All errors should be reported to

Thursday, July 27, 2017

NYT pays the price of feuding with The Donald

Feuding with Donald Trump never ends well, as the New York Times has discovered over the past year.

The newspaper of record has become a wreck. It thought it could bully Trump as it bullied other Republicans over the years.


The beleaguered newspaper is on the ropes financially, grammatically, and now spiritually, according to Vanity Fair:
The first six months of the Trump administration have been one of the most glorious eras in the history of The New York Times.
And yet, in many corners of the Times’s Renzo Piano-designed building at 620 8th Avenue, the glory is hollow. As one editor put it, “The mood at the paper is poisonous in a way I’ve never seen it in the past 15 years.” The ostensible reason is that the Times is undergoing yet another round of buyouts, set to be finalized on Thursday. “Every buyout is tense,” the editor continued, “but there’s something really demoralizing about this one that’s been worse than any before.”
Unlike past buyouts, though, the human toll is now only part of the sinking mood. A major newsroom reorganization is upending a time-honored method of producing the Times’s signature journalism while simultaneously making an entire class of employees feel obsolete. Additionally, the Times’s midtown Manhattan headquarters is itself being upended, shrinking by eight floors and leaving all but the highest of editors without private offices. Open floor plans have long been increasingly popular among publishers, particularly given how important cross-desk collaboration has become in the social-media age, but this, too, amounts to a decisive and, for some, painful break with the news organization’s past.
The message to remaining copy editors is find a new employer, even if it means another line of work.

From Vanity Fair's story:
In past years, staff buyouts at the Times—and the involuntary layoffs that often follow — tended to cause the biggest stir when they involved an exodus of high-profile reporters and editors who’d been with the organization for decades. This time, the buyouts have been particularly contentious because of the way they’ve targeted a loyal underclass of newsroom employees, seen by many as the staunchest defenders of the Times’s rigorous standards.
The buyouts have also revived talk, as one source put it, about “the puzzling lack of African-Americans in the management ranks at the Times under Dean,” who became the Times’s first black executive editor in 2014. The buyout offers were not limited to copy editors, and an announcement that senior editor for digital transformation LaSharah Bunting had taken one got people buzzing. She follows the departures last year of prominent black journalists like Lydia Polgreen (editor in chief of HuffPost), Dana Canedy (administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes) and Simone Oliver (editor of magazine & lifestyle publishers partnerships at Facebook). “My effort to diversify has been intense and persistent,” Baquet said in December. “I have a commitment to it and . . . it’s gotten better in the past year.”

In January, the New York Times publicly ridiculed its copy desk in a report to readers entitled, "Journalism That Stands Apart," a survey of its newsroom that included these quotes:
Reporters said they wanted more helpful interaction with their editors at the outset; less editing in the middle; and more attention to presentation and promotion. There was much frustration about stories being held because of print considerations. And several editors and reporters said they would like to see a copy editing process that was more responsive to the complexity of the story and the urgency of the news.
“Every story feels like a fire hydrant — it gets passed from dog to dog, and no one can let it go by without changing a few words.”
“We spend too little time thinking about how stories will be told, which means we get too many stories that are middling in every way. I’d like to see more time spent brainstorming and workshopping ideas at the front end, and being more willing to kill ideas that don't rise to the level of memorable.”
“Hire editors and reporters who don’t need to have their hands held. Honestly, how can we still afford to have five editors arguing for hours over a routine day story? The print mentality still rules the newsroom, from the top down. But it is important to maintain the commitment to copy editing, as it is essential to the quality of the journalism and the reputation of the news site.”
“There is too much editing on the copy desks, where editors are adhering to a style that is increasingly becoming far too rigid for the Times.”
“Too often, on breaking, competitive stories, the time from the reporter filing, to the slot publishing, is far too long. I get the impression that the backfield and copy desk are overloaded and have trouble prioritizing.”
“Most of the time, you time and edit stories to print requirements, no matter what the official doctrine says. I've had things hold for weeks while waiting for a print slot.”
Now, six months later, the Times cuts copy editors.

And floor space at its headquarters.

Feuding with The Donald never works because those who chose to do so are remarkably reckless with their lives. I cannot think of a dumber place for a newspaper to skimp than on its copy desk.

Caution: Readers occasionally may laugh out loud at the media as they read this account of Trump's election.

It is available on Kindle, and in paperback.

Caution: Readers occasionally may laugh out loud at the media as they read this account of Trump's nomination.

It is available on Kindle, and in paperback.

Autographed copies of both books are available by writing me at

Please follow me on Twitter.

Friend me on Facebook.


  1. …And don't mess with a grizzly mom, either:

    Report: Sarah Palin to Subpoena NYT Editors & Reporters, Demand ‘Every Internal Communication’ About Her Since 2011

  2. But the NYT broke the story on Obama spying on Trump. The NYT is failing because it is in bed with Trump.
    BTW - where did the Scaramucci post go?
    Pray for Mike Pence. He will soon be inheriting a train wreck.

    1. Well, it depends.

      The NYT, in Jan, did report wiretapped data used to investigate Trump and his associates. However, they did not claim it was spying.

      So, in that sense, yes, the NYT inadvertently revealed Obama spied on Trump.

      Heat Street, on the other hand, was one of the first, if not the first, news org to assert Obama spied on Trump.

      In March, after Trump tweeted that Obama spied in him, the NYT followed with this headline ...

      "Trump, Offering No Evidence, Says Obama Tapped His Phones."

      So, the NYT did put 2 and 2 together first or even last.

      Trump is not going anywhere. It's a Democrat and GOPe wet dream, but like wet dreams go away when you grow up!

    2. " ... spied [o]n him ..."

      "So, the NYT did [not] put 2 and 2 together first or even last."

      Jeez I need a copy editor

  3. From the NYT above: “Every story feels like a fire hydrant — it gets passed from dog to dog, and no one can let it go by without changing a few words.”

    I recall Robert A. Heinlein once saying that he often left something undesirable in his submitted copy on purpose. Why? Because the editors liked the flavor better once they've peed in it themselves. (My paraphrase, I can't find the actual quote online.)

    He reckoned it was better to let the editorial dogs do their business on a part of his story that wasn't too important, otherwise they might really screw up his manuscript in a big way (which they had been known to do.)

    I think he may be looking down & laughing at what the NYT is doing to itself!

    1. “You have to give an editor something to change, or he gets frustrated. After he pees in it himself, he likes the flavor much better, so he buys it.”

      ― Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

    2. Thanks! I was pretty close, but it's always nice to hear the Master's words directly!

  4. My sympathy-meter is pegged at 100% BELOW Zero for the NYT. (Not to mention the rest of the enemedia.)

  5. I'm not sure sure, Don. This lot seem not to learn a bloody thing no matter how many eggs you plaster their face with.

  6. The Mainstream Media are going to need therapy after the first year of the Trump Administration.

    So MUCH therapy.

  7. I had to stop reading when I could no longer see thru the tears filling my eyes.