Roger’s Rules

Why I Don’t Read The New York Times

Relax. I am not going to tell you all the reasons I don’t read our former paper of record. I am not even going to mention its appalling subservience to political correctness or the dumbed-down sewer that is its cultural coverage. (Can a sewer be “dumbed-down”? Read the Times before answering.) Nor will I go on about what’s happened to the book review under its current editor. Let’s move on, as Hillary Clinton used to say when she wanted to put something unpleasant behind her. Let’s talk about facts.

“The Times is still a great paper.” You’ve heard that, right? The paper may be rushing towards bankruptcy but it still commands formidable resources. When they set out to cover a story, they can “flood the zone” with reporters and researchers and really dig deep and get things right.

Or can they?

Consider this correction:

Instead of being arrested , as we stated, for kicking his wife down a flight of stairs and hurling a lighted kerosene lamp after her, the Revd. James P. Wellman died unmarried four years ago.

Actually, I’m not sure that is from the Times. All we know is that it is from “an American newspaper,” quoted by Edward Burne-Jones in a letter and reproduced in that literary treasure trove Geoffrey Madan’s Notebooks.

It’s funny, right? But what if you were the Revd. Wellman? And what, more to the point, what if you were the students named in a recent article in the Times about “the effect of social media use on the bar scene in several college towns.” The article in question is the usual emetic Times piece, instinct with a scolding, know-it-all tone and oozing social concern. What’s noteworthy, however, is not the piece but the correction that follows:

Editors’ Note: September 28, 2012

An article on Thursday described the effect of social media use on the bar scene in several college towns, including the area around Cornell. After the article was published, questions were raised by the blog IvyGate about the identities of six Cornell students quoted in the article or shown in an accompanying photo.

None of the names [None!] provided by those students to a reporter and photographer for The Times — Michelle Guida, Vanessa Gilen, Tracy O’Hara, John Montana, David Lieberman and Ben Johnson — match listings in the Cornell student directory, and The Times has not subsequently been able to contact anyone by those names.

But here is my favorite bit: “The Times should have worked to verify the students’ identities independently before quoting or picturing them for the article.”

Really? Do you think so?

Pathetic, what? (H/t Instapundit.)