Liberal New York Times writers have a message for their bosses: even we can’t stand our newspaper’s petty, dogmatic, boring, but strident editorial page. The New York Observer reports on the “semi-open revolt” against the editorial page and the grey liberalism of the grey lady’s editorial page:
Said one staffer, “…They’re completely reflexively liberal, utterly predictable, usually poorly written and totally ineffectual. I mean, just try and remember the last time that anybody was talking about one of those editorials. You know, I can think of one time recently, which is with the [Edward] Snowden stuff, but mostly nobody pays attention, and millions of dollars is being spent on that stuff.”Asked by The Observer for hard evidence supporting a loss of influence of the vaunted editorial page, the same Times staffer fired back, “You know, the editorials are never on the most emailed list; they’re never on the most read list. People just are not paying attention, and they don’t care. It’s a waste of money.”
We’ve had some fun here on The Feed before with the Times’ unsigned editorials, noting that they are often deeply unimaginative and dully partisan. Even when an editorial says something mildly new, it’s usually too blandly written and too cautiously expressed to have a significant impact. Driving some of the writers’ fury is their sense that, while the rest of the paper has been hit by massive budget cuts and painful layoffs, the editorial page writers still lives in the old-fashioned Times bubble: hot and cold running assistants, feather-bedded editorial structure, lack of any meaningful accountability. The reporters want the winds of change that have blown through the rest of the paper (mostly to good effect) to blow through the stale corridors of the editorial side as well.It’s harder and harder to find a justification for unsigned newspaper editorials in the contemporary media world. In the old days, newspaper editors might be expected to be in closer touch with the news than their readers. But as the Observer piece notes, the Times editorial staff isn’t part of the news staff. There is no reason on earth that the editorial writers would know more about the news or have more intelligent opinions about world events than the Times writers who spend their time reporting the news.The world has responded to the gradual obsolescence of newspaper editorials by increasingly ignoring them—and New York Times editorials are about as ignorable as these things get. The decision to keep spending millions generating copy that nobody cares about is a bit like paying millions to have the priests of high blue ideology chant Masses in an empty church. It’s an empty ritual that, apparently, makes the Times management feel better about itself. We’re not sure how the shareholders feel.