Friday, April 17, 2009

Sam Roberts Apparently Didn't Get The Craig Whitney "No Sarcasm In Blogs" Memo.

In March, NYT standards editor Craig R. Whitney issued "News Blogs and Online Columns," a 4-page rules memo for its ever-expanding menu of blogs. Right at the top, Whitney made it clear that NYT blogs must avoid "sarcasm," or what is sometimes referred to as "snark."

Whitney wrote:

There are many different kinds of blogs on our site. Some of them are indistinguishable from news stories. Some have a personal point of view (see below). Others have a breezy, conversational tone, and resemble some of the lighter articles and personal essays of the print paper’s feature sections. What should be avoided in all of them is any hint of racist, sexist or religious bias, or any suggestion of nasty, snide, sarcastic, or condescending tone — “snark.” If something could easily fit in a satirical Web site for young adults, it probably shouldn’t go into the news pages of Our ethics code promises that in all dealings with readers, “civility applies.”

In a podcast transcript posted yesterday on the NYT's City Room blog, veteran NYT reporter Sam Roberts rhapsodized about the 1974 movie "The Taking Of Pelham One, Two Three" that involved a $1 million blackmail scheme and 18 hostages on a subway train, and a Mayor (modelled, in fact, on Ed Koch) who spends as much time worrying about his public image as he does the hostages' fate.

After noting that the mayor agrees to pay the $1 million ransom to free the trapped passengers, Roberts concludes:

Wow. A million dollars for 18 votes. That’s even more than Mayor Bloomberg spends.

Let's see...that's nasty, snide, sarcastic and condescending!

Also, it's not very funny.


Anonymous said...

Is "a million dollars for 20 votes" any funnier?



Anonymous said...



In New York City, you consider that nasty? To make a little fun of a multi-billionaire mayor who, in fact, is doing his damnest to buy the electorate and therefore the election?

As for condescending, how so?

The NYTPicker has such a rarefied sensibility


You're right. "Nasty" and "condescending" go too far. "Snide," too. Guess we got a little carried away. Our only point was that in using sarcasm, Roberts violated the NYT's blogging guidelines.