J-school biggie: NYT not the best paper anymore

Even within media circles in Manhattan, the reputation of the New York Times is slipping. Amongst themselves, and now openly for the rest of us to see, prominent voices are saying that the Old Grey Lady ain't what she used to be. Fourth generation hereditary publisher "Pinch" Sulzberger is squandering the family's legacy. Rest assured, less—favored members of the Sulzberger clan are not amused. Not that they were overjoyed with Pinch to begin with: the 43% decline in the value of their shares in the last three years under Pinch's management has got to hurt.

Jay Rosen has been teaching journalism at NYU for 18 years, and was chairman of the department from 1999 to 2005. He has a list of accomplishments and credentials which make him prominent in his field. And he blogs at a site called Press Think. He does not appear in any way to be a conservative

All of which makes it at least interesting and possibly significant that he is saying and writing openly that the New York Times, emperor of the MSM, has, if not no clothes, at least some cellulite showing:

Just one man's opinion, but now is a good time to say it: The New York Times is not any longer——in my mind——the greatest newspaper in the land. Nor is it the base line for the public narrative that it once was.

The "straw that broke the camel's back" is the Times' treatment of the Judith Miller story — one involving its own reporter. Some choice excerpts:

So limited and empty and 'stiff' is the official story about Judy Miller that some are reminded of the old Soviet style in public communication. News comes in code, and mostly the silences speak....

Miller is a longtime friend of the publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. They socialize. It's not a scandal, but it is a fact. Sulzberger has stood behind her in a show of support that anyone watching can see is personal, and strongly—felt. She has the full support of Executive Editor Bill Keller, who has said (more or less) she's a First Amendment hero— not a martyr, Keller would say, but a hero in the sense of acting with exemplary courage and personal conviction in civil disobedience to the law.

Colliding ominously with these two facts are several others. The weight of professional opinion—once solidly behind Judy Miller, for a long time split 60/40 for her—is now decisively against. (I would think reader opinion is similarly thumbs down.) Most journalists seem baffled by her explanations, and dubious about the waiver that wasn't, then was. They do not see her cause as necessarily just.

Within the Times, I don't know what the feelings are, but it isn't possible that people there are insulated from the above facts. They know what their peers in the press think. The Washington bureau, in my opinion, has been humiliated by the plea of nolo contendere. And I doubt that I am the only one who sees it that way.

We've been saying a lot stronger stuff for a long time. But we don't go to the right cocktail parties, lecture future journalists, or have a wall full of plaques attesting to our journalistic chops.

Once the New York Times loses its prestige, it's just third—biggest paper in New York circulation, and one which readers in Austin, Minneapolis, or Atlanta have no particular reason to pay cash money to have plop on their driveways in a blue plastic wrap every day. I know, because it used to plop on my driveway for many years, until its bias become so blatant in my eyes.

Once the paper loses its elan, and assorted Sulzbergers begin to notice people talking at cocktail parties, glancing their way, and then falling silent or changing gears as they approach, ol' Pinch may find that the family's shares are no longer voted his way.

Just a thought. Pass it on.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

Thomas Lifson  10 05 05

Clarice Feldman adds:

The New York Times seems to be paying a price for its bad reporting, as compared to the Washington Post, the paper favored by Prof. Rosen as the best in the country. At least according to this chart, via Mickey Kaus.

UPDATE:

Mediacrity has a very good post on Rosen and the Times here.

Even within media circles in Manhattan, the reputation of the New York Times is slipping. Amongst themselves, and now openly for the rest of us to see, prominent voices are saying that the Old Grey Lady ain't what she used to be. Fourth generation hereditary publisher "Pinch" Sulzberger is squandering the family's legacy. Rest assured, less—favored members of the Sulzberger clan are not amused. Not that they were overjoyed with Pinch to begin with: the 43% decline in the value of their shares in the last three years under Pinch's management has got to hurt.

Jay Rosen has been teaching journalism at NYU for 18 years, and was chairman of the department from 1999 to 2005. He has a list of accomplishments and credentials which make him prominent in his field. And he blogs at a site called Press Think. He does not appear in any way to be a conservative

All of which makes it at least interesting and possibly significant that he is saying and writing openly that the New York Times, emperor of the MSM, has, if not no clothes, at least some cellulite showing:

Just one man's opinion, but now is a good time to say it: The New York Times is not any longer——in my mind——the greatest newspaper in the land. Nor is it the base line for the public narrative that it once was.

The "straw that broke the camel's back" is the Times' treatment of the Judith Miller story — one involving its own reporter. Some choice excerpts:

So limited and empty and 'stiff' is the official story about Judy Miller that some are reminded of the old Soviet style in public communication. News comes in code, and mostly the silences speak....

Miller is a longtime friend of the publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. They socialize. It's not a scandal, but it is a fact. Sulzberger has stood behind her in a show of support that anyone watching can see is personal, and strongly—felt. She has the full support of Executive Editor Bill Keller, who has said (more or less) she's a First Amendment hero— not a martyr, Keller would say, but a hero in the sense of acting with exemplary courage and personal conviction in civil disobedience to the law.

Colliding ominously with these two facts are several others. The weight of professional opinion—once solidly behind Judy Miller, for a long time split 60/40 for her—is now decisively against. (I would think reader opinion is similarly thumbs down.) Most journalists seem baffled by her explanations, and dubious about the waiver that wasn't, then was. They do not see her cause as necessarily just.

Within the Times, I don't know what the feelings are, but it isn't possible that people there are insulated from the above facts. They know what their peers in the press think. The Washington bureau, in my opinion, has been humiliated by the plea of nolo contendere. And I doubt that I am the only one who sees it that way.

We've been saying a lot stronger stuff for a long time. But we don't go to the right cocktail parties, lecture future journalists, or have a wall full of plaques attesting to our journalistic chops.

Once the New York Times loses its prestige, it's just third—biggest paper in New York circulation, and one which readers in Austin, Minneapolis, or Atlanta have no particular reason to pay cash money to have plop on their driveways in a blue plastic wrap every day. I know, because it used to plop on my driveway for many years, until its bias become so blatant in my eyes.

Once the paper loses its elan, and assorted Sulzbergers begin to notice people talking at cocktail parties, glancing their way, and then falling silent or changing gears as they approach, ol' Pinch may find that the family's shares are no longer voted his way.

Just a thought. Pass it on.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

Thomas Lifson  10 05 05

Clarice Feldman adds:

The New York Times seems to be paying a price for its bad reporting, as compared to the Washington Post, the paper favored by Prof. Rosen as the best in the country. At least according to this chart, via Mickey Kaus.

UPDATE:

Mediacrity has a very good post on Rosen and the Times here.