In a business cycle when buyouts and layoffs are the expectation and not the exception, The New York Times sees fit to hang a big neon sign to highlight the irrelevance of newspapers and the multitude of alternative news sources waiting to take its place.
The New York Times has rejected a John McCain essay on the War in Iraq. Barack Obama had published an essay on the war the week before, on Monday, July 14th; McCain’s was to have run on the 21st.
I’m not sure whether this decision is more attributable to arrogance or to a time warp. Arrogant, because even the Gods Among Us who run the NYT have to know that they’re not the only show in town; A time warp, because even the NYT‘s editors have to understand that this isn’t the 1950s, when powerful newsmen determined what our “news” would be and, what they didn’t find newsworthy, we never saw.
The blogosphere is vibrant and growing. Websites like Blogcritics.org allow readers to become contributors and produce their own content. Pages like Weoped.com allow aspiring writers to develop their voices and grow their own audiences. And newspapers like The Washington Times allow young writers like myself to participate on their blogs, where we criticize poor decisions like the NYT‘s editors — who I’ll not name because I don’t want to give them any credit — who reject an essay written by one of the two presidential candidates. You’d think that, after the incredibly thinly-sourced NYT piece on McCain’s alleged inappropriate ties with a lobbyist, the NYT would go out of its way to avoid the image of a vendetta. It’s like the judges say on Law & Order: “it doesn’t just have to be fair; it has to look fair too.” The NYT apparently has no such concern, and feels that burning effigies of John McCain in its pages is a worthy cause.
Rather than the nation ignoring McCain’s piece, as it almost certainly would have, the NYT has made it the first must-read political tract of 2008. Rather than bypass the piece when it would’ve run in the NYT, I instead read the piece — which, admittedly, was the typical “BUT THE DEMOCRATS ARE WORSE!!!1” Republican attack line — on CNN.com, a site that, if it has lower circulation than NYT, isn’t by much. Had the NYT simply published the essay, as was, chances are I wouldn’t have read it — chances are, for the very same reasons the NYT editor rejected it.
Instead, New York decided to hang the big neon sign, one that looks rather inappropriate juxtaposed against the tombstones of the newspaper industry.
— James David Dickson