Monday, April 27, 2009

The End of the New York Times?

Bill O'Reilly wrote a piece yesterday about the looming bankruptcy of the New York Times, despite just winning 5 Pulitzers. With all the talk of failing newspapers being due to the rise of the internet, one wonders if O'Reilly is on to something when he suggests that has more to do with being so blatently and aggressively liberal.

Here's the main point of the short article:
That unfair and unbalanced approach has alienated a large number of readers and advertisers. According to a recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll, 46 percent of Americans define themselves as conservative. Just 34 percent say they are liberal. In this very intense marketplace, insulting half the country on a daily basis may not be a great business plan.
Go read the whole thing. It's short and quite interesting.


briankb said...

Sad, very sad. Not that a legitimate news source such as the NYT would openly be liberal, but that the hypocritical Bill O'Reilly and myopic Fox News would advocate reporting news based on confirming people's biased world view.

Johnnie said...

BrianKB, you are exactly right. But the Fox/O'Reilly's of the world need a "liberal media/liberal NY Times" to rail against and rally the faithful. Any reader of the NY Times can tell you that a) on certain social issues like gay rights and abortion, the NY Times editorial board skews to the "liberal" side of things, which certainly falls in line with the local (NYC) readership and doesn't skew too far from the general populace, and b) on certain other issues--economic, education, the war on terror--the Times falls pretty much into a moderate category, with some liberal and some moderate and some outright conservative voices competing. On actual "news reporting", as BrianKB suggests, the Times does not attempt to confirm a particular worldview. But none of that matters to O'Reilly. And sadly, I guess not to Andrew either.

Bill Faris said...

Watched the film "State of Play" a week or so ago and found it to be an enjoyable but somewhat pitiful tribute to all the classic idolizatry of the liberal print media going all the way back to "All the Presidents Men".

Hard-bitten cursing editor under pressure from the "new owners" to sell papers at any cost. Out-of-the-box" disheveled reporter breaks rules to get the story about corrupt politicians (er, Republicans, no doubt) covering up their shenanigans while also impressing new media blogger female with his high wire act.

I'm a big lover of newspapers and read mine every morning, but I got sick a long time ago of the LA Times and its incessant pomposity and its somewhat sneering treatment of religion, middle America and non-liberals in general. I feel no pain if these kinds of papers fold, but I do hate to see print media in general go through such convulsions.

The world is changing and the nation is polarizing more and more. We have yet to see who will be left holding the levers of power in media, in politics and in culture, but -- if you ask me -- we are all of us in for quite a wild ride into Tommorowland.

Andrew Faris said...


It frustrates me that your apparent contempt for FoxNews and O'Reilly makes it so that you can't see the point of the article.

First of all- Fox News is confirming "biased" world views but it's ok that the NYT is openly liberal? Does that mean that liberals aren't biased, but conservatives are? Let's be consistent.

More importantly, did you read the whole article? O'Reilly doesn't bash the NYT, he just points out that being so aggressively liberal alienates part of their audience. It's just bad business practice to outwardly rip on what you consider the foolishness of the people you're trying to sell newspapers too- especially given the rise of the internet, etc.

He's not advocating "reporting news based on confirming people's biased world view." He's advocating trying to be more even-handed.

You can still call FoxNews hypocritical if you like. But FoxNews doesn't produce a dying newspaper. It's a media network that can afford to present mostly one view.


I don't read the NYT and therefore can't speak to how liberal or not it actually is. What interests me about the O'Reilly piece more than anything else is the alternative explanation for why a newspaper is dying than just jumping straight to "the internet did it."

That said, op-ed pieces are the key to expressing a newspaper's position. So your comment about news reporting may or may not be correct, but it's sort of irrelevant. That's not the stuff that really gets people angry anyway.


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