Posts Tagged ‘Jill Abramason’
August 27th, 2012 at 3:18 pm
How NOT to Disprove Your Elitism
Posted by Print

A remarkable exchange took place at the New York Times over the weekend. First, there was Arthur Brisbane, writing his farewell column as the Times‘ public editor (a position that is supposed to function as the in-house voice of journalistic conscience), which contained this telling passage:

I … noted two years ago that I had taken up the public editor duties believing “there is no conspiracy” and that The Times’s output was too vast and complex to be dictated by any Wizard of Oz-like individual or cabal. I still believe that, but also see that the hive on Eighth Avenue is powerfully shaped by a culture of like minds — a phenomenon, I believe, that is more easily recognized from without than from within.

When The Times covers a national presidential campaign, I have found that the lead editors and reporters are disciplined about enforcing fairness and balance, and usually succeed in doing so. Across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism — for lack of a better term — that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.

As a result, developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in The Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects.

This truth, plain to even the most pedestrian observer of the Times, was too much for Executive Editor Jill Abramson to stomach, which led her to go crying to Politico‘s Dylan Beyers:

“In our newsroom we are always conscious that the way we view an issue in New York is not necessarily the way it is viewed in the rest of the country or world. I disagree with Mr. Brisbane’s sweeping conclusions,” Abramson told POLITICO Saturday night.

“I agree with another past public editor, Dan Okrent, and my predecessor as executive editor, Bill Keller, that in covering some social and cultural issues, the Times sometimes reflects its urban and cosmopolitan base,” she continued.

There you have it. Journalism defined: “speaking truth to those who agree with you.”

The New York Times is a publication that believes that what constitutes balanced coverage hinges on what ZIP code you’re in. They’re entitled to that belief. But they’re not entitled to a readership outside of the five boroughs — a fact that is only going to become more apparent to them with time.