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media in the 21st century
No One Is Covering the Big Apple

The journalism professor Greg David highlights the remarkable collapse in reporting on America’s largest city:

For the week beginning Jan. 29, The New York Times published 48 stories on New York. That’s less than half the 109 stories for the same week in 2009 and less than a third of the 153 stories in 2001.

Meanwhile in Queens, with 2.3 million residents, 35,000 major crimes a year and 200,000 criminal cases annually, the pressroom at the courthouse is locked because no one wants to use it.

The shift away from local coverage has a lot to do with the changing market pressures that define the modern media landscape. But the political and ideological ethos of the people who work in news is probably also at play. That New York City is dominated by Democrats might make the urban corruption stories less interesting to the left-leaning press corps, for example. And the fact that journalists, like most college-educated professionals, are often more cosmopolitan in their orientation can create blind spots about local issues.

Regardless of the underlying causes, this is a serious institutional failure that is bad for New Yorkers and Americans at large.

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  • FriendlyGoat

    The link contains this phrase about the Times—–“whose readership and priorities are now global, not local”. To that we could add the trend everywhere for people to be online with endless choices of what to read, where to read it and why.

  • ვეფხისტყაოსანი

    I don’t see how this trend can be reversed; local news is covered by journalists who simply aren’t as smart and don’t write as well as those the NY Times and other big papers hire (though even the big names have trouble with copy editing and basic fact checking — as do publishers of all sorts, at least in English). The difference is even more stark on television — although I’m basing my judgement on the local TV news of 20+ years ago, when I stopped watching.

    Besides the economics, I blame sports announcers and sports talk in general. Many Americans watch sports and actually listen to sports journalists and each other, which can have no salutary effect on their appreciation of English prose. (When I watch sports, I keep the sound off; this has been my practice for decades. One friend told me I was un-American.)

    • Boritz

      The day after a garden-variety mass-murderer somewhere in the nation the conversation in the elevator will most likely be about this team and that team just like on any other day.

  • Fat_Man

    Of course the NYTimes does not cover local NY stories. The paper is written for, sold to, and read solely by the globalist elite and aspiring yuppies. Real New Yorkers read the Daily News (left) and Post (right).

    • DiogenesDespairs

      Wise New Yorkers (and others) would do well to get the bulk of their news on the Internet. Multiple, varied sources a click or two away, and easy comparisons of reports. AND, gateway editors are powerless beyond their own websites.

  • QET

    I don’t think NYC is properly characterized as “local.” St. Louis maybe. But not NYC. There is no “global” apart from the world’s large urban centers that the term practically comprises. Contra FG’s suggestion, Internet-enabled folks are not choosing to read stories about Vietnamese rice paddies or the goings-on in Brittany over happenings in London, NYC etc. NYC, London, Paris, Berlin, Beijing, Tokyo, Brussels, Rome — these are, collectively, your “global.”

    So TAI’s suggestion is likely correct. The de Blasio administration (and the Cuomo administration) are not exactly shining models of Democratic “governance.” So the NYT, gentleman that it is, gallantly turns its view away from NYC’s nakedness. For most Democrats, if the NYT didn’t report it, it didn’t happen. Q.E.D.

  • Mike

    I am sure NYT editors know very well where their subscribers live and which topics they are interested in. Even if some readers care deeply about another armed robbery in Brooklyn or a convenience store hold up in Queens, most probably don’t.

  • Curt A.

    I left New York City years ago. When I grew up there in the 1950s, the Democrats were the dominant party but there was a pretty solid Republican minority whose media voice was heard through newspapers such as the NY Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, and the World Telegram. Radio and television stations presented a pretty even report on the news. That is no longer the case. There is no Republican Party in the city anymore that I can see and everything skews not only towards the Democrats but the far Left Democrats.

    • Dale Fayda

      Staten Island is still reliable Republican, as well as Russian neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. The rest is a leftist wasteland.

      • Curt A.

        Interesting. When I lived there it was the Upper East Side of Manhattan, areas like Maspeth, Jamaica, New Hyde Park, College Point, all in Queens and areas in Brooklyn such as Bay Ridge, and Park Slope in Brooklyn. Maybe 20-25% at the most and that would have been around 1950-55. But Democrats were always the majority in the city.

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