Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Oh My God! NYT is going for pay! We're switching to Christian Science Monitor

"Oh My God! NYT is going for pay! We're switching to Christian Science Monitor!"

No, we're not. (We is Ava and C.I.)

There are reasons to switch, but the community is still 40% in favor of switching to Christian Science Monitor, 50% in favor of remaining with the New York Times, 8% not caring either way and 2% bored with the conversation (as indicated in the latest polling from the gina & krista round-robin).

A number of e-mails came in regarding Jay DeFoore's "NYTimes.com To Launch Premium Service Next Monday: Will Fans Pay for Famed Columnists?" (Editor & Publisher). We're honestly disappointed with the article.

But before we get to that, DeFoore notes that it is the op-eds that will be "premium" content. We don't make a point to touch on the op-eds here. (We addressed Patti Limeric because she was . . . such a Patti Limmeric.) That doesn't effect the focus of this community a bit.

The change is no real change for this community.

For those in a free fall over the news ("No more reading Dowd for free!" or Krugman, or Herbert -- we can't imagine anyone weeping over the prospect of Thomas Friedman), here's what DeFoore and the hand wringers overlook. It's been noted here before because we began addressing this issue months ago (December? and we belive it was Marcia who first raised the issue).

You'll, apparently, still be able to read Dowd online. This effects the New York Times web site.
Dowd, Krugman, et al are syndicated by the Times. Nothing in the article suggests (and we raised this issue months ago as well) that the Times will be imposing a "blockage" of any form for papers that carry their syndicated columnist. So, for instance with Dowd, you'll hop over to a Seattle paper to read her instead of checking her out at the Times.

(We'd argued then that the Times would have a hard time syndicating their columnists and also imposing a "you can not provide this for free at your paper's web site" rule. Nothing in DeFoore's article indicates that such a rule exists.)

One of us (C.I.) would actually like to move to the Christian Science Monitor (or any other paper). The other (Ava) is of the 8% that doesn't care.

The one who would like to move would like to do so because the Times day after day hurts the brain, because there's a reporter who was replied to (reporter hasn't been cited since their e-mail was replied to), there's a reporter who's work was cited here without realizing that the one citing it (C.I.) knew the reporter vaguely but, more importantly, the reporter had once done a favor (good Samaritan type favor) and there are people at the paper that are known and spoken to (but aren't reviewed or cited here to maintain "a wall" that J-Ass will later cite as the reason why he didn't do his job -- that was a joke).

C.I.: We're not a breaking news site. We don't pass on gossip from people at the Times who e-mail. We don't pass on gossip from people at the Times that I know. But, as with the case of Judith Miller, there are times when people I know will ask that we please correct a misrepresenation/understanding (one this site didn't create). With regard to Miller, that issue was noted in an interview with Beth and I noted clearly in that interview that I was asked to make that point (that Miller was not about to be fired prior to the Fitzgerald investigation). The ones involved in asking for that believe that. It wasn't spin on their part. Whether it's true or not, I don't know. I suspect it's not true (that she was about to be fired) due to her history with the paper. (I'm referring to more than how long she's worked at the paper.) But requests like that come in often. We're not a breaking news site and I can usually say no on those grounds.
(We're a resource review, to any visitor stumbling upon us. Which is why, when a member again e-mailed a Zogby poll, it was passed it on to Mike at the member's request. And he has the latest Zogby poll posted at his site in this entry. I pass on quite a number of things for that reason.) I'm also, quite frankly, tired of the whining e-mails from some at the Times with their accusations that Scott Shane only has to type his name and he'll get praised (they write the same thing about two other reporters).

The New York Times has its strengths and its weaknesses. TV reviewers that we are, we like Alessandra Stanley's work, for instance. We disagree with Geraldo's whining or some of the griping over the Katie Couric heels clicking piece. (We will note, both of us, that Katie Couric is not the "diva" of The Today Show set. We'll also note that rumors that she is -- not from AS -- appear to be similar to press on Letterman when he was also rumored to be thinking of abandoning the NBC ship. Lastly, we'll note that although we aren't friends with Katie Couric, we do know her and, of the people at Today, she works harder than anyone else on air to make sure she has her research. That's why she was ommitted from the December 5th entry "COUP: Today Show Seizes Control of the New York Times' front page." And why, though we will get in our jabs at Matt Lauer, we avoid jabbing Couric. If we thought she deserved it, we would jab her.)

We think Geraldo takes AS too literally. There are others whose work we admire for instance . . . uh . . . (E-mails will come in saying, "Scott Shane! Douglas Jehl!" and a host of others this site supposedly plays favorites with.) It's a daily paper and mistakes will be made, honest ones. (Kat is still upset that on Labor Day, the Times reported that Greg Dulli would be releasing an album the next day when, in fact, he wasn't releasing an album the next day; when, in fact, the album in question had been available at concerts and independent stores since September; when, in fact, the album was not going into wider release in the current future. That would be a mistake on the part of the Times and one does wonder how that made it into print. Faulty information from the label should have led Amazon and Tower to have the same faulty information and, Kat will tell you, that's not the case. Maybe the reporter was a Greg Dulli fan and just wanted to plug an album that had been out for twelve months? Who knows?)

But honestly, there are mornings when the last thing desired is to face the New York Times.

But members have spoken and there's no plan to change at this point. (No plan, but there is always hope.) The DeFoore article, we're assuming it's accurate, doesn't effect this site.

Monday morning, in the special daily edition of the gina-krista round-robin, it was noted that John Roberts, Jr. would use a baseball metaphor (noted by C.I.) in his opening remarks. It was noted that this was rehearsed in the "murder sessions." A number of members e-mailed to ask why this wasn't noted when Linda Greenhouse's article was commented on today. Greenhouse didn't present the claim that the baseball metaphor wasn't part of the "murder sessions" as fact. She presented it as what she was told.

Had she presented it as fact, it would have been criticized here. By eight a.m. eastern time Monday morning, members should have received (if not read) the round-robin special. It was presented as a tid-bit passed on (to C.I.) (a crumb tossed out). Had Roberts not used the metaphor and it been presented as fact as opposed to "here is what I've been told," then the same sort of criticism some members feel Greenhouse deserves could have been aimed at one of us (C.I.).

Greenhouse didn't present herself as clairvoyant. She didn't present it as "fact." She presented it as a claim she'd been told. If others were a little less sure of their all mighty powers, they'd receive far less criticism. Greenhouse has been reporting long enough to know not to be burned by a source. Had she presented it as fact, she would have been burned. Since she didn't, there was no need to make a point of it.

(If you're reading this when it goes up, heads up to another "morsel" or "tidbit" in the round-robin that goes out Wednesday morning. If you're reading this after the fact and haven't checked the round-robin yet, go check it now. It is a claim. Something passed on and we can all wait and see if it's true.)

Fortunately (or unfortunately) we're not yet leaving the Times (yet -- again, there is always hope . . .). This was the second biggest topic in the e-mails from members. (We haven't checked the public e-mail account.) If you're one of the ones worried that you'll miss Dowd, Krugman or Herbert, find out what other papers carry it. (And if you're lazy or pressed for time, some resources will appear in the official gina & krista round-robin on Friday.)

In closing, let's take a moment to thank Gina and Krista. Their round-robin is a source of activism and a community newsletter and so much more. They work very hard on that every week. This week, they're putting out their mini-round-robin (which isn't so mini) to cover the Roberts' hearings. Wednesday night's roundtable (which will go out in Thursday's edition) will include Elaine, Ruth, Rebecca, Keesha, Beth, Mike, Jess and Kat (fingers crossed, it will include Betty as well but due to it being a church night, that's tentative at this point). (And of course it will be moderated by Gina and Krista and we -- Ava and C.I. -- will participate.)

We rightly applaud members who start their own sites (most recently Elaine -- and there's a member who says a site will start in October -- if it does, we will applaud it and note it). By the same token, we should applaud the round-robin. It's entertaining, informative and provides a space for members to raise issues to the community. Beth is our ombudsman (we agree with West). But there are issues that are better kept in the community. (Read the guest editorial by Ryan and Eddie "A Long Taxi Ride" -- named after the Tori Amos song from Scarlet's Walk -- that will appear in tomorrow's round-robin for an example of that.) The round-robin provides a place for those conversations that we really would prefer visitors not eavesdrop on. Two members (DK and Cindy) just got added to the round-robin mailing list. But they are about to cap the circulation on that. So if you're a member who doesn't receive it and wants to, you better act quickly. (You can also get the reply from Ava to an idiot who e-mailed The Third Estate Sunday Review this week. Tonight that briefly went up at Rebecca's site before Ava asked her to delete it. That's the sort of additional bonus the round-robin provides as well as addressing topics that some feel one of us, C.I., is too apt to take the "high road" on.)

The e-mail address for this site (public e-mail) is common_ills@yahoo.com.