Tags: Media Bias | times | editorials | liberal | inffectual | observer

NYT Reporters Slam 'Liberal, Ineffectual' Editorial Pages, Columnists

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By Melanie Batley   |   Wednesday, 05 Feb 2014 08:30 AM

The news reporters at The New York Times are in "semi-open revolt" against the newspaper's opinion pages, and contend the editorials are "liberal, poorly written and ineffectual," according to Ken Kurson, editor of The New York Observer.

In a column for the Observer, Kurson details interviews with more than two-dozen current and former Times staffers who report an almost universal dissatisfaction with the quality of the Times editorials.

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The sources, who Kurson says declined to be named for fear of retaliation, are also highly critical of Times Editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, describing him as both lazy and tyrannical.

"It's well known among the small world of people who pay attention to such things that the liberal-leaning reporters at The Wall Street Journal resent the conservative-leaning editorial page of The Wall Street Journal," Kurson writes.

"What's less known — and about to break into the open, threatening the very fabric of the institution — is how deeply the liberal-leaning reporters at The New York Times resent the liberal-leaning editorial page of The New York Times."

Kurson says the news reporters believe the editorials are disregarded by readers and are no longer seen to have weight or influence on public discourse. They also complain that the editorial department appears to be over-staffed in stark contrast to the ongoing cut-backs in the news department.

"I think the editorials are viewed by most reporters as largely irrelevant, and there's not a lot of respect for the editorial page," Kurson quotes one source as saying. "The editorials are dull, and that's a cardinal sin."

Another source said, "They're completely reflexively liberal, utterly predictable, usually poorly written and totally ineffectual. I mean, just try and remember the last time that anybody was talking about one of those editorials. You know, I can think of one time recently, which is with the [Edward] Snowden stuff, but mostly nobody pays attention, and millions of dollars is being spent on that stuff."

Rosenthal is widely blamed for the failings of the opinion pages, Kurson says, and a number of sources said he is both feared and resented.

"Andy is a wrecking ball," said one reporter that Kurson interviewed. "Rosenthal himself is like a petty tyrant, like anytime anyone on the news pages uses the word 'should' in their copy, you know, he sends nasty emails around kind of CCing the world. The word 'should' belongs to him and his people," Kurson quotes another source as having said.

Sources also criticized the caliber of opinion-page columnists, with a number of people singling out Thomas Friedman, the three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, as an embarrassment.

"I just think it's bad, and nobody is acknowledging that they suck, but everybody in the newsroom knows it," one source told Kurson. "And we really are embarrassed by what goes on with Friedman."

Kurson concludes by highlighting the thoughts of one reporter who summarized a number of the issues driving the dissatisfaction.

"It's so obvious that people on the news side find what the people on the opinion side are doing to be less than optimal. And it's not that we want their money; we want them to be awesome. The fact of the matter is The Wall Street Journal editorial page just kicks our editorial page's ass. I mean, there's just no contest, from top to bottom, and it's disappointing," the source told Kurson.

"And to see it persist and persist and persist on the editorial page with nobody having the guts to retire some of the people or things that are not only not working but have become caricatures of themselves is just a huge bummer."

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