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BEHIND THE TIMES by Edwin Diamond


Inside the New York Times

by Edwin Diamond

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-41877-6
Publisher: Villard

 Gossipy, albeit exhaustive and substantive, status report on the New York Times from a perceptive observer of major media who teaches journalism at NYU. Diamond (The Media Show, 1991; The Spot, 1984, etc.) offers a shrewd appraisal of a once-august icon of the fourth estate that appears to have reached several crossroads. In his informed opinion, the world-class daily is attempting (with as yet ambiguous results) to reconcile the often conflicting demands of management's national aspirations with the realities of a marketplace now peopled by upscale nonreaders rather than the intelligent, well- educated elites who long read the paper as a matter of course. Among other consequences, the author notes, the Times has not only rediscovered its N.Y.C. roots but has attempted to enhance its appeal for affluent members of a generation raised on TV--by, among other measures, stressing service-oriented features. In probing the efforts of a news-gathering institution to make itself user- friendly in a brave new tuned-in, switched-on, real-time environment, Diamond dishes up generous measures of both name- dropping chat and hard-hitting analysis. In recounting how some individuals made it to the top of the editorial and business ladders, for instance, he doesn't shy from discussing what kept less successful rivals on lower rungs or, in certain circumstances, drove them from the company. The author also evaluates the paper's critical biases; suggests ways that the Book Review's bestseller lists could be rigged; provides tips on getting an op-ed piece published; explains how the Times makes sociology of sensational crime stories; supplies anecdotal evidence on the collegial gravity with which political endorsements are bestowed; and relates the pains the parent organization has taken to ensure cultural/gender diversity within its ranks. The times, they are a-changin'...but Diamond manages to capture the varied anxieties and discontents besetting a great newspaper as it tries to keep pace.