Defying nan journalistic maxim that reporters should ne'er beryllium nan story, “The Story Behind nan Story” often chronicles nan mundane mechanics of assembling nan Times. Recently, nan abstraction has featured a first-person portion by a Times reporter astir really she sewage her communicative astir nan things people guidelines successful line for these days; really its book professional read and reviewed Prince Harry’s Spare in a day; really its newsman recovered sources for a portion astir young group and individual finance; really its newsman covered nan caller 5.6 magnitude earthquake successful West Java; inside commentary connected nan paper’s crossword; a floor plan of nan paper’s photography department; and a floor plan of a food-truck proprietor who vends connected nan thoroughfare extracurricular nan Times’ offices.
Other days nan characteristic runs Q&A’s pinch reporters successful which they regurgitate nan facts they’ve already conveyed successful published pieces astir classified documents, Ticketmaster, and nan caller German coup plot. (Some of these Q&A’s are double-dribbled from nan Times’ “The Daily” podcast.) Then location person been retrospectives connected nan power of nan paper’s “Snow Fall” characteristic from 10 years agone and a history of nan impermanent book astatine Times headquarters. It would beryllium 1 point if immoderate of these pieces collapsed crushed aliases were awesome reads, but they don’t and they aren’t. Most days’ entries person that tossed disconnected value that passes for penetration erstwhile applied to podcasts. The reference acquisition is for illustration soaking your encephalon successful brackish good water. Perhaps cipher has ever attacked these columns because cipher ever sounds them.
The characteristic swells pinch specified clueless self-regard immoderate days that it recalls erstwhile New Republic Editor Michael Kinsley’s jokey consequence to a workfellow who asked him to concoct a mag title that would entreaty to hardcore New Republic readers. Kinsley transportation was New Republic World: The Magazine for Readers of nan New Republic. By giving nan Times readers re-tastings of pieces they’ve already read, nan insubstantial accomplishes nan ouroboros creation Kinsley imagined.
In theory, a continuing Times feature that critically examined nan paper’s output could beryllium salutary for some Times readers and journalists. At a clip erstwhile extremist transparency is successful vogue and nan request to demystify publicity to a skeptical nationalist has ne'er been greater, “The Story Behind nan Story” could beryllium an basal run to reference nan Times. But successful its existent form, nan task does not travel adjacent to serving immoderate existent function. It’s unworthy of an institution for illustration nan Times.
In theory, an enterprising editor could raise nan standards and request activity that is arsenic newsworthy arsenic different Times stories. In fact, nan insubstantial has a caller contented of captious self-reflection. For 14 years, nan insubstantial hosted nan public editor file that, pinch varying success, X-rayed and fanny-whacked nan Times’ coverage. But nan insubstantial spiked nan workout successful introspection successful 2017, pinch Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. offering that nan “watchdogs” of societal media and “readers crossed nan Internet” could capable nan void near by nan nationalist editor’s departure.
Even aft nan vanquishing of nan nationalist editor, nan insubstantial still ran its barbed media column, launched by nan precocious David Carr and continued by Jim Rutenberg and Ben Smith, which occasionally made nan Times its subject. But nan insubstantial has yet to switch Smith, who departed astir a twelvemonth agone for his Semafor venture, which intends that conscionable astir nan only spot successful nan Times to publication astir nan Times is this soft, accommodating characteristic that denies its writers nan state to beryllium afloat honorable astir really their stories travel together. Trust me, reader, sometimes nan process tin beryllium very ugly. Other times, arsenic we’ve seen from nan Times feature attests, it’s arsenic breathtaking arsenic going market shopping.
Properly reconstituted, nan Times insider characteristic could return up nan slack created by nan cashiering of nan nationalist editor and nan nonaccomplishment to switch Smith. If nan paper’s existent nonsubjective is to uncover “who we are and what we do” and present “behind-the-scenes insights into really our publicity comes together,” “The Story Behind nan Story” could do conscionable that by engaging successful Maoist self-criticism exercises that confess nan paper’s miscues and goofs and authorities nan paper’s lawsuit against its critics.
You could successfully reason that griping astir nan misuse of a valuable Times print perch successful an era erstwhile astir group prosecute nan insubstantial successful its online incarnation is simply a wasted complaint. But mounting nan feature’s placement aside, you’re still near pinch nan reality that nan world’s apical newspaper thinks moving an extended, onanistic nationalist relations run for itself is simply a bully usage of its journalists’ and readers’ time. The first mobility of immoderate enactment of publicity is, does nan communicative matter? The 2nd is, who cares? In nan lawsuit of “The Story Behind nan Story,” nan answers are “no” and “nobody.”
Public Editor Daniel Okrent was, by far, nan champion of nan Times’ nationalist editors. Get his collected columns, Public Editor #1, for $4.50 connected Abebooks. Send brackish well-water to [email protected]. No caller email alert subscriptions are being honored astatine this time. My Twitter provender needs a nationalist editor. My Mastodon relationship has marked my Post relationship for death. My RSS provender blankets itself pinch nan people type of nan Times for its day naps