Friday, April 24, 2009

NYT's LaForge To NYTPicker: "You Should Stop Being A Coward And Use Your Real Name. :)"

The above message came to us at 7:50 this morning from Patrick LaForge, editor of the NYT's City Room blog, via our new Twitter account.

Before we get around to answering him, can we just say that we love Twitter? This we share with LaForge, who Twitters several times a day with terrific news updates. We just starting Twittering last night, at Check us out!

Okay, so we've decided to answer LaForge's question, briefly.

When we launched this blog last November, we committed ourselves to bringing readers fresh information and insight about the NYT. We weren't going to just repurpose NYT stories for our readers the way Gawker does. Our goal was -- and is -- to offer information you can't get anywhere else.

We've broken news stories (last week's scoop about the UMass plagiarism of a NYT op-ed column was one), reported on patterns (like Ben Brantley's recent run of rave reviews) and spotlighted the career paths of little-known NYT personnel (such as our posts on Joshua Brustein, Ross Schneiderman and Julie Bosman).

We also try to catch the NYT publishing inferior journalism -- which it often does. We noted when Freakonomics blogger Steven Levitt pushed a product made by his friend's wife. We examined an excessively-thin City Section cover story on the missing 23-year-old teacher, exposed another City Section cover as after the fact (and beside the point), and reported on NYT page-one stories built around a single interview. We found an anti-Israel interview with Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner that we put online, along with a video of cultural editor Sam Sifton making fun of his staff. We look for errors and inconsistencies in Maureen Dowd's thinking and reporting; that keeps us busy, too. We devoted a lot of energy to covering the NYT's schizophrenic Caroline Kennedy coverage. We showcase bad ledes.

We like stuff, too. For example, we were blown away by this week's slide show/narrative, "An Ambush and a Comrade Lost," from Afghanistan by Tyler Hicks and Chris Chivers. Brilliant, chilling battle narrative at its 21st-century best, at under three minutes. Dudes, stick that shit behind a pay wall and we would totally pay you extra for the website.

Well, if we're so proud of what we've done, then why do we remain anonymous? Shouldn't we be proud enough of our website to put our names on it? A reasonable question.

The answer is that if you knew who we were, it would compromise our ability to function. Everything we say would become filtered through the reader's perception of our qualifications, our conflicts, and our personalities. This way, for better or worse, you focus on what we say, not who we are. We like that.

We don't like the "coward" label very much, Mr. LaForge, because it doesn't really apply to us. We don't make personal judgements about the people we write about. The NYTPicker sticks to the NYT itself, and to the people inside it. Everything we write about is public. Sometimes we go for a laugh, but hey, that's show biz.

Oh, and by the way: we love the NYT. Isn't that obvious?


Anonymous said...

Nicely played, Stelter!

Amanda said...

It's not Stelter. He loves the Times too much.

Based on the evidence, NYTPicker's a disgruntled former Times reporter, late 30s/early 40s. Probably has a day job, judging from the posting times. Talented writer with good sense of humor. That should narrow it down quite a bit.

Anonymous said...

Hey, doesn't NYT spell it judgment? Perhaps the NYTPicker needs a copy editor. Still, I love the site!

Dave Barnes said...

Coward is correct.
I post publicly.