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Two Usage Errors

September 22, 2023 at 8:23 am

From a New York Times dispatch about succession at Bloomberg: "Mr. Bloomberg has recently set his sites on blocking new petrochemical plants that make fertilizer, plastics and packaging."

Even the Microsoft Word program gives me a double underline to indicate that "sites" should be "sights." It's a disappointment that this sort of thing makes it through the editing process at the New York Times.

Similarly, a recent New York Times article about "The Rabbi Whisperer," who helps rabbis craft and deliver sermons for the High Holidays, reported, "The Talmud, the foundational text of Jewish learning, is full of stories of rabbis putting their heads together to hash out the finer points of Judaic principals." "Principals" there should be "principles."

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White Shirts

August 25, 2023 at 12:04 pm

A front page news analysis of the Republican debate reports, "Across the stage, each of the seven men — whether they were pro-Trump or anti-Trump — wore dark suits, white shirts and red ties. It's a uniform frequently favored by another man. One who wasn't there."

In fact Senator Scott was not wearing a white shirt; his shirt was a pale or sky blue. (A different Times article available online indeed acknowledges that Scott's shirt was "white-ish blue."

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"Distrust in Vital U.S. Institutions"

August 8, 2023 at 9:14 am

"Like Trump, G.O.P. Rivals Feed Distrust in Vital U.S. Institutions" is the front-page headline over an alarmist New York Times news article, warning that "the tenor of the campaign rhetoric has reached new and conspiratorial levels."

To its credit, the article notes low down, briefly, that "Casting doubt on the integrity of government is hardly limited to Republican candidates" and that "President Biden...has mused about his skepticism of the Supreme Court — 'this is not a normal court,' he said after the court's ruling striking down affirmative action in college admissions." Also, "Democrats have far more doubt about the Supreme Court and the police. (There is bipartisan distrust in the criminal justice system, with less than one in four voters expressing confidence in the system.)"

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"Astonishingly High"

August 3, 2023 at 8:47 am

A news article in the New York Times business section about Disney and ESPN reports, "Estimates vary widely, but if ESPN offered its cable channels à la carte, it would most likely have to charge an astonishingly high fee for the streaming service, perhaps $40 or $50 per month, just to maintain its current revenue."

Maybe just tell Times readers the price rather than characterizing it as "high" or "astonishingly high"? The New York Times charges an astonishingly high $86.67 a month for a seven-day-a-week home delivery subscription of its newspaper, which probably provides less entertainment, and more aggravation, than does access to ESPN.

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Misinformation

June 11, 2023 at 8:24 am

"In Chat With Musk, Kennedy Pushes Right-Wing Ideas and Misinformation," was the headline the New York Times put over a recent (June 6, 2023, print newspaper) news article about Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Elon Musk. It said, in part, "On Monday, Mr. Kennedy repeated a host of false statements, among them:...He claimed, without evidence, that 'Covid was clearly a bioweapons problem.' American intelligence agencies do not believe there is any evidence indicating that is the case."

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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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Solidarity?

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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