David Roberts @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Aug. 16, 2019 1 min read

explores the dysfunctions at the @nytimes & some evidence of movement. Above all it seems obvious to me that the paper really, really needs to get a public editor back.  http://pressthink.org/2019/08/bad-headline-small-changes-at-the-new-york-times/ 

Everything about the back & forth between the NYT (& the MSM generally) & its critics frustrates me. I don't feel like critics have quite found a way to capture what's really wrong & consequently the Times is just able to keep appealing to "neutrality" to justify everything.

It's not individual words that are the main issue - whether NYT reporters are allowed to say "lie" or "racist." It's not even individual stories. The problem is more general & diffuse, difficult to trace to individual editorial decisions & thus easy to evade responsibility for.

What frustrates people is not that they want to see the word "racist" in the paper. What frustrates them is that the country's core institutions are under assault by a radical ethnonationalist minority & the sense of crisis is not being conveyed.

Instead it looks like the ethnonationalists & their increasingly authoritarian leaders/behavior are being continually normalized, smooshed into a bland both-sides paste. NYT is covering this like it's normal. THAT'S what bugs people.

Problem is, no one, including me, can say precisely what it would mean for the NYT to cover it like it's NOT normal. No one can say exactly what they ought to be doing. We just keep having these weirdly specific proxy arguments over a headline or a word choice.

This isn't new -- I've felt this frustration since the early 2000s. The conventions of US journalism are clearly being exploited by radical reactionaries, and have been for a while. But it's just really hard to pinpoint, at the level of individual decisions, what should change.

So NYT keeps blowing crucial political stories, critics keep being frustrated, and NYT keeps defending itself through recourse to these same old conventions, which it clings to because it doesn't know what to replace them with. And nothing changes. Frustrating. </fin>


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