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Lost in Europe

September 14, 2018 at 9:13 am

In a New York Times arts section review by Jason Farago of "Chagall, Lissitzky, Malevich: The Russian Avant-Garde in Vitebsk, 1918-1922," a new exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York, comes a reference to "Belarus, the last dictatorship in Europe." What about Russia? Turkey? Crimea? I suppose Russia and Turkey both are partly in Europe, partly in Asia, but they aren't free countries, at least according to Freedom House, and they are partly in Europe. At least using a geographic definition of Europe.

 

Young Jeff Klein

August 16, 2018 at 11:24 am

A New York Times article about a Conde Nast editor-turned-L.A. maitre d refers to "Jeffrey Klein, the young hotelier behind the Sunset Tower."

A January 2017 article about Mr. Klein elsewhere on the internet said he was 48, and a 2011 New York Times report on his commitment ceremony put his age then at 41.

I'm in my 40s myself, so I can't really, in good conscience, personally complain about the Times characterizing Klein as "young." Times readers in their teens, 20s, or 30s, however, might be skeptical about the description of someone in his late 40s as "young." In general, in situations such as this, the Times would be better off just giving someone's age rather than characterizing the person as old or young.

 

Drinking Problem

July 10, 2018 at 9:18 am

A dispatch from Washington about a bartender who has a charity that helps Cambodia begins:

WASHINGTON — Sambonn Lek, bartender at the St. Regis hotel near the White House, has shaken and stirred for movers and shakers since the Carter administration. At 66, he leads a disappearing fraternity: barkeeps who know their regulars' names and favorite cocktails, and when they drink so much of the latter that they forget the former, find them a ride home.

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Immigrant Crime in Germany

June 19, 2018 at 9:07 am

The New York Times is under pressure from its anti-Trump paying readers to be aggressive in calling out presidential lies, or falsehoods. One problem with doing that is the risk of the Times getting it wrong. For example, an initial version of a Times article yesterday by "early morning breaking news reporter" Eileen Sullivan about immigration included the passage, "In a series of Twitter posts, Mr. Trump falsely claimed that crime in Germany is on the rise, and railed against immigration policies in Europe."

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Federal Transit Funding

June 19, 2018 at 8:27 am

"How The Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country" is the online headline over a top-of-the-front-page news article by Hiroko Tabuchi in today's Times. The story is flawed on a number of levels, but one passage I found particularly jarring was this one: "The paucity of federal funding for transit projects means that local ballots are critical in shaping how Americans travel...."

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Macy's Becoming a Homeless Shelter Is 'Good News'?

June 16, 2018 at 9:26 pm

The Times has started running a regular feature headlined "The Week in Good News."

This week's installment appears with the introduction, "Sometimes it seems as if we're living under a constant barrage of heavy news. But it isn't all bad out there. This feature is meant to send you into the weekend with a smile, or at least a lighter heart....Here are seven great things we wrote about this week."

One of these "great things" or "good news" meant "to send you into the weekend with a smile" was a Times article about a Macy's at an Alexandria, Va. shopping mall that has been partly converted to a temporary homeless shelter.

I guess it's possible to interpret the fact that the homeless are being sheltered rather than ignored as "good news," but the story itself is so bleak that it's more likely to evoke tears than smiles:

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Verizon's Stock Performance

June 11, 2018 at 7:56 am

For a textbook example of bad use of numbers in a news article, consider this, from a Times front-of-the-business section dispatch about a change in leadership at Verizon:

Mr. McAdam, who served six years in the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps before embarking on his career, became Verizon's chief executive in August 2011. During his tenure, he took big steps to prepare the company for the industry's current upheaval. In that time, Verizon's share price has increased nearly 40 percent, to $49.01.

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Copycat Suicides and Press Coverage

June 8, 2018 at 9:13 am

May 13, 2018: Front-page New York Times article about a suicide at Hamilton College.

May 29, 2018: Front-page New York Times article about a suicide in Prospect Park.

June 6, 2018: Front-page New York Times article about suicide of handbag designer Kate Spade, accompanied by lots and lots and lots of additional Times coverage.

June 8, 2018: Chef and writer and television personality Anthony Bourdain reportedly kills himself in his hotel room.

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Ali Watkins and James Wolfe

June 8, 2018 at 8:15 am

"Former Senate Aide Is Charged As Obsession Over Leaks Boils" is the headline over a front-page New York Times article that reports about the arrest of James Wolfe, who was director of security at the Senate Intelligence Committee. The jump headline inside the paper is "Ex-Senate Aide Is Charged Amid Obsession Over Leaks."

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At Oxford, Halting Progress On Race

May 30, 2018 at 7:42 am

A dispatch from London about race in admissions to Oxford appears in the Times under the byline of Alan Cowell and with additional reporting credit from "Aurelien Breeden from Paris, Elisabetta Povoledo from Rome, and Melissa Eddy and Christopher F. Schuetze from Berlin," for a grand total of five named Times staffers on an 1,100-word article.

The Times reports:

For some, the figures showed only halting progress: About 3 percent of the British population is black, according to the most recent census, but only 1.9 percent of the roughly 3,200 students admitted to Oxford in 2017 identified as black Britons.

That was an increase of less than a percentage point from 2013, when 1.1 percent of British undergraduates at Oxford identified as black, a subset of what the university called "black and minority ethnic" students, including those of Asian and mixed heritage, whose share of admissions rose to 17.9 percent last year, from 13.9 percent in 2013.

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A Reasonable Question?

May 29, 2018 at 8:38 am

Reviewing the new PBS documentary "The Chinese Exclusion Act," directed by Ric Burns and Li-Shin Yu, New York Times television critic Mike Hale writes:

You could reasonably ask why a non-Asian-American filmmaker like Mr. Burns should be the driving force in such a prominent telling of an Asian-American story. The answer, beyond the quality of the work, lies in the inevitable advantage that established figures like him and, in the case of "Becoming American," Bill Moyers have in raising money.

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The New York Times and the Jews

May 18, 2018 at 8:03 am

June 5 at 7:15 p.m. I'll be participating in a panel discussion in New York City on the topic of "The New York Times and the Jews." Advance tickets are required and are available here. If you are interested in this topic, I hope to see you there.

 

Correcting a Correction on Chemical Agents in Europe

March 28, 2018 at 9:46 am

A correction in today's New York Times reads: "Because of an editing error, an article on Tuesday about the European Union's response to the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter misstated when a chemical agent was last used on European soil. The poisoning marked the first use of a chemical agent on European soil since — not before — the Second World War."

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Times Portrays Belarussian Escort as 'Publicity Seeker'

March 7, 2018 at 10:29 am

A New York Times dispatch from Bangkok reports on "A Belarusian escort with close ties to a powerful Russian oligarch" who "said from behind bars in Bangkok on Monday that she had more than 16 hours of audio recordings that could help shed light on Russian meddling in United States elections"

Lower down, the article says, "Ms. Vashukevich and Mr. Kirillov, who also goes by the name Alex Lesley, are prominent on social media and are considered by some to be publicity seekers."

This struck me as a bizarre formulation. "Are considered by some" is the passive voice that is usually a danger signal that the Times is trying to spin a story. The Times doesn't say who these "some" are.

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An Anti-Nepotism Editorial

March 2, 2018 at 8:26 am

With just a brief nod to the irony-verging-on-comedy involved, the New York Times unleashes a rare "editorial series" on the supposed evils of what the Times calls "nepotism in the White House." Says the Times: "A legacy of family control has helped sustain many private companies, including The New York Times." Then it goes on about "the corrosive effect of such nepotism: Even an incompetent in-law can reject the directions of the most experienced staff members; access — the currency of government — is unchecked; dismissal is difficult no matter how deserved; and ethical standards are near-impossible to enforce."

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