Monday, December 27, 2010

Joseph Bottum's review of Gray Lady Down by William McGowan credits it for being a readable account of the decline of the New York Times, but final paragraph is really devastating. After pointing out that the shift from reporting the news to
the "sectional revolution" at the newspaper, the addition of topical section after topical section—fashion, science, technology, etc.—that brought in an enormous amount of advertising revenue.. . . But . . . the soft-news features of these sections created what became standard practice in American journalism, allowing the leftist political opinion and shared liberal culture of the Times newsroom first to infiltrate and then to take over the reporting that was supposed to be objective reporting.
Bottum concludes:
In other words, maybe it was always thus at the nation’s newspapers. Golden ages only look golden when something even worse follows them. Besides, interesting as it all may be, it doesn’t really matter anymore. The New York Times is just another local newspaper, in the same financial and circulation trouble as them all. Why, exactly, are we supposed to care?
One wonders how much of this is due to the general decline of print media in the face of the internet and how much is due to its readers tiring of its smug pretensions and dishonesty. The fact is that nobody has to wait overnight to find out the news anymore, nor are we limited to the poisonous pontifications of Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman.

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