Monday, June 27, 2005

New York Times: The Wingnut Edition

The executive editor of the New York Times has written a memo about the future plans of the paper:

In a lengthy memo published the newspaper's Web site, Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, announced several new policies in response to a recent report by the paper's Credibility Committee. Among them is a fresh attempt to diversify the Times' staff and viewpoints, and not in the usual racial or gender ways, but in political, religious and cultural areas as well.

The aim, he wrote, is "to stretch beyond our predominantly urban, culturally liberal orientation, to cover the full range of our national conversation."

The point, Keller wrote, "is not that we should begin recruiting reporters and editors for their political outlook; it is part of our professional code that we keep our political views out of the paper. The point is that we want a range of experience. We have a recruiting committee that tracks promising outside candidates, and that committee has already begun to consider ways to enrich the variety of backgrounds of our reporters and editors.

"First and foremost we hire the best reporters, editors, photographers and artists in the business. But we will make an extra effort to focus on diversity of religious
upbringing and military experience, of region and class."

In other words, the Gray Lady is on her knees (take that as you wish). The wingnuts have won. I used to hear the argument that true diversity is not racial and gender based but the acknowledgement of wingnut views (such as that minorities are lazy and women naturally unable to compete) on each and every issue. But I only heard this from wingnuts. Now the New York Times is repeating the same mantra.

Let's see. Why would the New York Times want to diversify its coverage of news by hiring more ex-military, more Evangelical Christians and more Republicans? For that's what the bland statement above boils down to. Isn't this just a way to pretend that one is increasing diversity while hiring more and more white men? Just consider the recent hirings among the opinion columnists: John Tierney and David Brooks. We don't need women columnists on the Times. One is plenty, even if she's on leave. After all, we have John Tierney telling us that women can't compete, and all the columnist boys telling us what their wives think.

Is it a question of profit maximization? But the majority of New York Times readers are New Yorkers and liberals, I bet. Is it a feasible strategy to try to garner the market which most hates New York Times and everything it stands for, the wingnuts? For every new wingnut the paper hires at least a hundred liberal subscriptions will be canceled. I made that up but I bet it's true. So why on earth is Keller going this way? Towards the chasm of no-return? If anything, the country appears to be turning around from increasing wingnuttization. Does the Times always want to be the last rat boarding the sinking ship with a large suitcase when everyone else is jumping off?

And what about the wingnut newspapers? Do their executives wring their hands and cry bitter tears because they are not diversified enough in their coverage and in their staff? Does Washington Times go out of its way to hire liberals born in urban areas? Does the National Review pine over the absence of progressive viewpoints among its columnists? Of course not. They are wingnuts and their rules are different: to win at any cost.

Keller is really stupid. I hope that he will long regret this idiotic plan. Note that I have nothing against covering all political views, religion or areas of the country, but that is not what the Times is doing. They are scouring the dregs of the journalistic community to find wingnutty mouthpieces with no writing or research talents. Now that is diversity for you in the year 2005.