“Although organizers insisted they had created a nonpartisan grass-roots movement, others argued that these parties were more of the Astroturf variety,” sniffed reporter Liz Robbins. Somehow the paper had half a dozen reporters following the story, but managed not to print the fact that more than 5,000 people gathered in New York City alone.
The paper bungles the news in the stories it does cover. The April 16 Times’ front page featured a march in Afghanistan, where some 300 women turned out to protest a new law that severely limits the rights of women. “Women are mostly illiterate in this impoverished country, and they do not, generally speaking, enjoy anything near the freedom accorded to men,” the paper noted.
What’s changed? Well, women in Afghanistan today have the ability to protest only because the United States led a coalition to remove the Taliban in 2001 and allow an elected government to run the country. That’s the sort of fact that never seems to make The New York Times’ front page.
Sadly, this is the model so many newspapers across the country have chosen to follow. However, the failure of the Times could begin to change that.
This brings to mind the breakup of AT&T in 1982. At the time it seemed frightening to many. Here was a model that had worked for decades -- what would happen to the telecommunications industry without its giant leader?
What happened was competition. First in long distance, eventually in wireless technology. Today the very idea of a “long distance call” seems quaint. Virtually any call can be placed on a cell phone, and almost everyone has hundreds, even thousands, of minutes per month. However, this new world of portability and convenience wouldn’t have come about if AT&T had retained its monopoly.
As Mark Steyn noted on National Review’s “The Corner” blog recently, “The net result of the industry’s craven abasement before the Times is that American newspapering is dead as dead can be.” Sad but true.
Maybe, though, the death of one big paper will lead to the rebirth of many others.