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Underestimating Readers

May 30, 2023 at 6:34 am

"You've Never Heard of Him, but He's Remaking the Pollution Fight," reads an online New York Times headline over an article about Richard Revesz, "a climate law expert and former dean of the New York University School of Law" who since January has headed the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

"You've never heard of him" is in this case a factually inaccurate New York Times headline, as in the case of Revesz, I not only have heard of him, I sat next to him once at a dinner. The Times seems to be underestimating its readers. Revesz himself had opinion pieces in the Times in 2019 and 2015 and 2012 and is quoted in the newspaper with some frequency. NYU's $5.7 million in loans to Revesz for a West Village townhouse and country home on 65 acres in Litchfield County, Connecticut, were a subject of a front-page news article in the Times in 2013.

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The Times Gets in Bed With Google

May 11, 2023 at 8:49 am

"New York Times to Get Around $100 Million From Google Over Three Years" is the headline over a Wall Street Journal news article amplifying a brief February 6 Times press release ("The New York Times Company and Google Expand Agreement on News and Innovation") to the effect that "The New York Times Company and Google announced an expansion of their collaboration with a multi-year commercial agreement today. The companies will work together on tools for content distribution and subscriptions, using Google tools for marketing, ad product experimentation, and further on Subscribe with Google and Google Ad Manager."

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U.S. Church Closures

April 21, 2023 at 11:19 am

Under the headline, "Lots of Americans Are Losing Their Religion. Are You?" Times newsletter writer Jessica Grose reports:

In their forthcoming book, "Beyond Doubt: The Secularization of Society," the sociologists Isabella Kasselstrand, Phil Zuckerman and Ryan Cragun describe a change in the built environment of St. Louis that is "emblematic" of the ebb of organized religious observance in America. What was once a Gothic-style beauty of a Catholic church built in the 19th century by German immigrants had been turned into a skateboard park.

"In the United States," the authors tell us, "somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 churches close down every year, either to be repurposed as apartments, laundries, laser-tag arenas, or skate parks, or to simply be demolished."

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Deep Red Ohio?

February 23, 2023 at 9:42 am

A news article and photo cutline in Thursday's New York Times refer to Ohio as "a deep-red state that Mr. Trump won in the 2016 and 2020 elections."

It's true that Ohio has been trending more Republican lately, but to call it "deep red" is probably an overstatement. The state still has a Democratic U.S. senator, Sherrod Brown. An October 2021 report from the Ohio Secretary of State on party affiliation data in the state's voter registration database found 947,027 registered Democrats and 836,080 registered Republicans, meaning that Democrats have a voter registration edge in the state. An April 2020 statewide poll by Baldwin Wallace University's Ohio Poll found more Democrats than Republicans, both before and after weighting.

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"Unregulated Free Market Economy"

January 8, 2023 at 8:41 am

An arts section piece on Columbia University's new business school buildings includes this sentence: "Glenn Hubbard, the former business school dean who brought the project to fruition, saw the need to break free from fealty to the unregulated free market economy that over decades has led to extraordinary wealth concentration."

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Ochs-Sulzbergers Fault Justice Thomas for Nepotism

January 2, 2023 at 8:42 am

In the latest development in the Ochs-Sulzberger family's ongoing campaign against nepotism, an opinion column in today's New York Times declares Clarence and Virginia Thomas as the "most egregious Nepo couple." Nepo is short for nepotism. This is really something—a newspaper whose publisher is a fifth-generation member of the family whose trust controls it, denouncing for nepotism, of all people, Clarence Thomas—who lived as a child in a one-room shack in Pin Point, Georgia, with a dirt floor and no plumbing.

From the 2022 New York Times Company proxy statement:

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December 11, 2022 at 3:12 pm

On Thursday, New York Times unionized newsroom employees walked off the job. One feature of the rally in support of their contract demands was participation of the broader labor movement. A representative of the Communications Workers of America proclaimed from the rally stage: "Workers are fed up with corporate greed. The labor movement stands with you. We're all in this together." The president of the New York State AFL-CIO, Mario Cilento, said, "We are a family. The labor movement is family." Representatives of Workers United, representing "newly organized Amazon and Starbucks workers," were at the rally and recognized for their support.

Lo and behold, the Sunday New York Times features two long news articles cheerleading labor organizing campaigns at Starbucks and among food delivery workers in New York City.

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New York Times Sports Gambling Investigation

November 20, 2022 at 9:57 am

A front-page Sunday New York Times article carries the online headline "Cigars, Booze, Money: How a Lobbying Blitz Made Sports Betting Ubiquitous." A sidebar summarizes "Key Findings from The Times' Investigation of Sports Betting."

The investigative journalist explanation that this is all the fault of business buying off politicians breaks down when you realize that people were betting on sports before it became legal, and also that the New York Times has also gotten deep into the business of promoting sports betting, with regular articles such as this one, in the sports section of the same paper that carries the investigation:

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New York Times "Lies" About Private Jet Taxes

November 14, 2022 at 9:02 am

The New York Times has become increasingly strident about labeling as a "lie" false claims about the 2020 election. A front page news article on Saturday, for example, reporting on the victory of a Democratic Senate candidate in Arizona, described the Republican candidate as "a venture capitalist and political newcomer who embraced former President Donald J. Trump's lie that the 2020 election was stolen."

The problem with the "lie" label is that the Times applies it so selectively that it makes the paper appear partisan rather than independent. Contrast it with a Times news article, also in Saturday's print newspaper, reporting that "More than a dozen protesters, including scientists, were arrested on Thursday at private airports in the United States, coinciding with similar actions around the world to highlight the toll of private jets on the environment, activists said."

The Times article concludes with this paragraph:

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Times Drops Pretense of Objectivity as Election Nears

November 7, 2022 at 8:24 am

There's no mistaking which side the New York Times is on in tomorrow's election.

On page A2, under the headline "The Consequences of the Midterms," is a question-and-answer-style interview with Astead Herndon, "a Times national reporter." He explains, "If the U.S. elects lawmakers who spread conspiracy theories and who promise to tear down tenets of democracy, that will embolden autocratic leaders in other countries and weaken the United States' standing in the world."

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British Defense Lawyers Strike

October 12, 2022 at 8:22 am

A New York Times dispatch from London about the end of a five-week strike by criminal defense lawyers manages to go on for 18 paragraphs without saying how much money the lawyers make. We read that the government's offer "raises legal aid payments by 15 percent" and "fell short of the lawyers' demand for a 25 percent raise in legal aid fees." We hear that "some lawyers say criminal defense work remains financially tenuous, leading many barristers to quit for more lucrative practices in commercial or family law." But the percents alone aren't much use without numbers about the base.

The Financial Times does a little better, reporting that the barristers "are self-employed and ... can earn as little as £12,200 in their first three years of work."

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Two Buck Chuck Too Hard to Find For Times Wine Columnist

September 28, 2022 at 8:17 am

A wine column in the New York Times, pegged to the death of Fred Franzia, is headlined "Two-Buck Chuck: Wine of the People or a Cultural Wedge?" The article assesses the Charles Shaw wines sold by Trader Joe's. Wine columnist Eric Asimov writes, "I remember the wine as uninteresting, but I last drank it more than a decade ago. I wanted to try it again, but the line of Charles Shaw wines, which includes numerous variations beyond the original red blend, is sold only at Trader Joe's. The sole Trader Joe's wine shop in New York shut down last month, so I was out of luck."

This is unbelievably lame coming from what purports to be a global news organization, and from a wine columnist who regularly visits Europe. Is it too much work for Asimov to travel to the Trader Joe's in Westfield, New Jersey, to pick up a bottle? Or would it be too difficult for one of the New York Times' many domestic news bureaus to ask a clerk to go fetch a bottle and deliver it to Asimov?

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Two on Yeshivas

September 19, 2022 at 9:27 pm

The Algemeiner has published a couple of columns I wrote about the New York Times coverage of the Jewish day schools known as yeshivas. If you are interested in that topic, please check them out:

Long-Hyped New York Times Investigation of Hasidic Yeshivas Fizzles

New York Times Ups Attack on Hasidic Jews, Publishing Editorial Riddled With Contradictions and Contempt


Times Advises Alcohol as Salve for Sept. 11 Grief, Anxiety

August 8, 2022 at 7:30 am

Today's New York Times features an advice column by a flight attendant responding to reader queries. To the question "I'm terrified to fly since I lost friends on the planes of Sept. 11. Turbulence and the sketchy behavior of other passengers doesn't help. What would you suggest to calm my nerves?" the Times publishes a response that concludes, "A glass of wine may help, too, to help you relax and enjoy the flight."

No suggestion that the reader consult a mental health professional for help with the anxiety issues. Why bother when you can self-medicate with a drink?

It's possible the advice will be harmless for a portion of people, but for plenty of other people, drinking in response to anxiety can make the problem worse and lead to alcoholism. Basically, it's bad advice, and some editor at the Times should have caught it and cut it.


Why It's So Hard to Find an "Affordable" Apartment in New York

August 2, 2022 at 9:14 pm

Under the headline "Why It's So Hard to Find an Affordable Apartment in New York," the New York Times mainly lays the blame on, of all people, Mayor Bloomberg. "Between 2003 and 2007, the Bloomberg administration rezoned nearly one-fifth of the city, according to a 2010 study by the New York University Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. But nearly 90 percent of the lots analyzed in the study had their capacity reduced or only modestly increased," the Times writes. Strangely, the Times doesn't say what happened to the other ten percent of the lots, or break down, in the 90 percent, what portion had their capacity reduced and what portion had their capacity increased. Nor does the Times much grapple with the problem that it could also be hard to find an "affordable" apartment in New York even back in the 2003 to 2007 period, before the Bloomberg-era rezoning on which the Times blames the problem.

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