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Juxtaposition of the Week

June 29, 2015 at 9:54 am

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"Is Greater Focus on the Superrich Right for the Times?" headline, "Public Editor's Journal," June 25, 2015.

"Finding the Right Fit for Flying Private," headline, Times business section, June 26, 2015 (over an article about whether chartering, a jet card, or fractional ownership is the best alternative).

"The McLaren 650S Spider Is a $280,000 Thrill Ride," headline, Times auto review, June 26, 2015.

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Quote of the Day

June 29, 2015 at 9:33 am

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From Times public editor Margaret Sullivan's Sunday column, about books by New York Times journalists, comes this gem from New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal: "It's tricky. Books are inherently a commercial enterprise."

That made me laugh for two reasons. First, books are not inherently a commercial enterprise. There are plenty of non-profit publishers, including Encounter Books, the Jewish Publication Society, Beacon Press, Nation Books, and just about every university press, including Harvard University Press (publishers of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century) and Yale University Press. And even at for-profit publishers, plenty of editors are motivated not only by a desire for profit but also by other desires, such as literary excellence.

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Home and Hone

June 29, 2015 at 9:25 am

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My print edition of the Times carried a front page news article about the end of the hunt for two men who had escaped from a maximum security prison in upstate New York. It included this sentence: "They found shelter in empty hunting cabins, but left telltale clues of their presence that helped a vast array of agencies — from the State Police to the United States Marshals to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to state Forest Rangers — hone in on them over the last week."

That sent me to the Times archives in search of a May 25, 1980 "On Language" column by William Safire, who wrote, "The phrase 'to hone in on' is a mistake. The confusion is based on 'to home in,' or 'to home in on' ..."

According to the website Newsdiffs.org, sometime between 9:17 pm and 10:50 pm some astute Timesman or Timeswoman caught the mistake and fixed it by changing the 'n" in "hone" to an "m" in "home."

 

The Label Giveaway

June 25, 2015 at 8:19 am

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One way the Times reveals its biases is with the political labels it applies to others. One recent Times story referred to Judge Robert Bork as "an ultraconservative." Wouldn't it have been sufficient simply to describe him as conservative? Then a Times news article by David Sanger, who actually has been providing some strong and appropriately skeptical coverage of the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, referred to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as "a conservative think tank." That erroneous description was deleted in later versions of the story, according to the website newsdiffs.org, which tracks such changes. At least they didn't call the Washington Institute "ultraconservative." David Bernstein points out that the description "ultraliberal" appears rarely, if ever, in Times news copy outside quotation marks.

 

The Inequality Beat

June 25, 2015 at 8:08 am

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A Times Company press release carries a memo from the executive editor, Dean Baquet:

After a dozen remarkable years as chief television critic, Alessandra Stanley has decided to return to reporting. As part of The Times's deepening focus on economic inequality in America, she will be creating a new beat: an interdisciplinary look at the way the richest of the rich — the top 1 percent of the 1 percent — are influencing, indeed rewiring, the nation's institutions, including universities, philanthropies, museums, sports franchises and, of course, political parties and government.

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Enigma Data Mining

June 23, 2015 at 9:40 am

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The Times business section carries a news article about a data analysis business called Enigma. The article includes this passage:

Enigma is embarking on a sizable expansion, planning to nearly double its staff to 60 people by the end of the year. The growth will be fueled by a $28.2 million round of venture funding, led by New Enterprise Associates, that will be announced on Tuesday. (The New York Times Company is among the investors.)

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Rosenthal Responds

June 19, 2015 at 8:18 am

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Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal gives an interview to the Forward with his different view of the phone conversation he had with Michael Oren, who was then Israel's ambassador to the United States.

 

Oren Versus Rosenthal

June 18, 2015 at 9:53 am

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Over at Commentary, John Podhoretz does a good job of noticing a section in Michael Oren's new book, Ally, reporting on a phone call between Mr. Oren, then Israel's ambassador in Washington, and Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor of the New York Times. Mr. Rosenthal doesn't come out looking too good. Update: Mr. Rosenthal has responded here.

 

SmarterTimes in the Times

June 16, 2015 at 9:52 am

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The Times public editor, Margaret Sullivan, devoted her Sunday print column to the overkill coverage in the Times of the Primates of Park Avenue book by Wednesday Martin. Ms. Sullivan included a nice mention (though no hyperlink, alas) of "Ira Stoll on the Smartertimes website."

 

Naomi Oreskes

June 16, 2015 at 9:51 am

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The science section of the Times features a long and admiring profile of Naomi Oreskes, a professor at Harvard. My former colleague Blake Eskin points out on Twitter that her brother, Michael Oreskes, did a long stint as an editor at the Times. The newspaper had plenty of room to disclose that to readers, but apparently chose not to.

 

Republican Causes

June 12, 2015 at 9:36 am

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Under the headline, "Republicans Tie Their Favorite Causes to the Trade Agreement," the Times reports on the front of its business section:

With a final House showdown coming on Friday on President Obama's push for accelerated power to pursue a sweeping trade agreement, the vote brokering has begun — and it is all tilting to the right.

For Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, there is language promising that no trade deals can compel the United States to address climate change. For anti-immigrant firebrand Steve King, Republican of Iowa, another provision would prohibit future trade deals from loosening immigration laws or expanding visa access.

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Primates of Park Avenue, Again

June 12, 2015 at 9:25 am

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Add an eighth article to the seven that the Times has already published touting Wednesday Martin's book Primates of Park Avenue.

 

Mercedes Plugs

June 12, 2015 at 9:12 am

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Reviewing the movie "Jurassic World," Times critic Manohla Dargis complains, "There are so many plugs for Mercedes that you may wonder if the targeted viewers are studio executives." It's an oddly un-self-aware criticism, coming from the same newspaper that in just the past ten days has featured an interview with the head of research and technology at Mercedes-Benz Research and Development in Sunnyvale, Calif., a review of the Mercedes GLA250, which, as tested by the Times, had a sticker price of $45,505, and a third article that began:

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Rubio's Finances

June 10, 2015 at 1:57 pm

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The Times look at Marco Rubio's personal family finances — the presidential candidate cashed in his retirement account and mistakenly used a Republican Party credit card to pay for personal expenses — was, to my mind, newsworthy, but marred by a couple of flaws that have been well marked already by other outlets. The Washington Free Beacon reports that a financial adviser that the Times had review Senator Rubio's financial disclosure documents turns out to be an Obama campaign donor, a fact the Times doesn't disclose as it quotes the adviser disparaging Mr. Rubio's practices. And Politico reports that the $80,000 vessel the Times describes as a "luxury speedboat" is in fact a not-so-glamorous fishing boat.

 

More Primates of Park Ave.

June 8, 2015 at 9:27 am

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As if the extensive coverage the Times has already given to Wednesday Martin's book Primates of Park Avenue weren't enough, the newspaper is back today with more:

•A friendly paragraph-long mention in a front-of-the-arts-section piece about an unrelated television program, and,

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