Is it too late for the New York Times?

Nearly everyone is familiar with Albert Einstein’s reported definition of insanity: “Doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”

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Professional journalists are reputed to be very bright, well-informed people. Well, maybe not, if such journalists are marinating in the misguided newsroom culture of mainstream media outfits. Some people can be intellectually smart and still lack common sense.

Apparently, America is witnessing an epidemic of reporters, writers and media bosses who cannot see the handwriting on the wall. Nowhere is this more obvious than at The New York Times. Long lauded as the epitome of journalistic might, the Times is on the downhill slope to becoming a shadow of its former self.

Its circulation from 2005 to 2016 declined by 50 percent, from 571,500 copies to 1,145,800. This has caused a serious personnel downsizing for several years running. They fired 500 staffers in 2006, and were still offering buyouts to workers in 2016. The Times suffers from credibility ratings and public perceptions of believability, says the Pew Research Center. In 2012, Pew found that half of survey respondents did not believe “all or most” of the Times’s reporting.

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Why has this happened to the Times, also called The Gray Lady? Well, for one thing, the paper has suffered a checkered history, including bias and inaccuracy in reporting. This may have started in the 1930s when a Times Moscow bureau chief wrote a series of stories that glorified the Soviet Union under the murderous dictator Stalin. The stories denied the widespread Ukrainian famine and ignored the Great Purge killings of tens of millions of Russian citizens since 1917. The Times promoted a policy that minimized news reports of the Holocaust in Germany before and during the Second World War. The paper’s coverage of the rape charges against the 2006 Duke lacrosse players ignored America’s sacred “innocent until proven guilty” laws, clearly adopting the prosecutors’ version of the incident. They mostly ignored Bill Clinton getting $500,000 for a Russian speech, and only slightly covered the news that Hillary Clinton operatives met with Ukrainian operatives during the election. And remember when the Times engaged in slanted reporting of the Iranian nuclear crisis, by underreporting the weaknesses and negatives of Obama’s plan?

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But the real problem that has plummeted the Times into serious trouble is the bias and lack of balance in its one-sided news reporting. The paper, over the years, has alienated conservatives, many independents, and objective-minded readers. Examples are the endless bias against Trump, unconcerned whether they do a disservice to the American presidency. And the Times website that uses social platforms that mix news columns and editorials–by its mostly liberal writers—in a way that makes it almost impossible to know the difference before you read it. They put a gun control editorial on the front page, and Hillary Clinton campaign ads on the home page of the news website.

So, shouldn’t it count for something when a major news outlet misreports big issues? Shouldn’t there be repercussions and accountability when the Times produces biased, non-balanced, slanted political news, but then holds itself out as objective and unbiased? It is perfectly acceptable for the Times to be politically biased. But the hypocrisy and wrongdoing rears up when the paper’s editors state that it does not have a leftist worldview. Their intellectual dishonesty needs to be exposed, and they fail to insist that their reporters simply tell the public what happened, and not add their opinions or “analysis”. Over the years, even the Times’ own ombudsmen—Okrent, Brisbane, Spayd—have discussed their paper having a “political and cultural progressivism…that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times,” and “Culture coverage trend(s) to the left.”

(Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)

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In short, the Times editors, allowing journalistic misreporting over and over again, should have learned by now the brutal lesson that many people already know: that the Times has stumbled into the liberal wilderness, doesn’t admit it, and too many readers don’t like it.  They’d better wake up and realize they appeal to less than half of America, and it’s dangerous to eliminate conservatives from their readership.


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John R. Smith


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