Tuesday, January 15, 2019

My beef with the New York Times...

The New York Times is an institution.  "All the News That's Fit to Print" is there everyday top left, front page.  It is a daily part of life here, and has been for 39 years.  Certainly I don't admire every article or writer, and almost by definition some articles can seem to have an NYT slant, angle, some would say bias.  That's part of any paper not written by robots, and so far they have not been outfit with algorithms to do that.  Certain publishing conglomerates push an agenda.  That's a given and can be too apparent.  From this perspective the New York Times strives for fact based reporting, even if a point of view must be maintained for coherent articles.

Perhaps the most biased piece ever seen here in the Times was the obituary for Dodi Fayed.  It detailed the life of a simply horrendous playboy with absolutely no redeeming characteristics.  That may have been true, but in an obituary...  It was unfortunately or fortunately hilarious to read from that perspective.  The piece has long been buried by the Times, so to speak.  It can't be found, but reading it with Kathy at the kitchen table is a vivid memory.

But getting to my beef.  The NYT is a global, national, state, and city newspaper, but it's local and  even a personal one in a few aspects.  This week's Sunday Styles section is a prime example.  The lead story is about a divorce, headline "A Messy Split For All to See", another full page follows.  They were a power couple in the New York art world.  The patriarch of the husband's family, the Mugrabi's, "emigrated to Columbia from Jerusalem and made a fortune textiles, leading to a net worth of $5 billion", not including the current valuation of a huge number of paintings by famous artists, with more than 1,000 Warhol's, many Basquiat's, Koons', Hirst's, and on and on.  So how do you make that kind of money in Columbian textiles(?) and what else is Columbia famous for?  The article does not ask.

There is a photo of the divorcing wife that is one of the most alluring photos of a fully clothed individual ever seen in a newspaper, nothing straightforward like the "Sun".  The couple's stunning jet setting life is detailed.  The cause of the break up and divorce is also detailed, from skinny dipping at a packed party, to a liaison on a couch discovered in the early morning hours, to "an unreachable husband while she was shuttling between vacations in Sardinia and London".

This is in the newspaper that highlights "New York's Neediest Cases" each day.  Hey, obviously I read the article, but is there some incongruity here.  So that is one aspect of the Times that boggles some days, with the style section and at times with straight news articles about Manhattan.  The other local and personal areas are the wedding and obituary sections.  It is clear that being famous, highly talented, or from the upper east side of Manhattan play a big role in being included.  The wedding section has made huge strides at diversity, almost overdoing it at times perhaps, but those left out in the past do have some catching up to do.  The obituaries are the most puzzling.  Of course those very well known in politics, science, and the arts are often included.  There are also obits of people with seemingly few accomplishments.  It was written in a lengthy obit two days ago - "but the highlight was his annual croquet party that drew a huge crowd every year."  Notable northeast prep schools abound.  So do Palm Beach and Naples as final residences of Manhattanites.  Then there is The Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel, a mainstay of those who perish with an upper east side background that can qualify for Times publication.

So that's just the way it is and ever will be.  There was a perfect New York story, from Chinatown, to Francis Lewis Boulevard, to Long Island; from Queens public schools to Herricks school district, to Northfield, one of those prep schools, to Simmons and then Syracuse for a B.A. degree in three years, to Columbia for a Masters;  from a women's cooperative in Boston, an admin job in Palo Alto, back to Manhattan and Manufacturers Hanover and on to Goldman Sachs; from large family dinners in Chinatown, Little Italy, and Flushing:  all of these seemed like a real New York story.  It was not accepted.  A bit of a beef on that.


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