My grandfather had to drop out of high school during the Great Depression. He eventually got his GED, but said that most people he spoke with assumed he had a college degree. He was a very bright man, but he credited this to reading The New York Times every day, cover to cover.
Seth Godin writes about how business is poor at The New York Times, while standards and focus are slipping. Recent articles include two stories on Barbara Walters and her new book, and a review of The Olive Garden. Yes, The Olive Garden. After reading this, I have serious doubts as to whether someone could repeat what my grandfather did.
I remember growing up hearing that The New York Times was “the paper of record“. I looked up that term in Wikipedia and found there is resistance to that venerable term by Western newspaper editors, especially those at NYT:
Daniel Okrent, at the time the public editor of The New York Times, wrote on April 25, 2004 that his paper is no longer a newspaper of record, and that this change is to be welcomed. In his view, the journalism of a “newspaper of record” is “as much stenography as reporting, as much virtual reprinting of handouts (in the form of verbatim transcripts of unexceptional speeches) as provocative journalism.” John Geddes, the managing editor of The New York Times, expressed this even more strongly: “I don’t think there can be a ‘paper of record’. The term implies an omniscient chronicler of events, an arbiter that perfectly captures the significance and import of a day in our lives. I don’t work at that place.”
I think we’ve lost something good here.