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Trump's Attacks on News Media

October 29, 2018 at 9:41 am

From the Jim Rutenberg media column, returned after an absence:

He has succeeded in creating a daily narrative in which he is the central figure," Steve Coll, the dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism and a staff writer at The New Yorker, told me. "And he uses props and invented opposition — whether they are migrants hundreds of miles from the U.S. border or the press right in front of him — to pursue this kind of idea he has about how his populism works."

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Republicans and Infrastructure Spending

October 26, 2018 at 8:32 am

From a New York Times staff editorial about how congressional Democrats might work with President Trump after the midterm election:

With Republicans likely to retain control of the Senate, the odds of even a vaguely progressive bill of any real significance making it through the upper chamber are slim. It's hard to imagine Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, allowing his members to come within 100 miles of, say, a costly infrastructure plan.

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The Billionaire Who Ruined Sears

October 17, 2018 at 9:43 am

Under the headline "The Billionaire Who Ruined Sears," the New York Times runs an op-ed piece asserting of Edward Lampert, "In 2005, he merged the rejuvenated Kmart with Sears, then a conservatively run but still thriving nationwide retailer." The deal was announced in 2004, not 2005, and at the time, the New York Times itself described Sears not as thriving. Rather, the Times reported at the time that Sears "has been on the wane for the last 40 years." Said the Times in 2004, "Customer traffic and sales have been sluggish at both Kmart and Sears." The Times article reporting on the deal quoted a marketing professor who said, "both of these companies are faltering." It described Sears as having been "struggling to reinvent itself while larger and more nimble chains, including Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot and Lowe's, spirited away once-loyal Sears customers with better merchandise, better prices or both." It reported of Sears, "by the 1970's its retail fortunes were in decline."

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Trump's Insults

October 17, 2018 at 9:20 am

A front-page news article in today's New York Times focuses on "how the president demeans women." It takes until the 18th paragraph of the article for the Times to acknowledge, "The president often expresses his ire by comparing women to animals, an effort to dehumanize his opponents that he also uses against men."

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No Credit

October 16, 2018 at 9:25 am

Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital have concluded that a cardiologist "fabricated or falsified data in 31 published studies that should be retracted," the New York Times reports. The Boston Globe had the story first, on its front page yesterday, but the Times gives no credit to the Globe, to its "Stat News" subsidiary, or to Retraction Watch for breaking the story. That seems kind of lame.

 

Unexpectedly Bad Headline

October 15, 2018 at 8:22 am

"G.O.P. Finds an Unexpectedly Potent Line of Attack: Immigration," is the headline over a news article in today's Times. The article was interesting, but what made me laugh was the headline. Who was it, exactly, who didn't expect immigration to work as an issue for Trump Republicans? The Democrats? The Trump Republicans who are the ones using the issue? Or the reporters and editors in the Times newsroom and their left-leaning readers? How many more times does this have to happen before it ceases to be unexpected?

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Opioid Prescribers

October 12, 2018 at 8:27 am

From a Metro section news article about federal criminal charges against doctors prescribing painkillers comes an example of how reporters collaborate with prosecutors to cast accused criminals in the most negative possible light: "Dr. Pietropinto, the psychiatrist who saw people at night in a rented office on Fifth Avenue, wrote thousands of prescriptions for large amounts of oxycodone in exchange for $50 to $100 in cash per visit, the complaint said."

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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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