Sunday, January 17, 2010

THE SUNDAY FUNNIES: Tom Friedman Mentions His Pal Mandelbaum For The 89th Time...It's The "Tip Of The Iceberg" Again...Kaminer Can't Read Bus Names!

A few hours ago, former NYT restaurant critic Frank Bruni (we miss you, Frank!) tweeted that there's "something for everyone" on today's NYT front page.

Maybe so, but doesn't Bruni sometimes privately wish the Sunday NYT found room for that wondrous staple of American journalism, the Sunday Funnies? We do. And so, to supplement your morning diet with a dose of dopeyness, The NYTPicker presents a new, occasional feature we're going to call The Sunday Funnies!


Where would Michael Mandelbaum, the foreign policy expert, be without his good friend Thomas L. Friedman? Looks like we'll never have to know. The NYT op-ed columnist mentioned Mandelbaum today for the 89th time in his NYT career -- a string of promotional references that stretches back to 1989!

Friedman's so nice to Mandelbaum that he often quotes him saying the same thing twice.

Here's Mandelbaum in a Friedman column on December 5, 2004:

"This is not just a win-win," said the Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum. "This is a win-win-win-win-win."

And then, in Friedman's December 27, 2008 column, four years later:

A gasoline tax “is not just win-win; it’s win, win, win, win, win,” says the Johns Hopkins author and foreign policy specialist Michael Mandelbaum.

Here's a Mandelbaum quote from a June 23, 2009 Friedman column:

“People do not change when you tell them they should; they change when they tell themselves they must,” observed Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy specialist.

And here's almost the same quote -- with a "they" changed to a "we" -- four months later, in Friedman's October 28, 2o09 column!

“People do not change when we tell them they should,” said the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum. “They change when they tell themselves they must.”

As for their friendship, well -- Friedman has only once, in two decades of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism for the NYT, referred to Mandelbaum as his friend. But there's plenty of proof of their closeness in the acknowledgements to Friedman's books.

From Hot, Flat and Crowded:

As for the tutors and helpers, the list always starts with the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum. Our endless conversations about energy, politics, and foreign policy constantly served to sharpen my arguments.

From Longitudes and Attitudes:

I benefited equally from my nearly daily conversations with Michael Mandelbaum, the foreign policy expert at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Michael's original mind, and his deep knowledge of history and ability to listen to my stories from the field and help me put them in context, were absolutely invaluable.

From The World Is Flat:

And special thanks to my soul mates and constant intellectual companions Michael Mandelbaum and Stephen P. Cohen. Sharing ideas with them is one of the joys of my life.

Oh, and by the way, Steve: in case you're wondering, Tom has only quoted you 69 times! We think he likes Mike better than you.


Matt Richtel's page-one story about cell-phone talking-and-walking accidents may be a little short on the tangible evidence -- the only hard numbers he's got report 1,000 pedestrians visiting emergency rooms for such accidents in 2008.

Constrast that to a NYT story back in May -- buried on page 7 of Science Times -- that reported 86,000 emergency room visits last year by people who tripped over their pet!

But it's a bona fide trend. How do we know? Simple. According to the expert Richtel quotes, it's "the tip of the iceberg"!

Yes, that classic cliche -- "the tip of the iceberg." Where would lazy reporters be without it?

At the NYT, today's reference represents, well, the tip of the iceberg. It has appeared in the NYT 56 times in the past year -- or more than once a week -- and 1,160 times since 1981. (Interesting historical note: the expression first turned up in a NYT article in 1964, nearly 52 years after the Titanic introduced the notion of iceberg perils into the lexicon.)

What does the expression mean? According to The NYTPicker Dictionary, it is defined as "a commonly-used metaphor that allows a reporter to suggest a trend where the numbers don't support it."


She's no Alessandra Stanley -- not yet. But Ariel Kaminer, the Sunday Metropolitan section's City Critic, is showing nascent signs of carelessness that could one day put her in direct competition with the NYT's correction queen.

Today's NYT corrections column includes a four-in-one for Kaminer, fixing some unfortunate flubs in her piece last week about bus routes. Somehow, Kaminer managed to make some significant errors in reading the names of the buses she rode:

The City Critic column in some editions last Sunday, about travel routes that will be affected the most by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s planned service cuts, misidentified the bus that the writer boarded in the Bronx, the beginning of one route, and misstated the route name of the bus she boarded in Queens that brought her to her destination, 26th Avenue. The Bronx bus is the Bx16, not the B16, and the Queens bus is the Q28; there is no B28 bus. The column also misstated the name of the Bronx cemetery that she passed on her travels. It is Woodlawn Cemetery, not Woodland.

Woodland Cemetery, huh? That's in Staten Island.


Anonymous said...

how abou the city room's umpteenth park slope children story? are there other neighborhoods in NYC? Do Times editors live elsewhere?

Anonymous said...

And a few pages later, we get a reference to former senator "Jacob Javitz."

Javitz...that name sounds familiar. Didn't they name a konvenshun senter after him?

Anonymous said...

Funny you mention Richtel's relentless attack on everything bad about cell phones. Long ago, I was reading a newspaper while walking in a park and then I ran into a pole. It smarted for a second. Should we ban newspapers too?