Damn! Just as we were really getting to know all those wonderful, wacky personalities at the NYT's daily Page One meeting -- thanks to its inclusion in "TimesCast," the paper's five-day-a-week promotional video -- the NYT has gone and yanked it from the format.
Yes, it's true: As of June 2, the NYT has quietly dropped the Page One opening sketch from "TimesCast," in favor of a mix of interviews and analysis from NYT reporters and editors.
We've lost those langorous shots of executive editor Bill Keller's chin-stroking as he considered the commentary of his editors on that day's news. We're denied our daily dose of the impressively-tressed Jim Roberts, in his role as "Stage Manager" of the morning meeting. We'll miss the furrowed brow on foreign editor Susan Chira's face, the twangy confidence of business editor Larry Ingrassia, the apple-polisher persona of national editor Richard Berke...to say nothing of our endless curiosity about all those women in the second row! Who were they? Were they editors or paid extras? Now we'll never know.
We're no television experts, but it seemed to us that the more effective way to improve TimesCast was to expand the morning meeting's role, not eliminate it. We wanted more personality, more cross-talk, more debate. It was fun whenever Keller commanded a piece, or an angle, from one of his subordinates. We loved checking the paper the next morning to see whether anyone actually listened to him! (They never did.)
Instead, TimesCast has now become more focused than ever on explanatory pieces from its reporters. Not a good move. Henry Fountain has been doing an impressive job covering the oil spill in print, but to put it politely, his television persona lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. David Sanger, Brian Stelter, David Carr -- you're all whiz-bang reporters, but with you as regulars, we won't be putting TimeCast on our TiVo Season Pass.
And while Keller may have the matinee-idol looks to make it big, to call his delivery in the one-on-one format "wooden" isn't really being fair to wood.
We've emailed the NYT public-relations team to get comment on the switch. We'll update if we hear from them.