The Kingdom and the Paywall

My presence round these here parts has been a bit scarce as of late. There are several reasons for that — it’s hot as all hell; I’m in the midst of trying to plan and coordinate a move; my brother challenged me to get in shape for a 5k — but primary among them is that I’ve spent the last several weeks working on “The Kingdom and the Paywall,” a piece about The New York Times, which appears on the cover of the current issue of for New York magazine.

New York Magazine, August 1, 2011

It was an interesting piece to write. My first book, Hard News, was about the Times, but I hadn’t written anything about the paper since 2008, when I spent some time in their Baghdad bureau for a piece I was writing for Vanity Fair. The genesis of this assignment was my wanting to revisit the paper two years after the collapse of the debt market, which  was likely the Times Company’s nadir: For the first time in…well, perhaps ever, there was a good deal of serious, intelligent discussion about the possibility the paper was about to go out of business. Here’s the summary from New York‘s table of contents:

Just two years ago, media observers worried that the New York Times was on the verge of extinction. Now the Gray Lady, helmed by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., has some news for them: It’s paid back Carlos Slim (early), figured out how to create online-only content that people actually want to read, and launched a digital-subscription system that looks like it may even turn a profit.

It’s a bit off-topic from what I typically write about on PLoS, but the larger issues — media accountability, how we decide what qualifies as truth, etc — are ones that readers of this blog should be all too familiar with.

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5 Responses to The Kingdom and the Paywall

  1. Twyla says:

    Oh, darn! I was hoping that the reason for your absence was that you had seen the error of your ways, and you were trying to figure out how to announce that all the views you have expressed about vaccines, online and in The Panic Virus, were completely misguided.

    I’m sure I’ll like your article about the NYT better than anything you’ve written about vaccines. Good luck with your move and your 5k, and I hope the heat wave doesn’t last much longer.

  2. Z says:

    Still think you’re mistaken in this piece, though you’re still regurgitating others’ mistakes. If you can’t discern serious intelligent discussion on anything. You’re the reason why the media look like idiots to academics.

  3. René Najera says:

    @Twyla – That would be like suddenly just up and saying that gravity doesn’t exist and that it’s all a figment of our imagination. That is, scientific principles are immutable.

    • Twyla says:

      No, that would be more like realizing that the earth travels around the sun and not vice versa, or realizing that diseases are caused by tiny organisms too small to be seen with the naked eye. Scientific and medical beliefs constantly evolve and change.

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