August 6, 2007

Let's get small.

I saw the notice the other day saying that The New York Times was going to get a little smaller, but reading today's paper, the first smaller one, it didn't register until I got to the editorial page. Then: shock! Only 2 columns of letters instead of 3! The editorials look huge and dominating. I've always liked the letters. I read many more letters than editorials.

The editors try to mollify us:
The available space for letters in print has been reduced by about a third.

Online, we present a bigger sampling of letters on subjects of greatest reader interest. And we will run other letters that were selected for publication but for which there was no room in the print version.

... [A]ll letters will be archived and become part of The Times's permanent record.
It feels like the first step toward the seemingly inevitable day when there will be no paper version.

You know I still feel bad about the downsizing of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. What great fashion magazines these were back in the 1970s when they were huge and you could see what was in the photographs. What's the point of getting fabulous models and clothes and lighting and poses for a Newsweek-sized format?

But the effect of shrinking the NYT is almost nothing... until you get to the editorial page. I can't shake the feeling that the editors are encroaching on the letter writers.

Coincidentally, I'm going to cancel my print subscription when I move to Brooklyn. (Soon!) I can't picture "home delivery" when living in an apartment. And if I have to pick it up on the newsstand, will I ever do that? I've gradually been shifting to reading only on line anyway. I used to dive right into the paper ever morning... and then turn to my blog. But over the years of blogging, I've transitioned to going onto the blog first and reading all sorts of things on line before coming around to the paper. Sometimes, now, the paper sits there all day, unopened. Instead of the old eagerness about reading the paper first thing in the morning, I feel the physical object is chiding me. I don't like physical objects chiding me.

Please, NYT, don't take this personally. It's not because you got small. It's not you. It's me.


MadisonMan said...

I think you'll pick up the Times at a newstand when you want to do the Crossword Puzzle or acrostic. Doing such things online is not very satisfying.

Adrian said...

How to Lose A Million Dollars (Tax Free!):
Step 1: Own the New York Times.
Step 2: Put your best writers behind a firewall, embrace a cookie-cutter liberal editorial bias, and get consistently out-written and out-reported by (free, non-fire-walled) blogs.
Step 3: When your shareholders come to complain about your idiotic business model and all the money you're losing them, just say,"Well... EXCUUU--UUUUSE MEEEEEE!"

Wurly said...
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reader_iam said...

When we moved to Iowa, I had to give up my daily encounter with the dead-tree version of the NYT because of the unavailability of same-day home delivery, for which I had paid for many years. Eek! So annoying, having to dress and run around to the few places, at the time, that carried the paper.

Eventually, it became available online, and so I did that, except during the summers when I would spend chunks of time on the East Coast and would immediately revert to the the hard copy. Last summer, however, I noticed that I ended up buying the paper mainly on Sundays and maybe once during the week. This year, I haven't picked it up once, though I read the NYT all the time.

I've been thinking that I would subscribe again upon moving back East, but now I'm not so sure. That's almost an earth-shaking idea, given how much I've always loved newspapers.

But there it is.

Ann Althouse said...

I love the paper newspaper, but I love reading on line more. It's just plain alienation of affections in my case.

Fen said...

Ann, WaPo would like to ask you out. He's a tad less liberal than NYTs, but more fair and balanced re poltics and world events - rarely lies, doesn't gossip about covert ops, and still loves America. Need I mention he has a larger package, and the endurance to match it?

Regardless, glad to see you are dumping that NYTs weasel, whatever your reason.

TC said...

Now you can get home delivery of the NY Sun during the week. It's the best NYC daily.

Kirk said...

"I've always liked the letters. I read many more letters than editorials."

Chesterton once said, in reply to someone who marveled at the size of the letters section is whatever newspaper he was editing at the time, "I get my readers to write much of my content, at no cost to me, and you want me to cut back on that???" [Quote highly paraphrased from a distant memory.]

Bissage said...

"The news is big. It's the papers that got small."

-- Gloria Swanson (sort of)

Original Mike said...

"It feels like the first step toward the seemingly inevitable day when there will be no paper version."

They're still publishing the NYT?

Ann Althouse said...

Yikes! I just canceled!

Pogo said...

The ever-shrinking NYT seems to think their circulation woes and income decline are about the internet and the cost of paper.

But it's their content that needs to be changed. A smaller page size is simply more deck chair shifting.

MadisonMan said...

Yikes! I just canceled!

Did they ask why? And what reason did you actually give?

Palladian said...

Physical newspapers are on the way out. Your iPhone will help fill the void. Physical newspapers will start to seem as dowdy, clumsy and dirty as they are.

EnigmatiCore said...

When a gal says "it's not you, it's me", she is saying "size matters."

Christy said...

I liked the clothes best in Harper's Bazaar, but the articles best in Vogue.

I want an editorial that surprises me, Makes me think about issues in a new way. How hard can it be?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

"Chide," it sighed.

Run and hide. Sit and bide.

She lied.

Boring Made Dull said...

Sorry, I missed something - What's this bit about moving to Brooklyn?

I've been to Madison a couple of times - a lovely town. Well, excepting the toxic lefty atmosphere, but I could deal with that.

shigashide said...

The New York Sun runs hilariously incongruous far-right and libertarian editorials and op/ed pieces. In the early stages of the congestion pricing debate over here, the Sun ran an op-ed on how charging drivers to enter the central business district could be acceptable - if the money was returned in tax breaks.

The best part is that the New York Sun is also a stepping-stone paper (along with the Daily News) for the journalism graduates from NYU and Columbia. I can only imagine how those young liberals feel walking into the newsroom.

The Sun also has top-notch real estate and land use/planning coverage, if you're in either of those fields (I am in the latter). And in physical form, it's a very nice paper to hold.

Steven said...

Coincidentally, I'm going to cancel my print subscription when I move to Brooklyn. (Soon!)

Huh? I thought I read this blog regularly... I must have missed when you said you were moving.

Nick said...

Back in my college days, I was part of a group that was trying to get a new student newspaper started, and some organization (I can't remember the name) sent some folks to help use out. Those guy insisted that the most read section of ANY newspaper is the letters. If those guys were right, this would seem like a pretty dumb move for the NYT.

Bruce Hayden said...

I missed the move announcement too. New job? Retiring? And didn't you just buy a new place last year?

Roger Sweeny said...

How many people realize that letters in the Times are often rejected op-eds? An editor will contact the author and say (roughly), "We don't want to run this as an 800-word column, but if you cut it down, we'll include it as a letter to the editor."

Since it's the Times, few people refuse.

Roger said...

How will we ever keep up with the perfidious housesitters that apparently prey on the unsuspecting literatti that people NYC? Or the adventures of little Maureen Dowd? or any other news that pertains only to the Hamptons?

sammy.finkelman said...

There's no problem with home delivery in an apartment - except the delivery person getting in the building. You will get missed deliveries and need to call, but in the long run you will get it most of the time. When there is a problem, it will run in bunches. (Plus now, if you have home delivery, you have full historical web access for no more)

I've been getting the New York Times for years - and the New York Post, and Wall street Journal, and the New York Sun (all by the same delivery people) and the Daily News separately.

About the paper one day no longer being on paper. taht is what the new York Times sort of predicted on January 1, 2000 with their semi-parody sample paper. (They also included a copy of the january 1, 1900 paper)

Hazy Dave said...
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Hazy Dave said...

I presume your housing needs in Brooklyn are taken care of, but maybe you'll find this amusing anyway:

Apartment Hunting In Brooklyn