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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Reading for music geeks
Herein (with apologies to Slate), an abriged version of disgraced executive editor Howell Raines' epic piece on The New York Times in this month's Atlantic - with only the parts that are worth reading if you are solely a music geek and care nothing about the inner workings of the old grey lady...

Page 63: Aaliyah as cautionary tale
"Another telling lapse in our local-circulation outlook was the failure to recognize that - more than at any time since the days of Emma Lazarus - we are a city of immigrants. The death of the R&B singer Aaliyah in a plane crash in the Bahamas in the summer of 2001 was a huge event in places she had lived, Brooklyn and Detroit, with thousands of black and Latino mourners weeping in the streets. Yet the Times had perfunctorily covered her death, because one of our music critics had declared her a minor musician. So what? She was an icon in minority communities. Our lack of penetration in these communities proceeded from the most basic of journalistic reasons: we weren't a reliable source for the information they wanted and needed as their demographic profile changes. Indeed, even as the New York Times Foundation dispenses Ivy League scholarships to second- and third-generation Russians, Puerto Ricans, and Chinese, the paper still acts as if their homes are not Times households."

Page 71: The rock group White Stripes as symbol of hope
"When the opportunity presented itself, I moved to upgrade our culture coverage with the appointment of Steven Erlanger, an experienced foreign correspondent and former writing instructor at Harvard whom I knew to be a man of wide-ranging interests in the arts. Steve quickly stole Jodi Kantor, a young media editor from Slate, and put her in charge of Arts & Leisure. The impact was immediate. Both had a natural feel for topicality and demographic targeting. Steve intuitively understood the inner workings of high-culture institutions like the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York City Ballet. Arts & Leisure readers definitely knew there was a new sheriff in town when Jodi beat New York's hip publications to the punch with a lead story on the rock group White Stripes."

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