Friday, July 01, 2005

The "A" Word

Jack Shafer in Slate does a nice smackdown of the New York Times's eleven-part "Class Matters" series. The series is, he says, overly pedantic, vague and, though he doesn't use the word, dumb. Though excruciatingly long, it is less than the sum of its parts.

I especially liked his quotation from Chris Lehmann of the Boston Phoenix, who noted the hypocrisy of the class-drenched Times preaching to the masses about class. "The paper's reporters didn't need to travel the country to document class in America. . . All it had to do was investigate its own pages where class lines are delineated every day," Shafer quotes Lehmann as saying.

All good stuff. However, Jack omits the reason why the Times would devote so much column-lineage to this dreck.

Come on, Jack! Cat gotcha tongue? Can't you pronounce the "A" word?

The Times didn't produce this obscene waste of wood pulp because it was interested in "the reader." It did so because it was interested in "awards," the bigger the better. That wasn't a reason. I'd argue it was the reason. The only reason. That and career considerations of all concerned. Concepts such as "coherence" fell by the wayside in the process.

Jack, stand in the corner. You try hard, and deserve an "A" for effort, but you are going to have to do a better job--and produce longer copy--if you ever want to win any awards!

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