being clobbered over the head with notification that it is a "tragedy"? And who communicates in this passive-voice, non-idiomatic language — "Tragedy befell" — other than journalists?
"Hong Kong Protests Are Leaderless But Orderly" — Headline, page one, New York Times, October 1, 2014
"Joshua Wong Emerges as Unlikely Teenage Leader in Hong Kong Protests" — Headline, New York Times website, October 1, 2014
It's hard to see how both of these headlines can be accurate. The second story doesn't claim that Mr. Wong became the leader of the protests in the past 12 hours. How can the protests simultaneously have been leaderless and led by Joshua Wong? Both articles carry the byline of Times reporter Chris Buckley.
A fashion review in the Times begins as follows:
"Vets Face Rising Worry Over Fleas" is the headline over a Times article on the front of the Science section. This struck me as a less-than-good headline for several reasons. First, I thought it was about military veterans. Then, once I realized that the headline was about veterinarians, it once again seemed inapt, because the ones worried about fleas are the pets and the pet-owners, not the veterinarians. Maybe the veterinarians are the ones "facing" the rising worry of the pet-owners, but the veterinarians interviewed in the Times article all seemed pretty calm.
Some recent Times-related writing of note from other publications:
In Salon, Daisy Hernandez has a first-person account of her experiences as an intern at the New York Times editorial page and on its metropolitan desk.
At Medium, Felix Salmon has a piece headlined "Annals of NYT Innumeracy, Bank Rossiya Edition."
David Brooks has been writing some fine columns lately, but today he writes about something that I know quite a bit about — the American Revolution — and he stumbles. He writes:
When the New York Times reported on the cancer surgery of its executive editor, Dean Baquet, the newspaper told readers that Mr. Baquet "had a malignant tumor removed from his kidney." It quoted Mr. Baquet describing the procedure as "minimally invasive."
Now Women's Wear Daily, in a feature article about Mr. Baquet, reports that the surgical procedure, at Lenox Hill Hospital (a detail the Times omitted) was to "remove the kidney altogether."
The Times reports that Harvard University Press's Loeb Classical Library is going digital "on a fee basis."
What's the fee? The Times article doesn't say, though the HUP web site says pricing is "tiered by size of institution," and that the set is available to individuals for a fee of $195 for the first year and $65 "for subsequent consecutive years."
While the Times doesn't report the pricing, it does devote two sentences to the news that:
Joe Nocera has a column about the Home Depot customer data breach that is worth noticing for at least two reasons.
First, he engages in what Times public editor Margaret Sullivan has called, in other instances, "anonymous outsourcing," borrowing another news organization's anonymously sourced material and passing it along to Times readers without independently assessing the veracity of the sources. Mr. Nocera writes:
Reader-contributor-watchdog-content co-creator-participant-community member Arul Louis writes:
A sports column by Richard Sandomir carries the following passage:
An article in Sunday's Times explains helpfully, "Not all fashion designers are gay; however, a large proportion are, and a fair number of their customers are, too."
News you can use.
A dispatch from Gaza City about an apartment building destroyed in this summer's war could have used a more careful edit.
The article reports: "Atef Adwan, one of 28 Hamas lawmakers elected in 2006, bought a first-floor apartment five years ago for his second wife, and spent much of the summer there with her and their two young sons, fearing the Israelis would target his home in the border town of Beit Hanoun."
The phrase "his second wife" raises more questions than it answers. Does Mr. Adwan have two wives at the same time? Or is the apartment for his sole current wife, in which case, why does the Times feel the need to mention that he had a prior marriage?
Then there is a reference to "Owda J. Abu Mathkour, the wealthy mogul who runs the Zafer contracting company." Isn't "wealthy mogul" redundant? Call the squad squad, as William Safire used to say.
A Times review of a movie, "The Green Prince," about a friendship between a Mossad officer and the son of a Hamas leader, reports, "It was released in Israel this spring, as the latest American effort to put together a regional peace plan was falling apart, and is coming out here after a summer-long conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza that left more than 2,000 dead and thousands more wounded or homeless."
Describing the summer-long conflict as "between Israel and Hamas in Gaza" inaccurately suggests that the conflict was confined to Gaza. In fact, it also affected parts of Israel, as reporting elsewhere in the Times has made clear. An editor should have deleted the words "in Gaza."
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