The New Man on the Street

When your editor tells you to spin three sentences of news into a 25 paragraph thumbsucker, what’s a poor New York Times writer to do?:

And on the NASAWatch blog, Jsonova99 wrote, “He’s a pro and I have no doubt he’ll bring his A game to the mission.”

Still, some people questioned the choice. “The truly courageous and strong thing to do is to be an accessible partner to your disabled wife who is now relearning almost every function of her body and intellect,” one reader wrote to The New York Times Web site. “Just sayin’.”

How can the Times expect to be considered the paper of record when “Captain_Poopy” on Reddit and “hentai_lover” on 4chan were not consulted?






48 replies
  1. 1
    dr. bloor says:

    Could be worse. He didn’t call Palin to see what she thinks.

  2. 2
    Chyron HR says:

    “hentai_lover” on 4chan were not consulted

    Well, duh. Nobody consults tripfags.

  3. 3
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    “Captain_Poopy” on Reddit and “hentai_lover” on 4chan were not consulted?

    They have columns of their own on the op-ed page, just not under those names.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    Jay C says:

    OMG – this treacly bit of tripe actually appeared in the New York Times? And in the “US News” section, not the “Style” section, or whatever at the NYT passes for the gossip page?

    Y.
    G.
    B.
    F.
    K.
    M.
    !!!!!

  6. 6
    Tony J says:

    Okay, I recognise Michael Steele, Sean Hannity, Hillary Clinton and John Bolton, but who is that grey-haired lady on the far right?

  7. 7
    Jeffro says:

    Sandra Day O’Connor?

    A young Barbara Bush??

  8. 8

    “He is going.” Coulda stopped right there. I’m just saying. That’s where I stopped reading.

  9. 9
    Amir_Khalid says:

    To be fair, it’s not just the New York Times. I was just reading MSNBC.com’s version of that very same thumbsucker. No doubt USA Today will have one of their own as well, and so will any media outlet including the likes of US Weekly and People. I’m not sure if it’s a case of great minds thinking alike, or of fools not differing.

  10. 10
    Tony J says:

    @Jeffro:

    Well, that would be four Republicans and one Democrat, so would meet the MSM definition of Fair and Balanced.

    Ah, no, got it. It’s George Washington.

  11. 11
    aimai says:

    I actually read a lot of the comments over at HuffPo or wherever this story first appeared. I think what amazed me is that absolute portability of hostility on the right. That is, the same people who just hate liberals, and hated Giffords by extension because she was a Democratic Representative, hate the marriage, hate the husband, hate his NASA “service” which they deny is “service” because he accepts money for it, hate the selection of the rehab hospital, hate the fact that she has health insurance–you name it they hate it. And for every positive (that is, not negative) story about Rep. Giffords and her husband they offer some kind of conspiracy theory like explanation for how its “a lie.” Their marriage is “a lie” and the choice of rehab hospitals is “a lie” and etc…etc..etc…

    Hatred is a frame they can take with them wherever they go, and which they can just drop onto things to make themselves feel better about the horror of the situation. Its not enough to say “what a terrible choice for him to have to make” you have to diminish the chooser in order to get over the horror.

    aimai

  12. 12
    Dr. Squid says:

    They must’ve missed the opinion of Fark’s “rugbyjock” as well.

  13. 13
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Amir_Khalid: Why should we be fair?

  14. 14
    WereBear says:

    @aimai: Hatred is a frame they can take with them wherever they go, and which they can just drop onto things to make themselves feel better about the horror of the situation.

    The black/white thinking of the typical wingut, as seen here:

    That is, the same people who just hate liberals, and hated Giffords by extension because she was a Democratic Representative, hate the marriage, hate the husband, hate his NASA “service” which they deny is “service” because he accepts money for it, hate the selection of the rehab hospital, hate the fact that she has health insurance—you name it they hate it.

    Is, to me, prima facie evidence of their being stuck at a very early stage of Ego Integration. If we’ve ever encountered an adult whose moods “turn on a dime,” who loooooooooove something until it disappoints them, then they haaaaaaaaate it; a person who dates with utter devotion until they become unreasonably jealous; any Jeckyl-Hyde situation is a person who has never properly merged good mother/bad mother concepts.

    And since the wingnut mind works on Realms (whatever they tell me is true) and not Concepts (this is so, what else might be so?) they do not make up their minds about anything. This is why their positions are both so fervent; and so content free.

  15. 15
    fasteddie says:

    Yes – the re-publishing of blog comments in printed media is a new low. It’s been going on in the local papers for a few years ( most of the papers are down to 2 reporters ) – but to see it in the Times truly indicates a turning point.

  16. 16
    WyldPirate says:

    About the only thing worse than the NYT consulting with “anonymous bloggers” instead of asking well-known celebrities or political figures about the propriety of Capt. Kelly flying this mission is an anonymous blogger at BJ snarking on the fact that they asked.

    Really, mistermix. Would you felt better if the people they asked had used their real names? Would their opinions have been any more or less valid had they had the real name of the person attached?

  17. 17
    Dr. Squid says:

    Leave it to WyldPirate to make everyone stupider for reading his comment.

    I’ll explain it for you, boy. It’s. The. New. York. Times. They’re supposed to have this thing called “standards” that are a little bit higher than someone farting around on a blog for no money at all.

  18. 18
    Chad N Freude says:

    @WyldPirate: If BJ were an Internet arm of a national newspaper “of record” and was quoted in support of a by-lined report, your comment would have some merit. But it’s not and your comment doesn’t. Talk about false equivalences — Where is Tom Levenson when we really need him?

  19. 19
    aimai says:

    Also, the point of the original post was that they *shouldn’t have asked anyone this question* because its nobody’s business but the family’s.

    aimai

  20. 20
    WyldPirate says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    Fuck you squid for brains.

    The point of my comment was that whomever was “rendering judgement” with their “man on the street comments” was really irrelevant and would have not been made in more relevant had their real names been used.

    Quizzing the man on the street about this personal choice between these two people was fucking stupid in the first place. It’s the family’s choice.

  21. 21
    aimai says:

    @WereBear:

    I like this concept of “Realms” not “Consequences” Werebear. I’ve never heard of it. But it reminds me of a great post by PZ at Pharyngula where he says that he’s not an atheist because he “doesn’t believe in god” but rather he doesn’t believe in god because he’s a scientist, an empiricist, and a host of other things. Not accepting the existence of something that can’t be proven is the result of all these other things.

    aimai

  22. 22
    Chad N Freude says:

    @WyldPirate: Do you think it’s possible that this didn’t come across and your comment looked like an attack on BJ?

  23. 23
  24. 24
    Dr. Squid says:

    @WyldPirate:

    I do believe that our author’s point is not only that quizzing the Area Man is not only stupid, it’s beneath the standards of the paper of record. That you somehow think it’s worse to point that out only serves to prove that you really do serve to lower the world’s IQ whenever you open your golly-I-just-HAVE-to-be-contrarian-aren’t-I-wonderful yawp.

  25. 25
    Poopyman says:

    I haz a sad that I was not consulted.

  26. 26
    aimai says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    Points for “yawp” as well as for being named Dr. Squid.

    aimai

  27. 27
    Poopyman says:

    From al Jazeera:

    6:08pm Egyptian TV reports that Hosni Mubarak resigns as head of the ruling NDP party – more details soon.

    We shall see what this leads to.

  28. 28
    WereBear says:

    @aimai: It’s actually my own theory, developed during the Bush years.

    Glad you like it.

  29. 29
    Joel says:

    @WyldPirate: A source is a source. But anonymous posters on the internet do not constitute a reliable source. In fact, they can be easily concocted out of thin air, which I imagine that these were.

  30. 30
    Jim, Once says:

    @Poopyman:
    Yes. I just heard this, too, on AJ. Anyone who can offer informed comment on what this means, exactly?

  31. 31
    gorillagogo says:

    what, no this guy?

  32. 32
    WyldPirate says:

    @Chad N Freude:

    If BJ were an Internet arm of a national newspaper “of record” and was quoted in support of a by-lined report, your comment would have some merit.

    You do realize that this is the same “paper of record” that publishes shit from “anonymous sources”, right? This is the same paper that publish Judy Miller’s claptrap and news plants from the Bush administration, right?

    That was shit to get upset about the NYT’s actions. This article, not so much.

    I basically agree with mistermix’s underlying complaint, but for different reasons. I thought that overall, the article was pretty decent (though long) and that the “man on the street/blog” comments add really nothing to the piece. They should have been edited out.

    I didn’t object to the author(s) choices of the “man on the street comments” from online. While this story would immediately raise the “should I stay or should I go” quandry in most every reader’s mind, had the NYT printed the real name and hometown of some stranger they solicited an anecdotal opinion from is no more meaningful to me than if mistermix’s hypothetical “hentai_lover” on 4chan had been asked their opinion. There are obvious choice for what Gibbon’s husband can do. An opinion was solicitid People will take sides on the matter as there are two valid choices. Who gives a fuck otherwise?

    Now if the NYT start’s regularly soliciting “hentai_lover” on 4chan for possible US courses of action in the Middle East regarding dealing with political unrest in the ME, then I’ll be raising eyebrows along with everyone else.

  33. 33
    WyldPirate says:

    @Joel:

    In fact, they can be easily concocted out of thin air, which I imagine that these were.

    I disagree in this case. The “quotes” were anonymous fluff that added nothing to the story. I agree they were bullshit, but for different reasons. I would not doubt that the other read the quotes somewhere.

  34. 34
    Poopyman says:

    @Jim, Once: Looks like a swing leftward, at least outwardly.

    The Guardian had reported a little earlier (time is GMT):

    3.54pm: Egyptian state TV says the leaders of the ruling National Democratic party have resigned, including the president’s son, Gamal Mubarak, and the secretary-general of the party, Safwat el-Sharif. The new secretary-general of the party is Hossam Badrawi, seen as a member of the liberal wing of the party, Reuters reports.

  35. 35
    Joel says:

    @WyldPirate: Sure, it’s fluff. But it’s bad practice. If I were the editor, the story would get chopped post haste.

  36. 36
    Jim, Once says:

    @Poopyman: It does, doesn’t it? Especially when you see this:

    The new secretary-general of the party is Hossam Badrawi, seen as a member of the liberal wing of the party, Reuters reports.

  37. 37
    Poopyman says:

    @Joel: Yeah, but you’re not the editor. And if you were the editor you would need something else to fill that gap. And you’d realize your stable of contributors consists of a gaggle of weak-minded lazy hive–thinkers.

    Then you’d probably re–insert it, pull the near–empty bottle out of your bottom drawer, and hate–drink yourself into oblivion.

  38. 38
    Chad N Freude says:

    @WyldPirate: I was commenting on the false equivalency. And I don’t think your intent was clear from your comment.

    ETA: Did you notice the quotes around “of record”?

  39. 39
    Chad N Freude says:

    Testing a hyphen-hypothesis.

    ETA: It works. I will sell the secret to the highest bidder.

  40. 40
    handy says:

    Print is dead. Last throes and all that.

  41. 41
    different church-lady says:

    Hey, you’re the folks who are always cheerleading “new media”, and you get all snickery when team newsprint embraces blog-speak?

  42. 42
    Nellcote says:

    @Poopyman:

    Egyptian state TV says

    This story needs a second source.

  43. 43
    scarshapedstar says:

    “hentai_lover” on 4chan

    Leave the namefags out of this. I believe you’re referring to ‘Anonymous’.

  44. 44
    Amir_Khalid says:

    A journo’s perspective:

    Captain Kelly’s decision to fly the mission is a significant follow-up to an important story. To an editor’s mind, this follow-up story needs to plenty of column-inches, otherwise it’s going to be lost on the printed page among all the other stories. (By the way, is the New York Times still a broadsheet? That would exacerbate the problem.) So the editor figures, 25 paragraphs should give it the prominence it deserves. But when the reporter looks at the new information, whoops, there’s only three new sentences — one paragraph, tops. So we the readers get that one para of new info and 24 paras of padding.

    Ideally, the transition to the Web would alleviate the need for this kind of thing. But as long as newspapers publish the same content in both media, we’re going to be stuck with padding for print.

  45. 45
    lord karnage says:

    no one on 4chan would ever provide a comment as they’d recognize most editorial page content for what it is, a troll. it’s a sad comment that most trolling on the tubes is considerably more subtle and artful than you’re average op-ed or joe klein piece. those “writers” are paid to be provocative. it’s puzzling that society has decreed that because they don’t use potty mouth words, they are worthy of some degree of prestige and a substantially higher pay grade. but a troll is a troll is a troll. for those unfamiliar with the convention, you might spend a few moments contemplating the tactics and strategies of countertrolling.

    hugs and kisses,
    lk

  46. 46
    AAA Bonds says:

    The story would have been read by a lot more people if it had contained quotes from 4chan, for a lot of different reasons.

    I lament the death of Laissez’s Faire on SA, which was everything that Balloon Juice wants to be.

  47. 47
    pragmatism says:

    it must be odd to be one of the people that has been used in the pictures for the onion’s “man on the street” bit. they have been on there for 15+ years with some of the most random quotes, places and names beneath them.

  48. 48
    AAA Bonds says:

    Tempting Anonymous while whistling and looking innocent is probably the best way to get your name up in the Matrix.

    It’s what I’d do if I were a journalist.

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