The New York Times opinion section has had some difficulty in recent days.
Recall that opinion editor James Bennet resigned 10 months ago following an uproar among Times staffers after he approved an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican who called for a greater security presence on American streets in a piece headlined “Send in the Troops.” A month later, op-ed editor Bari Weiss left the news organization, citing “constant bullying” from other staffers.
Now comes a new development, which has much to do with term limits of a different sort.
Times opinion editor Kathleen Kingsbury has revealed that the term “op-ed” — in use for five decades at the newspaper — is little more than “clubby newspaper jargon” and essentially obsolete.
“Op-ed” has officially given way to “Guest Essay,” Ms. Kingsbury says.
But let us examine the loser here. “Op-ed” is actually short for “opposite editorial” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which also noted that the first known use of “op-ed” was in 1970. Alas, though. The term was doomed.
“It is a relic of an older age and an older print newspaper design,” Ms. Kingsbury said in an explanation titled “Why The New York Times is retiring the term ‘op-ed,’” which was published Monday.
“So now, at age 50, the designation will be retired. Editorials will still be called editorials, but the articles written by outside writers will be known going forward as ‘Guest Essays,’ a title that will appear prominently above the headline,” Ms. Kingsbury noted.
Does this mean that an “opposite editorial” is no longer allowed in The Times — only a “Guest Essay”? That sounds a little clubby too, perhaps.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post is still using the term “op-ed,” as is the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe — and The Washington Times.
PREDICTIONS FOR BIDEN’S BIG SPEECH
President Biden will deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night before an audience limited to 200 invited lawmakers. Here’s what the press is saying about the big event:
“President Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress could define his legacy” (USA Today); “Biden’s first address to Congress is invite-only” (The Associated Press, CBS News); “Why Biden’s address to Congress is not a State of the Union speech” (Fox News); “Biden’s Wednesday speech will outline his rhetorical endgame” (CNN); “Lawmakers scramble for ‘musical chairs’ to view Biden’s first Capitol speech” (Politico); “Which Biden will show up for his first major address to Congress and nation?” (Boston Herald); and “No designated survivor: Key changes for Biden’s speech to Congress amid COVID” (New York Post).
TRUMP’S ADVICE ON THE OSCARS
Never forget that former President Donald Trump was a reality TV pioneer who knows much about broadcast appeal. He has advice for those who produced the programming for the Oscars on Monday night, which garnered much criticism and dismal ratings.
“Go back 15 years, look at the formula they then used, change the name back to the Academy Awards, don’t be so politically correct and boring, and do it right,” Mr. Trump advised the producers in a terse statement shared with Inside the Beltway.
“Also, bring back a great host. These television people spend all their time thinking about how to promote the Democrat Party, which is destroying our country, and cancel conservatives and Republicans. That formula certainly hasn’t worked very well for The Academy!” Mr. Trump observed.
MEANWHILE IN TEXAS
Well, here’s one way to deal with clashing interpretations of cultural moments.
“The University of Texas at Austin has announced that it is in the process of creating a second marching band, separate from the school’s current Longhorn Marching Band. The currently forming unnamed band will provide an alternative involvement option for students who want to participate in marching band at UT but who do not want to play the school’s controversial alma mater ‘The Eyes of Texas,’” reports The College Fix, an academic watchdog group.
The tune came under scrutiny at the campus following “the wave of George Floyd protests,” the organization said, noting that many students and alumni still favored the song, and that a research committee ultimately produced a 59-page report in March which concluded that the tune did not contain racist content.
“In efforts to compromise with members of the marching band who continue to believe the song is racist, the university will create the second marching band, which will not be required to play the school’s fight song or their controversial alma mater,” the College Fix explained, noting that the extra band also will be designated an academic for-credit course beginning in fall 2022.
CANCELING CANCEL CULTURE
An online event of note on Wednesday: The Heritage Foundation presents a thoughtful discussion titled “The War against Cancel Culture: What the United States can learn from Great Britain.” Five scholars and journalists will have a say.
“Leftist groups in Great Britain have attempted to shut down speech on the nation’s university campuses, tear down statues of historical figures, and censor debate in the public square. But the British government is confronting the scourge of cancel culture,” the organizers advise.
The event starts at 11 a.m. Eastern; register at Heritage.org/events.
POLL DU JOUR
• 46% of U.S. voters say it is “very important” that President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hold regular press conferences; 52% of Republicans, 29% of independents and 46% of Democrats agree.
• 32% voters overall say it is “somewhat important” that they hold regular press conferences; 21% of Republicans, 33% of independents and 41% of Democrats agree.
• 11% overall say it is “not very important”; 11% of Republicans, 12% of independents and 10% of Democrats agree.
• 8% overall say it is “not at all important”; 11% of Republicans, 18% of independents and 2% of Democrats agree.
• 4% overall “don’t know”; 3% of Republicans, 7% of independents and 2% of Democrats agree.
Source: A Fox News poll of 1,002 registered U.S. voters conducted April 18-21.
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