Arthur Brisbane has written a rumination about his two years’ as the New York Times’ public editor. It is an interesting piece, as notes the way in which (a) the New York Times has slimmed its one massive corporate holdings so that they consist only of core news corporations and (b) it has encouraged its employees to embrace social media. Most interesting to conservatives, of course, is that Brisbane admits that Progressivism is the name of the game at the Times:
When The Times covers a national presidential campaign, I have found that the lead editors and reporters are disciplined about enforcing fairness and balance, and usually succeed in doing so. Across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism — for lack of a better term — that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.
As a result, developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in The Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects.
From this, Brisbane concludes that the New York Times will cease to be a regional newspaper and became the paper of record for an ideological mindset. I think he’s correct.
The other thing that struck me about Brisbane’s article — and this is a picayune observation on my part — is how awkward some of his writing is. I don’t blame him. I recognize that language is changing and that I, with my old-fashioned grammatical rules, occupy the rearguard, not the vanguard. Nevertheless, this sentence grated:
Back then, I viewed The Times as a deeply resourced news organization that was challenged to recreate itself in an environment that was smashing old media and vaulting new forms to prominence.
“Deeply resourced news organization”? That isn’t elegant. And if you’re going to use that phrase, clarity dictates that it should be written “deeply-resourced.” Either way — yuk. The other thing I dislike about the sentence is Brisbane’s passive voice: the Times “was challenged.” Who challenged it? Well, the second part of Brisbane’s sentence indicates that changes in the marketplace dictated changes in the Times’ business approach, but the passive voice also allows him to avoid addressing the fact that the Times abandoned the pretense of journalistic objectivity, something he only addresses at the end of the article, in the part I quoted above. If you’re going to become a partisan paper, that’s also going to force you to change your business approach — not to mention see you losing vast sums of money so that you have to sell of peripheral holdings.