What has gone so wrong for the NYT? Many things are to blame. The paper’s leftish editorial page is out of step with a large portion of the American public. A high-profile scandal, in which journalist Jayson Blair was caught fabricating articles, damaged its credibility. The biggest factor, however, is the rise of credible challengers — both print and digital — that simply do better journalism. There is little incentive to spend money to read the NYT when superior news coverage (and more sensible editorializing) can be found elsewhere.
The NYT’s science coverage is particularly galling. While the paper does employ a staff of decent journalists (including several excellent writers, such as Carl Zimmer and John Tierney), its overall science coverage is trite. Other outlets cover the same stories (and many more), in ways that are both more in-depth and more interesting. (They are also usually free to read.) Worst of all, too much of NYT’s science journalism is egregiously wrong. More.
Gee, they used to only say that about fringe outfits like us.
A list of examples of questionable coverage follows, then:
For our sake as well as their own, the NYT ought to restrict science writing to only those staff members capable of it. However, if the NYT fails to rectify this problem and continues to demonstrate an inability to meet the minimal standards of acceptable scientific discourse, then maybe it ought to consider axing its science coverage completely.
Either do it right, or don’t do it at all.
Make no mistake, the Gray Lady is dying. It’s not just financial losses, staff layoffs, fake coverage, and self-absorption. Her role is much less necessary in the age of the Internet. Nobody who really wants to know what is going on is reading these red-ink-o-saurs anyway.
As for crackpot views, aw, get real. If we wouldn’t buy and read the tabloid at the checkout counter (space aliens land on White House lawn; Marilyn Monroe was really a man … ), why can’t we be trusted to figure out what’s real on our own? Well, we can and we do.
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