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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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ABC Carpet

March 1, 2018 at 9:46 am

An article in the Thursday Style section reports:

In the 1990s, ABC Carpet on lower Broadway ushered in its own major rug trend, selling Orientals that had been dyed in bright colors like pink, blue, red or silver. Seemingly every well-off woman who instructed her hairdresser to give her the "Jennifer Aniston" had one.

But ubiquity has a way of creating openings for new things to come along. Or as Ryan Korban, the design guru to the fashion designers Alexander Wang and Joseph Altuzarra, put it: "ABC carpet hasn't changed substantially in 10 years. Tell me you don't agree with me. It's the same chairs and the same rugs as they had when I was in college. There's only so many times you can go to the same place and look at the same kind of stuff."

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Trump's 'War' on Law Enforcement

February 4, 2018 at 1:06 pm

A front-page New York Times "news analysis" article carries the online headline "Trump's Unparalleled War on a Pillar of Society: Law Enforcement." The promotional language for the story claims "President Trump has raised fears that he is tearing at the credibility of some of the most important institutions in American life to save himself."

This is precisely the sort of thing that erodes the Times' credibility. The Times article claims "The war between the president and the nation's law enforcement apparatus is unlike anything America has seen in modern times....the president has engaged in a scorched-earth assault on the pillars of the criminal justice system in a way that no other occupant of the White House has done."

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Sunglasses

January 25, 2018 at 5:12 pm

The photo shows a partial page from the New York Times.

It's a shopping column about sunglasses for sale at Bergdorf Goodman. The Times illustrates the column with a photo showing not only the sunglasses but a woman in some kind of beach coverup that doesn't cover up that much. The Times doesn't say who took the photo — is it the work of the Times itself, or some sort of publicity handout? Either way, it seemed sort of odd, as if the Times somehow couldn't, or did not want to, find a way to write about the sunglasses without also publishing this picture.

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Movie Piracy

January 25, 2018 at 9:40 am

A regular feature in the Times involves the newspaper interviewing its own employees about their use of technology. The latest installment, with the Times "Andes bureau chief," Nicholas Casey, includes this passage:

Beyond your job, what tech product are you currently obsessed with using in your daily life?

Netflix. There seem to be 10 times more offerings in Latin America than the United States, including many movies that are blocked back home and that I can only rent on iTunes. I would urge anyone who wants to spend days watching good films not available in America to set his or her VPN to Colombia and have a look.

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Centrist Lee Zeldin

January 16, 2018 at 9:53 am

One of the funnier aspects of media bias is the way that publications adjust the labels that they hurl at politicians or academics depending on the publication's agenda at a given time.

An article in today's New York Times, for example, reports, "After the tax vote, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan canceled plans to raise money for a centrist New York Republican as punishment for opposition to the tax bill, a response that penalizes a member of the speaker's party just when help is most needed to win re-election."

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Crime Is Falling, But Police Levels Remain Robust

January 8, 2018 at 9:09 am

A candidate for James Taranto's "Fox Butterfield" effect award is this New York Times news article, which appeared under the print headline, "Crime Is Falling, But Police Levels Remain Robust."

As the article itself concedes, "hardly anyone questions the size of police forces." Hardly anyone, that is, besides the New York Times.

The article is by Jose A. Del Real, whose LinkedIn bio describes him as a 2013 graduate of Harvard.

Newspapers exist in part to raise questions that "hardly anyone" is asking. But readers might be a bit less skeptical of the Times enthusiasm for shrinking the unionized government workforce if the enthusiasm extended beyond the police to other areas.

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