September 24, 2009

Scanning the NYT for something to blog, I said "Has the mainstream news become less substantial?"

On the assumption that my subjective feeling is correct, I want to ask why. A few ideas:

1. They're losing readers, and they think they are losing readers to softer media and it will help to soften up.

2. They're losing money, and they've cut back, so what we're seeing is filler.

3. They know their readership is largely female, and they think fluffier stuff is what women want.

4. They just love Barack Obama so darned much that they want lots of comfy newspaper-upholstery for him to loll about on.


Shanna said...

I don't think this is a new trend. I link it to the inclusion of celebrity gossip on supposed news channels.

rhhardin said...

3. They know their readership is largely female, and they think fluffier stuff is what women want.

The dynamic would be that you don't want to disappoint your fluff readers with other articles.

If they stop reading, you're done.

Henry said...

What has me shaking my head are ledes like this:

Obama Makes Gains at U.N. on Iran and Proliferation

The Newspaper of Record has become the Newspaper of Wishful Thinking.

In the article we find out that Obama wrung a concession from Russia to consider something. And that Russia and China agreed to support a non-binding resolution.

You go guys.

Pogo said...

Best to avoid stories that demand the clutching of pearls.

"A gramme is better than a damn," said Lenina mechanically from behind her hands. "I wish I had my soma!

AllenS said...

The NYT becomes less substantial, because they slant the news/views in a substantial way.

WV: ofung

Bill O'Reilly's Chinese counterpart.

exhelodrvr1 said...

It's been a long time since they have been able to report honestly, on a consistent basis, because it would have interfered with their agenda.

Robert Burnham said...

Don't know about #3. But the others look right on target, especially #4.

David said...

One more time: "Nearly everything about the New York Times can be understood in terms of its yuppie staff and yuppie readership."

J said...

Does the NYT still qualify as mainstream news?

Bob said...

You should have written this post as a poll. I'd pick #4, of course.

bagoh20 said...

The Internet is just way way better. You can instantly find what you are interested in with pictures and video. You can, in seconds, find opposing opinion, definition of terms, man on the street type opinion about it all, background info, etc, etc. You get the fun of doing your own research and expressing your own opinion.

The NYT is a narrow, biased, slow source that simply is not good enough anymore. If you depend on it, you will be relatively uninformed and on the very slow track to knowledge of your world.

I also no longer travel by mule.

bagoh20 said...

You have to admit that if The Times had it's entire staff and resources, but nobody ever heard of them, it would never survive or get your eye time. It would quickly be a very tiny paper and the writers would be aspiring rather than paid.

PatCA said...

All of the above is your answer.

t-man said...

Many years ago, a friend of mine was a producer for "20/20." When I complained about the one-sided nature of their spots (always in favor of plaintiffs, giving plaintiffs lawyers full rein while making business look bad) she explained that their theory was that every story was a drama, and in a drama you need a good guy and a bad guy. Also, to keep viewers, the drama should remain consistent - viewers would be confused if one week the "victim" turned out to be the corporation/business. So the story line remained the same. For political stories the "drama" was that democrats were caring and tried to help, republicans were heartless and only cared about business (which was already tagged as the evil side of the good v. evil narrative.)

Over the years, this theory of "news" bled over into the hard news shows and the newspapers. The scary thing is that the shapers of the news now believe that the "drama" is reality.

wv: quare (a homosexual quadrilateral with four equal side and four right angles)

tim maguire said...

For a long itme, the media's status as gatekeeper of the news helped them hide the degree to which they massaged the news.

Today, as they lose their gatekeeper role and people discover just how much news is left out, the public is turning to other sources for a fuller picture of what's happening in the world.

The media, instead of refocussing to become more complete news sources, are instead grasping harder to what is left of their gatekeeper powers.

A losing strategy for sure. As Michael Malone said, they aren't being killed by the internet, they are only being challenged by the internet. In response to that challenge, they are committing suicide.

edutcher said...

t-man said...

wv: quare (a homosexual quadrilateral with four equal side and four right angles)

No, it's an Irish homosexual ;)

Bruce Hayden said...

The NYT becomes less substantial, because they slant the news/views in a substantial way.

A week or so ago, the NYT didn't report on some big national story that would counter their slant. It may have been the health care protests in Wash., D.C. And their original excuse apparently was that they had cut back on the number of reporters they could afford. But then, it was noted where they had actually sent their reporters, and it turned out that their national reporters were doing fluff pieces of Democrats. And, the rest of the front page was the sort of sensational stuff that they are supposed to be above.

So, yes, they are not reporting a lot of stories at the national level that would hurt their liberal story line, their love of President Obama, or his agenda. I think some of it is buried until CNN or MSNBC is shamed into reporting on it. And then, they can't ignore it, since their readership now knows there is a story out there. So, they slant it like hell, and bury it in the middle of the paper.

Bruce Hayden said...

But their burying stories is going to be just fine, since the Democrats have now decided to subsidize newspapers by allowing them to go non-profit. Since the NYT is already non-profit, and has been for some time now, this just means that they pay even less in taxes, while leaving Pinch in charge and making an exorbitant salary for running his legacy into the ground.

And do you really think that the Democrats in charge right now are going to make sure that those non-profit newspapers don't pay exorbitant salaries or bonuses to their top executives, like they have tried to do with banks, car companies, and insurers? Extremely doubtful.

BJM said...

All of the above choices.

The "mainstream media" no longer exists, if ever it did, as it is increasingly clear that Mainstream America is anathema to Big Media.

Pelalusa said...

Kathryn Jean Lopez has an interesting piece somewhat related to what you're discussing here.