New York Times Editing Slashback: You Reap What You ‘Sew’

As CNN’s Brian Stelter noted yesterday, “fascinating public editor column by Liz Spayd, all about the NYT editing processes.”

Readying The Times for Editing 3.0


THE NEW YORK TIMES has a reputation for impeccable editing. Not just because it can turn one particular story into a showpiece, but because it achieves a high level of consistency and polish across its entire report. It’s part of what readers pay for, and what they’ve come to expect.

Its editing architecture, originally constructed in the bountiful days of print, allows for multiple layers of editing that help keep copy clean and errors to a minimum. Except for breaking news, most stories are reviewed by three editors, with up to six or more if the article is headed for home page prominence or A1.

Soon this conveyor will be replaced by a bespoke editing system built primarily around digital.

Bespoke editing. Bestill, my heart.

Unfortunately, as Spayd pointed out, that means “sizable cuts in the editing ranks” and a reduction in “low-value line editing.”

Yeah but . . .

Consider the current state of the Grey Lady’s editing, as evidenced two pages later in the latest column from Times Op-It Girl Maureen Dowd. She likened Trump whisperer Steve Bannon to




The online edition amended that wayward verb to “sows,” but really, the corn was off the cob by then.

Sew . . .

The post-editing era at the New York Times has officially begun.

Sow sad, as the tweeter-in-chief might say.

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Civilians Who Run Full-Page Ads in the New York Times (“Zappy” Zapolin Edition)

From our All Those Dollars and No Sense desk

It’s amazing the number of people who will shell out six figures to run a New York Times ad that no one will read.

Yesterday’s Times featured the latest sucker who should have just set his money on fire.




The ad addresses opioid addiction and its medical solutions. Here’s the lede.




And who exactly is the author of this plea to a president who doesn’t give a damn?




You can learn more about Zappy here (his version) or here (Google News version). Presumably, bad news for Suboxone would be good business for Zapolin, Inc.

Either way, he’s an adiot.

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Ted Williams’ Former Florida Home Gone Fishin’ for a Buyer

The Splendid Splinter’s old fishing shack is back on the market.

Well, maybe not shack.

From Friday’s Wall Street Journal Mansion section:

Ted Williams’s Florida Fishing Spot Goes on the Market


In the Florida Keys, the onetime home of baseball star Ted Williams is going on the market for $4.2 million.

Built in the early 1950s, the house is located on Upper Matecumbe Key, one of several islands that make up Islamorada. Mr. Williams, who moved to the area to pursue sport fishing, bought the home around 1960 and lived there for decades, according to the book “Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero” by Leigh Montville. A local celebrity, Mr. Williams practiced casting from his backyard, according Mr. Montville’s book. In 2000, a street near the house was renamed “Ted Williams Way.”

The current owner, Mark Richens, bought the four-bedroom, 3200-square-foot home for $1.8 million in 2002. He paid another $320,000 for an adjoining three-bedroom home that became a guesthouse.

Hey, John Henry – makes a great Christmas gift.

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Heads Up! NYT’s Jim Rutenberg Footnotes Today’s Column

Well this is new.

New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg has a couple of term-paper-style footnotes in his piece today.

Check out the middle and righthand columns.




And here are the footnotes themselves, at the end of the piece.




The hardscanning staff didn’t see any other footnotes in the Business section, or in the A section for that matter. No editor’s note either.

But we hasten to point out that Alex Weprin of Politico’s Morning Media also noticed  the oddity.

—Is the Times adding footnotes to articles now? Take a look at the bottom of Jim Rutenberg’s latest column

Huh. Maybe this will go down as part of Donald J. Trump’s legacy.

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One America, Two Different Worlds (Jonathan Chiat Edition)

First in what promises to be a long-running series

It’s news to no one that liberals and conservatives in this great land of ours live in parallel universes.

But with the ascension of Hair Apparent Donald J. Trump to the nation’s highest office, the differences are starting to get kind of . . . granular.

Take, for instance, the Jonathan Chiat 7-10 (as it were) split.

From New York Times op-ed columnist David Leonhardt’s latest piece.

Three days from now, [Donald J.] Trump and congressional Republicans will have the power to begin undoing [Barack] Obama’s presidency. And yet they are going to have a harder time than many people realize.

A clear explanation of why appears in a new book, “Audacity,” by Jonathan Chait of New York magazine, one of today’s must-read political journalists. He documents the scale of Obama’s domestic policy, on health care, taxes, finance, climate, civil rights and education. Chait also explains why it won’t simply disappear.

But The Weekly Standard’s eminently readable Andrew Ferguson would just as soon make Chiat disappear.

Courtiers in Denial

Obama’s rapidly shrinking legacy.

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-12-33-18-amWe shouldn’t doubt that President Obama will read the new book by the liberal journalist Jonathan Chait. The title alone will be enough to grab him: Audacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will Prevail. He will read it slowly and carefully, Montblanc at the ready to underline notable passages and jot down marginalia (How true! and Excellent point! and Tell it to Michelle!).

And when he puts it aside he will feel just a little bit uneasy. Maybe he’ll even ink a note on the final page: This is the best they can do?

Chait writes about politics for New York magazine, and in the crowded imperial court of Obama’s journalists he stands apart—the courtier’s courtier, the boot-licker against whom all boot-licking must be measured.

So, to recap:

Jonathan Chiat is either 1) a “must-read” political journalist, or 2) “the boot-licker against whom all boot-licking must be measured.”

You tell us.

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Mike Allen Shameless Trump Suck-Up Watch (Parts 1-3)

Mike Allen, the man the White House used to wake up to, has moved his home address from Politico to the delusional startup Axios, where he currently curries favor with D.C.’s movers and shakers – and especially Trumpsters.

Exhibit A

Mikey’s servile selfie at Donald Trump’s off-the-record Christmas party.




Exhibit B

Allen’s brown-nosing interview last week with Trump administration house organ Breitbart News.

Mike Allen: ‘Very Smart’ Breitbart News Sees Business, Tech, Media, Politics ‘Colliding and Converging’


Mike Allen, co-founder of both Politico and the soon-to-launch Axios media company, praised Breitbart News for covering critical issues so often ignored and scorned by other outlets, implying they paved the way for his own new media effort.

“We admire so much of what’s been built at Breitbart. And—Charlie, Matt—one of the things we like about Breitbart is you do things people aren’t. And both journalistically and as a business, that’s a great place to be right now,” Allen told SiriusXM hosts Matthew Boyle and Charlie Spiering.

Geez, Mike – get a room.

Exhibit C

Allen’s Axios AM newsletter yesterday, which featured this item under the headline “Let’s get ready to rumble.”

New threshold for anti-Trump one-upmanship: Rep. John Lewis of Georgia tells Chuck Todd for tomorrow’s “Meet the Press”: “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.”

Trump tweeted back this morning: “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to … mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!”

What’s really sad is that Allen didn’t even have the decency to fact-check Trump’s tweet. But his successors at Politico Playbook – Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman – did.


WELL … Say what you want about Lewis, but “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results” isn’t the way most people would describe a guy who bled and was jailed in the struggle for civil rights. Also, his district isn’t really falling apart. He has represented the tony Buckhead section of Atlanta for years — he now splits it with another lawmaker — and he represents Emory University and some of the city’s most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods.

Memo to Mikey: That’s what a real journalist does.

We’ll pass over in silence – for now – Allen’s longstanding allegiance to advertisers, which the Washington Post’s Eric Wemple has dutifully chronicled.

But we’re guessing that will be a whole nother Mike Allen Suck-Up Watch in the near future.

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Donald J. Quixote Is America’s First Potemkin President

The new White House administration is pretty much Donald Trump and Kellyanne Panza (tip o’ the pixel to New York Times columnist Frank Bruni).

From Russell Berman’s piece in The Atlantic:

A President Without an Administration

The Trump transition is behind schedule in vetting its nominees, and struggling to fill senior positions before the inauguration.


President-elect Donald Trump will take the reins of the federal government on January 20. How many people he will have by his side on that date is very much in question.

The Trump transition is substantially behind the pace set eight years ago by Barack Obama’s team, and a late start to vetting Cabinet nominees for security clearances and financial conflicts of interest threatens to leave many senior posts vacant when Trump assumes the presidency in just two-and-a-half weeks. The delays, which were described by people familiar with the transition as well as several congressional aides, could hamper the new president’s ability to deliver the swift change he has promised in Washington.

How far behind is the Trump transition?

So far behind, it ran this ad in on page B4 of Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal.





Look next for an ad in the Farm Journal magazine for Trump’s Agriculture Secretary.


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Fred Taylor, Gil Scott-Heron, and the Bicentennial Blues

Sad to say, Saturday’s Boston Globe featured this front-page probituary of Boston jazz impresario Fred Taylor.

Another blow to the local jazz scene: Legend Fred Taylor fired ousted at Scullers

Fred Taylor, a legendary figure on the Boston jazz scene since the 1950s, has been abruptly fired as entertainment director at screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-1-12-02-amScullers Jazz Club, angering local jazz fans and signaling a changing of the guard at the well-known music venue.

Taylor, whose acts at the club included Lou Rawls, Wynton Marsalis, and Norah Jones, had presided at Scullers since shortly after it opened 27 years ago at the DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel. He e-mailed friends this week to say he’d been let go by the hotel’s management.

What made Fred Taylor a legend? Just this:

A fixture on the Boston jazz scene for several decades, Taylor, now in his 80s, is perhaps best known as the former owner of the storied jazz clubs Paul’s Mall and the Jazz Workshop on Boylston Street, where he booked such luminaries as Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Charles Mingus, and George Benson.

And, quite memorably, Gil Scott-Heron in 1976.

Forty years ago, I was a minor league Boston music critic, writing (under multiple bylines from J. Redmond Carroll and John Redmond to J.R. Tardi) for local B music publications including – but not limited to – Musician’s Guide, Nightfall, NightLife, PopTop, and Rock Around the World.

As I’ve previously noted:

In the summer of 1976 (‘Bicentennial Fever Grips Hub’ – even Little Stevie’s House of Pizza redecorated in red white and blue), I saw two of Gil Scott-Heron’s three performances at Paul’s Mall during Fourth of July week.

He delivered serious versions of “Bicentennial Blues” and “The Bottle,” but his rendition of “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” was absolutely transcendent.

Both times – and in fact every time I got into Paul’s Mall or the Jazz Workshop in those days – I had to talk my way through Fred Taylor, who was tough, dismissive, and, ultimately, soft-hearted toward anyone who loved jazz.

Memo to Fred: Here’s what you got for your kindness 40 years ago.




Admittedly, I was still writing with training wheels back then, but I think the lede holds up okay.

Anyway, here’s “The Bottle” from that great gig.



Also, that transcendent rendition of “Home Is Where the Hatred Is.”



Thank you, Fred Taylor, for so often letting me into your home where the jazz was.

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Why Boston Isn’t New York (Billy Joel Concert Edition)

Full disclosure: The hardworking staff grew up in Manhattan, but we’ve lived in Boston for the past 42 years. So we can’t help noticing the yin and yang of the two cities.

Latest example: The Billy Joel concert index.

Yesterday’s Boston Globe featured this American Express/Fenway Park full-page ad.




Then again, yesterday’s New York Times featured this Citi/Madison Square Garden counterpart.




Not judging. Just saying.

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Civilians Who Run Full-Page Ads in the New York Times (RefuseFascism Edition)

From our All Those Dollars and No Sense desk

The last time This Desk reported on a Trump Derangement Syndrome spasm in the Times, it was this $200,000 full-page ad in July from Josh Tetrick, the vegan mayonnaise czar of Hampton Creek.




Body copy for the condiment impaired.




(We’ll pass over in silence the whole Hampton Creek buy-back rumpus that subsequently surfaced in the news media, providing a reason to turn away from Josh Tetrick to say who he is.)

Now comes this Trumpiopathic full-page ad in yesterday’s New York Times.




Closer-up of body copy in the name of humanity.





Now call the roll of the refuserati, some of whom presumably paid for the ad:




Once again, file under: Just set your money on fire.

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