homeabout kottke.orgarchives + tags

kottke.org posts about NY Times

The reviewer reviewed

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 07, 2016

Ian Parker wrote about the NY Times’ restaurant critic Pete Wells for the New Yorker this week.

Wells is generally a well-mannered critic, if not an overly respectful one. In his first years on the job, he was sometimes faulted in the food press for being too generous in his appraisals; he had made a point of publishing fewer one-star reviews than his immediate predecessors. “No one likes one-star reviews,” Wells told me, in a conversation at his apartment, which is in a Clinton Hill brownstone. “The restaurants don’t like them, and the readers don’t like them. It’s very tricky to explain why this place is good enough to deserve a review but not quite good enough to get up to the next level.” He added, “I’m looking for places that I can be enthusiastic about. Like a golden retriever, I would like to drop a ball at the feet of the reader every week and say, ‘Here!’”

Parker covers Wells’ most notable reviews — Per Se, Fieri, Senor Frog’s, Momofuku Nishi — as well as the reactions of the restaurants to the reviews.

“I can’t ever read that review again — I’ll get so fucking angry I’ll die,” Chang said. “I made a lot of that food! I tasted it! It was delicious. And… fuck! I believe in the fucking food we make in that restaurant, I believe it to be really delicious, I believe it to be innovative, in a non-masturbatory way.”

I love David Chang. Never change. But back to Wells, I had a conversation last night with a friend who worked in a restaurant that Wells reviewed and he said that Wells is perhaps not physically suited for undercover restaurant dining — “he’s an odd looking dude” was the quote. And I have another friend in the restaurant industry who, after living in Clinton Hill for a few months, told me, “I think Pete Wells is my backyard neighbor.” Several months later: “Yeah, Pete Wells definitely lives behind me.” We joked about Wells talking over the fence in the style of Wilson, the neighbor in Home Improvement whose face is always partially hidden.

We Work Remotely

Front page NY Times editorial on gun control

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 05, 2015

In their first page one editorial since 1920, the NY Times argues for strict gun control.

But motives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.

I don’t really want to get into it on a sunny Saturday morning, but 1) this doesn’t go far enough for me…I’m one of those people who does want guns taken away from everyone; and 2) the media also needs to make tough choices about how and how much they cover shootings like this. CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin can’t write an essay about how she’s sick and tired of reporting on gun violence and then her network gives their viewers a guided tour of the apartment where the suspects in the San Bernardino shooting lived (which Baldwin tweeted out to her followers advising them to TURN ON #CNN).

On this weekend in 1974

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 22, 2014

Chinatown Listing 1984

Yesterday, I did a round-up of movies, TV, and music available on this weekend in 1984. As a comparison, I thought looking at the same weekend from 1974 would be interesting. Tracking this information down was a little more difficult than with 1984, but I found most of what I needed in the June 23, 1974 edition of the NY Times.

Back in the 1970s (and probably particularly in NYC), movies stayed in theaters a lot longer than they do now. There was no home video market then…you either saw the movie in the theater or you missed it. This is a list of some of the movies available for viewing in theaters that weekend in NYC:

The Sting
The Exorcist
Parallax View
The Sugarland Express
The Conversation
Chinatown
Papillon
The Great Gatsby

The Sting, Papillon, and The Exorcist had been out since late 1973, The Great Gatsby since March, and The Sugarland Express (Spielberg’s directoral debut) and The Conversation since April. Only Parallax View and Chinatown had just opened. Interestingly, the year’s top-grossing film, Blazing Saddles, which opened in February, didn’t appear anywhere on the movie listing pages of the Times that week.

The top 10 on the Billboard chart for that week were:

Billy, Don’t Be A Hero - Bo Donaldson And The Heywoods
You Make Me Feel Brand New - The Stylistics
Sundown - Gordon Lightfoot
The Streak - Ray Stevens
Be Thankful For What You Got - William DeVaughn
Band On The Run - Paul McCartney & Wings
If You Love Me (let Me Know) - Olivia Newton-John
Dancing Machine - Jackson 5
Hollywood Swinging - Kool & The Gang
The Entertainer - Marvin Hamlisch/The Sting

And on TV that weekend, a number of classic shows, all reruns except for 60 Minutes:

Brady Bunch
Sanford and Son
Good Times
Upstairs, Downstairs
The Odd Couple
All in the Family
M*A*S*H
Mary Tyler Moore
60 Minutes

BTW, the entire copy of the Sunday Times was fascinating to page through. The ads for cigarettes, hand-held calculators, and color televisions, real estate listings, job openings, book listings, the NY Times Magazine, car ads, etc.

Fit to print?

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 10, 2014

Fit To Print is a Tumblr blog tracking the sometimes absurd instances of profanity avoidance in the NY Times. Like so:

Mr. Lee blasted a dictionary’s worth of unprintable words at developers who fluff gritty neighborhoods with glossy names (“East Williamsburg” for Bushwick, for instance), and at the “Christopher Columbus syndrome” of gentrifiers who were sweeping into the largely black neighborhood of his youth with little regard for “a culture that’s been laid down for generations.”

I have already been on record about the Times’ dumbass profanity policy, especially when it gets in the way of actually performing journalism.

Update: Language expert Jesse Sheidlower in a NY Times opinion piece:

When language can play such a hot-button role in our society, what we need is more reporting, not less. Some publications have loosened the restraints. The New Yorker has noticeably done so, British and Australian newspapers often print offensive words in full, and The Economist’s style guide reads: “if you do use swear words, spell them out in full, without asterisks or other coynesses.”

NY Times: clemency for Snowden

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 02, 2014

The editorial board of the NY Times is urging clemency for Edward Snowden.

Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.

All the news that’s fit to sew

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 05, 2013

For her Sewn News project, artist Lauren DiCioccio embroiders photographs from the New York Times.

Sewn news

(via beautiful decay)

The NY Times’ dumb anti-profanity policy

posted by Jason Kottke   May 07, 2013

PepsiCo is dropping Lil Wayne as a Mountain Dew spokesman because of “vulgar lyrics” referring to Emmett Till after the Till family put pressure on the beverage giant. What lyrics? Because of its ridiculous policy against including bad words in such an august publication, the NY Times doesn’t even say what the lyrics are! Which makes the entire article worthless from a journalistic perspective. The lyrics are the entire story…without them, it’s just a bunch of press release bullshit. FYI, because we are all adults here (and your kids already know the lyrics), here are the lyrics in question courtesy of Rap Genius:

Pop a lot of pain pills
Bout to put rims on my skateboard wheels
Beat that pussy up like Emmett Till
Yeah….
Two cell phones ringin’ at the same time
That’s your ho, callin’ from two different phones
Tell that bitch “leave me the fuck alone!”
See, you fuck her wrong, and I fuck her long
I got a love-hate relationship with Molly
I’d rather pop an ollie, and my dick is a trolly
Boy, I’ll bury you like Halle

How can people even discuss the artistic merit and/or offensiveness of the lyrics if you can’t print them? The Times should either simply publish whatever it is they are talking about or not run the story at all. (via @bdeskin, who has been giving the Times shit about their profanity policy on Twitter)

1983 NY Times office computer policy memo

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 04, 2013

In 1983, the NY Times distributed a memo outlining the policy for computer use by employees.

5. Games and visual oddities may not be played or stored in the computer. They clutter the storage disk and slow its operation; they also encourage browsing, which leads to privacy violation. Finally, games may give new or junior staff members a misleading impression of the seriousness we attached to computer privacy.

(via @davidfg)

Our weird weather reality

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 11, 2013

As previously reported, global warming doesn’t just mean the Earth is getting warmer…the weather is getting weirder.

Britons may remember 2012 as the year the weather spun off its rails in a chaotic concoction of drought, deluge and flooding, but the unpredictability of it all turns out to have been all too predictable: Around the world, extreme has become the new commonplace.

Especially lately. China is enduring its coldest winter in nearly 30 years. Brazil is in the grip of a dreadful heat spell. Eastern Russia is so freezing — minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and counting — that the traffic lights recently stopped working in the city of Yakutsk.

Bush fires are raging across Australia, fueled by a record-shattering heat wave. Pakistan was inundated by unexpected flooding in September. A vicious storm bringing rain, snow and floods just struck the Middle East. And in the United States, scientists confirmed this week what people could have figured out simply by going outside: last year was the hottest since records began.

BTW, this story was published the day before the NY Times announced that they are dismantling their environment news desk and dispersing the nine-person staff throughout the newsroom.

It wasn’t a decision we made lightly,” said Dean Baquet, the paper’s managing editor for news operations. “To both me and Jill [Abramson, executive editor], coverage of the environment is what separates the New York Times from other papers. We devote a lot of resources to it, now more than ever. We have not lost any desire for environmental coverage. This is purely a structural matter.”

This seems like a step in the wrong direction. Which prominent national publication will be brave and start pushing climate change coverage alongside that of politics, business, and sports? At the very least, the Times should have a weekly Climate Change section, the New Yorker should have a yearly Climate issue, Buzzfeed should have a Climate & Weather vertical, etc. (via @tcarmody)

The New York Times Compendium

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 06, 2012

The New York Times Research & Development Lab has built an app called Compendium that lets people create collections of NY Times articles and photos.

Compendium invites readers of The New York Times like you to use articles, imagery, videos, and quotations to tell your own stories using New York Times content. Each collection has a description that you can use to introduce the collection as a whole, and each item in your collection has a place for you to describe what was important, interesting, or funny about it. Once created, you can share your collection or link to it from anywhere. Compendium is also a great place to discover and explore interesting stories through a wide variety of collections created by our readers, editors, and reporters.

Some examples: Jenna Wortham’s favorite reads of 2012, a drone-related collection, and the best/worst dining reviews.

The NY Times’ first restaurant critic

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2012

Craig Claiborne was the NY Times’ first dedicated restaurant critic, providing an example that was soon followed by newspapers everywhere in the US.

Some American writers had nibbled at the idea of professional restaurant criticism before this, including Claiborne, who had written one-off reviews of major new restaurants for The Times. But his first “Directory to Dining,” 50 years ago this month, marks the day when the country pulled up a chair and began to chow down. Within a few years, nearly every major newspaper had to have a Craig Claiborne of its own. Reading the critics, eating what they had recommended, and then bragging or complaining about it would become a national pastime.

As the current caretaker of the house that Claiborne built, I lack objectivity on this subject. Still, I believe that without professional critics like him and others to point out what was new and delicious, chefs would not be smiling at us from magazine covers, subway ads and billboards. They would not be invited to the White House, except perhaps for job interviews. Claiborne and his successors told Americans that restaurants mattered. That was an eccentric opinion a half-century ago. It’s not anymore.

A few years ago, I wrote about the first restaurant review to appear in the Times in 1859…it’s still one of my favorite posts.

Process blog for the NY Times Graphics dept

posted by Jason Kottke   May 01, 2012

chartsandthings is a behind-the-scenes look at how the infographic sausage is made at the NY Times.

nytimes.com front page time lapse

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 20, 2011

Seven-minute video of 12,000 screenshots of the front page of the NY Times website taken over a period of several months by “an errant cron task”.

More info here.

NY Times paywall is here

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 17, 2011

Or will be soon…they announced some of the details today.

On NYTimes.com, you can view 20 articles each month at no charge (including slide shows, videos and other features). After 20 articles, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber, with full access to our site.

Cheapest plan is about $180/year and the most expensive is $420/yr. Access is free to paper subscribers.

Early look at the NY Times Magazine redesign

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 04, 2011

magCulture has a pre-release look at the new NY Times Magazine.

Redesigns are always interesting, and non more so than when a title as significant and influential as the NYT makes changes. Duplessis has worked with new editor Hugo Lindgren (ex-Bloomberg Business Week and New York magazine) to provide a new vision for the title, researching the magazine’s archive and becoming fascinated by its 60s and 70s incarnations.

For some reason, it reminds me of Monocle, even though it probably shouldn’t? (thx, @nedward)

Comings and goings at the NY Times

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 25, 2011

The Grey Lady is up to something…many things and people are on the move over there, particularly with regard to the magazine.

The On Language column originated by William Safire has been cancelled.

Christoph Niemann’s excellent Abstract City blog is closing down and the feature will move to the New York Times Magazine.

This is the last The Medium column by Virginia Heffernan.

After 12 years, Randy Cohen will no longer write The Ethicist column.

Deborah Solomon won’t be doing those irritating interviews anymore.

Update: A couple I missed: Rob Walker’s Consumed and Mark Bittman’s The Minimalist are both ending. (thx, all)

First election map

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 11, 2010

Matthew Ericson tracked down the first national election map published in the NY Times; it showed William McKinley’s victory over William Jennings Bryan.

1896 Election Map

The speed with which the results made it into print boggles the mind given the technology of the day (especially considering that in the last few elections in the 2000s, with all of the technology available to us, there have been a number of states that we haven’t been able to call in the Wednesday paper).

(thx, tyson)

Civil War blog

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 02, 2010

Disunion is a new NY Times blog that will be covering the events of the Civil War in “real-time” as it happened 150 years ago. From one of the first posts about the last ordinary day:

[November 1, 1860] was an ordinary day in America: one of the last such days for a very long time to come.

In dusty San Antonio, Colonel Robert E. Lee of the U.S. Army had just submitted a long report to Washington about recent skirmishes against marauding Comanches and Mexican banditti. In Louisiana, William Tecumseh Sherman was in the midst of a tedious week interviewing teenage applicants to the military academy where he served as superintendent. In Galena, Ill., passers-by might have seen a man in a shabby military greatcoat and slouch hat trudging to work that Thursday morning, as he did every weekday. He was Ulysses Grant, a middle-aged shop clerk in his family’s leather-goods store.

Great idea. The Times started publishing in 1851 so their archives should have a ton of stuff related to the war. (via df)

NYC subway photos, 1917-present

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 22, 2010

Slideshow of almost 100 years of photography of the NYC subway system by the NY Times.

NYC Subway 1940

The caption for the photo above reads:

1940: In a view north from 106th Street, only the supports of the old Ninth Avenue elevated line remained as the push to go underground continued.

Jobs’ keynote praise gets RSS reader pulled from App Store

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 08, 2010

Steve Jobs praised an iPad RSS reader called Pulse in his keynote yesterday. Then the NY Times complained about the app and Apple pulled it from the store later in the day.

The Pulse News Reader app, makes commercial use of the NYTimes.com and Boston.com RSS feeds, in violation of their Terms of Use*. Thus, the use of our content is unlicensed. The app also frames the NYTimes.com and Boston.com websites in violation of their respective Terms of Use.

Four things:

1. Why is there a comma after “The Pulse News Reader app” in the laywer’s note to Apple?
2. The very same NY Times ran a positive review of the very same Pulse a few days ago. Doh!
3. Seems like all the Pulse guys need to do is unbundle the NY Times feeds and open the actual nytimes.com pages into a generic browser window and all is good.
4. I wonder why the Times et al. haven’t complained about Instapaper yet. It might not technically infringe on copyright, but magazines and newspapers can’t be too happy about an app that strips out all the advertising from their articles…as much as we would all be sad to see it go.

FiveThirtyEight goes to the NY Times

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 03, 2010

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight is licensing its content to the NY Times for the next three years.

In the near future, the blog will “re-launch” under a NYTimes.com domain. It will retain its own identity (akin to other Times blogs like DealBook), but will be organized under the News:Politics section. Once this occurs, content will no longer be posted at FiveThirtyEight.com on an ongoing basis, and the blog will re-direct to the new URL. In addition, I will be contributing content to the print edition of the New York Times, and to the Sunday Magazine.

The Times’ own Media Decoder blog notes that the deal is similar in structure to the arrangement Freakonomics enjoys at the newspaper: more of a rental than a purchase. I believe Andrew Sullivan has had similar deals at the various publications at which he’s blogged. (thx, nevan)

Thread poets society

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 18, 2010

At the newly renovated Bygone Bureau, Darryl Campbell investigates the small but vibrant poetry community that has formed in the comment threads on the NY Times website.

Tiger, Tiger burning bright
In the sex clubs of Orlando
Guess it’s time you took a break
And lived life with more candor
Must’ve been weird, your secret life
Never an unserviced erection
Shouldn’t you, though, have taught the wife
Some proper club selection?

The year in ideas, 2009

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 10, 2009

The NY Times Magazine has published their Year in Ideas issue for 2009. Lots of good stuff in there. Before I got sidetracked with family obligations (Minna!), I planned on pitching the magazine’s editors a couple of ideas I noticed this year:

The Neverending Wake. We got a preview of what death in the celebrity age (more) is going be like when a cluster of notable people passed away this summer. How will we think about death when someone we know or admire dies every day for the rest of our lives?

Machine Gun Photography. Just as the introduction of the machine gun fundamentally changed warfare, so the affordable high-resolution digital video camera will change photography. Now you don’t have to wait for exactly the right moment for the perfect shot; just take 10 minutes of HD video and find the best shots later. Photography was always really about the editing anyway, right?

Free Errol!

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 20, 2009

For some dumbcrap reason, the NY Times has redirected Errol Morris’ excellent blog about photography and the truth — formerly at http://morris.blogs.nytimes.com — to some new thing called Opinionator. They did the same with Dick Cavett, Olivia Judson, etc. Oh, all the content is still there — here’s Morris’ stuff — and permalinks redirect, but there are no author-specific RSS feeds. There is only the main feed, which started shoveling a bunch of crap I didn’t want to read into my newsreader. Come on Gray Lady, just give me Morris; I don’t care about the rest.

Update: The Times blogs are on Wordpress and with WP you can add “/feed” to any URL and get a feed. So here’s Morris’ feed…which helps you and me but not much of anyone else. (thx, mark)

Update: The Times is working on it. (thx, benjamin)

From the Babe to Matsui

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 06, 2009

Larry Granillo explores how the Yankees’ World Series victories have been covered by the New York Times through the years.

New NY Times restaurant critic

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 05, 2009

The NY Times has named their replacement for outgoing restaurant critic Frank Bruni: current Times editor Sam Sifton. This is good news for me…I look a bit like Sifton; if I’m mistaken for him and incur favorable treatment at restaurants because of it, I won’t complain.

Update: Many many updates on Sifton and his appointment: from the Times itself on the transition, on restaurant critics and anonymity, and on Sifton’s preparation for the gig (more here); Ed Levine thinks Sifton is going to be good; and Eater has a dossier on Sifton.

Best correction ever?

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 20, 2009

On July 17, 1969, The New York Times issued a correction related to an editorial the paper published in 1920 that dismissed the idea of rocket travel in the vacuum of space. The editorial read, in part:

That Professor Goddard, with his ‘chair’ in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react — to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high school.

The correction stated:

Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Issac Newton in the 17th Century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.

The Times regrets the error! Wish I’d written that next to a few muffed physics exam questions. Here’s a pretty good explanation of why rockets work in vacuums. (via @davidfg)

New NY Times photoblog

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2009

The NY Times kicks off their new photography blog with a video that shows just how short White House photo ops are.

When a photo-op is scheduled, the photographers, camera operators and reporters gather in the colonnade outside the Oval Office and wait — sometimes it can be as long as an hour — shuffling feet and making nervous small talk until the flutter of the fingers of the young staffer who calls, “Pool.”

No vending machine for crows

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 12, 2009

Remember the story about the vending machine for crows in the NY Times Magazine’s Year in Ideas issue from December? Turns out that there were all sorts of things wrong with that story.

In addition, the article said that Klein was working with graduate students at Cornell University and Binghamton University to study how wild crows make use of his machine, which does exist. Klein did get a professor at Binghamton to help him try it out twice in Ithaca, with assistance from a Binghamton graduate student, and it was not a success. Corvid experts who have since been interviewed have said that Klein’s machine is unlikely to work as intended.

Update: I had forgotten…Klein did a talk at TED last year about his crow vending machine. I wonder if there’s a retraction forthcoming from there as well. (thx, michael)

The Year in Ideas

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 15, 2008

The NY Times has posted their annual Year in Ideas collection for 2008, packaged this year in an “interactive feature”, which is Esperanto for “no permalinks”. A favorite so far in paging through is Tokujin Yoshioka’s Venus Natural Crystal Chair, a piece of furniture grown in mineral water.

Update: Permalinks are a go. I repeat, permalinks are a go. Here’s the one for the crystal chair. (thx, everyone)