TUESDAY’S LETTERS: From Geraldo to Judy Miller, All Eyes on ‘NY Times’

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By: E&P Staff

Today’s letters all seem to involve The New York Times in one way or another. Whether it’s someone commenting on the paper’s dispute with Geraldo Rivera, its move to paid online content, its recent layoffs, or its lack of investigative vigor when it comes to the Judith Miller/Valerie Plame investigation, all eyes are on the Old Gray Lady. Plus, a bonus letter on innovative ways to treat obituaries of gay people.

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Re: NAHJ Urges Apology from ‘NYT’ in Geraldo Dispute

Even in the highly unlikely event that the ever-grandstanding Rivera is not overwhelmingly guilty in this one particular incident, justice has prevailed. As for the NAHJ, its members should concentrate more on intelligent, unbiased writing and less on defending every turkey with an Hispanic surname.

Dick Larsen
San Diego, Calif.

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Re: Bring ‘Out’ Your Dead? Gay Journos Mull Obit Complexities

I thought The (New Bedford, Mass.) Standard-Times’ obit of horticulture genius Allen Haskell was novel. His obit included both his wife and his gay companion. It read, “Survivors include his widow, Ellena (Brightman) Haskell;…and longtime friend Eugene Bertrand Jr. of New Bedford.”

Also, you should know that I’m writing a feature for Yankee Magazine on Haskell’s gardens. And, I have worked as a correspondent to the Standard-Times.

Lisa Palmer
Freelance Writer
Middletown, R.I.

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Re: TimesSelect and David J Horchak’s letter from Monday:

David J Horchak, speaking confidently “on behalf of paid Internet content”, almost succeeds in making his point, but he falls down when he says that New York Times columnists get paid through the revenues of subscribers. Fact is, the bulk of the money a newspaper earns is through its paid advertisers. The value of subscribers to a newspaper resides fundamentally in their numbers, i.e. how well that aggregate number impresses advertisers, not in their small financial contribution to the paper’s bottom line. And a fair argument can be made that the Times is losing valuable — albeit invisible — readers (also known as “eyeballs”) by their latest move. That can’t be making advertisers happy.

Mary Truchelut
Wilton Manors, Fla.

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Thank you so much for publishing “Time for ‘NY Times’ to Explore Miller’s Tale.

I have written repeatedly to Byron Calame about this issue and have not received any non-automated response, nor have I seen anything in the Times addressing the unbelievably stupid and painfully transparent stonewalling that’s destroying the credibility of the world’s former most prestigious newspaper. I also know from reading comments in the blogs that the Times has been deluged with letters like mine. Hopefully your public voice and eloquent writing will be loud enough to pierce their deaf ears.

I don’t expect Karl Rove to have any integrity, but that’s exactly what I’ve counted on from the New York Times for several decades. I feel personally wounded and betrayed; I’m simply in shock that the NYT could stoop so low; and most of all I’m frothing at the mouth furious.

Please keep hammering away until these willful brats start behaving like adults again.

Anthony Moore

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Re: Joe Strupp’s column on the recent newsroom layoffs, The Last Cut is the Deepest

Somewhere in the middle of your recent column, I read the only line in which you seem to have gotten the point:

“If papers want to entice new readers and bring back old ones, they should change the way they report events.”

Hit the nail right on the head — although I doubt you know why?

Jim Emmerson
Stanley, N.C.

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I was with you until you said that slashed newsrooms wouldn’t win as many Pulitzers. Nonsense, Joe — that would only happen if one paper made the cuts. But the cuts are coming everywhere, and the playing field may be sinking into a swamp, but it’s still a level playing field. They’ll still give out Pulitzers, and the decimated newsrooms will still win them — but for much less interesting and important stories.

And the papers that win will celebrate with champagne, and their CEO’s will say “See? There was no loss of quality!”

Thus will their wisdom be proven.

Mike Peterson
The Post-Star
Glens Falls NY

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Joe I have to say you provide an interesting bit of logic in your story on the 352 newsroom job cuts. Having lost my previous job due to layoffs, I have to say I am not a big fan. However, from what I have seen, Editorial departments have operated and reported for decades with very little oversight from management and as a result very little has change. While every other department in the newspaper business has kept up with the times by modernizing and trying to satisfy customer (read readers/advertisers) demand, the newsroom is still basically an “I’ll cover what I want the way I want and you can’t do anything about it,” as a result of no qualitative or quantitative measure on the measurement of the job. So for years newsrooms ignore the reader and for those years we lose readers. The can of soup is very poor quality and since we cannot improve the quality the only thing to do is cut production costs. I’m not saying cutting the experienced people is the best way to do it, but losing some of the Editors who think they know what everybody should read and think as opposed to what they want is not a bad thing. It’s really amusing that only in the 4th Estate is censorship not only alive and well but also protected as a right.

David J Horchak
Circulation Director
The Herald/The Herald Press

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I just read your article concerning the impact of lost jobs at a number of large national newspapers. I think you have clearly missed the reality of the situation at hand.

The major newspapers are losing readership because of poor performance. I do not wish to read a newspaper that does not report the news, decides to lie about the facts, decides to forward their own political agenda, and when faced with the reality of lying, decide to just ignore it.

People are looking for other sources of information. Just today the NYT has admitted to two incidents of lying…and have done little or nothing to correct their problems…

Claudia Wilson

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You completely missed the point of the phenomenon you are wailing over today. Your article clearly shows it is the arrogance of the media that is causing the decline. Newspapers are a for-profit industry but you attempt to dictate the profit margin and offer an award (Pulitzer) as a sorry excuse for alternative remuneration. See how many trophies are listed at the bottom of your 1040 form. I presume in your world there is never a reason to trim staff, even if declining revenues, subscriptions, and respect indicate that the monopoly is over. Try this angle — the public has finally been offered something of an alternative and is scooping up the actual, unadulterated news as fast as they can get their mouses and clickers on it. This is good old-fashioned market forces showing those who will learn, that there is a sea change happening. This is what the NYT thinks instead: poor me, those dumb people don’t know what they are missing, our opinions about the news are better then facts, we are soooooo smart.

Case in point — let’s charge 50 bucks to read Krugman, Dowd et al.

Keep it up and you will see that greedy market put you out of business entirely. Your report should have mentioned that those sorry newspapers did this to themselves and are showing very little evidence of learning from their mistakes.

Keith Gardner
Alexandria, Va.

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The papers you cite are among the most liberal. The public no longer has to swallow bias, and is moving to other sources for real news. Your comments about papers making “enough” money exposes your personal politics, Joe. Under capitalism, the owners, not the workers, determine what is enough profit.

Dick Larsen
San Diego, Calif.

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It doesn’t take too many reporters to keep repeating the mantra of the New York Times and Washington Post. The lesser the better.

Maybe they are laying off because people (like me) are tired of reading the Leftist, Liberal, Socialistic, Communistic slant every day and are not buying them.

I’ll take the Internet and find my own truth. You can have your newspapers and TV news. Bush Bashing is getting old.

L. Graham
West Palm Beach, Fla.

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Joe Strupp claims the staffing cuts at newspapers won’t help the left wing newspapers regain readers and he is right. He implies that the reason the Times is losing readers is because it is losing to blogs. That excuse reminds me of the last time the newspapers invented the reason no one was reading anymore — diversity. What we were told then was that in order for the Democratic party papers to succeed they needed more diversity; liberals of every color and sexual preference in the newsroom to appeal to the colors of America. It did not work so now we have the excuse that the left wing newspapers can’t compete with bloggers and that is partially true.

the staff in the world will not save them from the financial ruin of their hateful and small minded product. Given that the mainstream media needs to loose power so that Democrat party papers can be replaced by real journalism, I hope they seek reform by going head to head for the readership of the left wing blogs on the net and get lots of awards for it from their liberal limo fans in time for the next sweep of cuts!

Jo Thompson
Boston, Mass.

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