I REMAIN a dedicated fan of the Gray Lady, but its recent pieces looking for some “good news” in the Amazon fight struck me as bit strange.
Today I respond in a post for Salon. It begins this way:
In the careful-what-you-wish-for department: A bit more than a week ago, the New York Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, urged her paper to bring some balance to its coverage of Amazon and bookselling. This is not, she wrote, the story of “good and evil” or “a literature-killing bully.” Her closing paragraph asked for a new kind of piece: “I would like to see more unemotional exploration of the economic issues; more critical questioning of the statements of big-name publishing players; and greater representation of those who think Amazon may be a boon to a book-loving culture, not its killer.”
She’s right, largely: The newspaper of record needs to work very hard to look at various sides of any issue it covers, even if the anti-Amazon side has made more noise lately. But so far the stories sympathetic to Amazon have been unconvincing at best. In fact, they’re starting to resemble the ass-covering pieces newspapers sometimes do to placate people in the fringes of an issue, like when nervous editors send out calls to find a scientist who doesn’t believe in global warming.
I also urge everyone to read Franklin Foer’s New Republic piece, which I refer to in mine.