The Times: Poking, Chortling
Writer-editor Tom Scocca (Gawker, Deadspin, The Baltimore City Paper, New York Observer and Slate) is starting a new website called the “Hmm Daily,” and for once, and despite the title, it doesn't sound like something that makes me want to take a shower. It sounds smart. He sounds smart—someone I could learn from.
Here's the portion of his interview with Columbia Journalism Review that made me perk up and all but shout, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” while pumping my fist in the air:
In this new project, what is it that you are working in opposition to?
There’s a quick answer that I feel is a woefully incomplete one. I think in my pitch [for the site] I outright said that this is going to be against everything The New York Times opinion section stands for. There’s a whole style of argumentation out there that’s grounded in bad intellectual faith. People are trying to do provocations based on partisan self-positioning. The way James Bennet keeps describing the Times opinion operation is great; it’s great to challenge your readers, but that’s not what they’re doing. They’re just poking their readers in the eye and then chortling about it. If there is one thing I try to get across to people in editing them, it’s that somebody is going to find the weakest part of your argument, and it might as well be you. That kind of taking responsibility for what you say, and making sure that it will seem meaningful and defensible to other people, is the thing they just are categorically not doing there. There’s just so much room for a higher level of honest discussion and argumentation.
The line after the highlighted is great, too. Need to remember that one.
It is a shame how bad the Times Op-Ed page is. Not sure which is worse, that or NPR's “Morning Edition.”