Monday, September 23, 2013

Dear New York Times: I Don't Even Know Who You Are Anymore

Hey, New York Times. Is that you over there, ensconced in your favorite uptown Bistro, trying to impress the sommelier with insider knowledge from that time in your "adventurous youth" that you backpacked around Europe?

Yeah, I thought so. You know, you're really not fooling anybody.

In fact, some of your friends think you're going around the bend. They're disgusted at the way you still pretend to be doing journalism, as if you're asking the hard questions and challenging the status quo, when so often you seem to be just a mouthpiece for various power figures.

And I have to say, I've been wondering if you even know who you are anymore. It's like toadying has gone from being something-you-do-to-suck-up on occasion to being part of your core self. Do you even have a point of view? Is there any there there?

We see you around town and you're all "Hey, I'm a thoughtful guy!" When you poke your head in at the university you put on your Dockers and a T-shirt, as if to say, "I, too, might have been a professor! I just thought journalism would make more of an impact. We all want to change the world, right? Let's put our heads together!"

So when we see you out schmoozing with the Titans of Finance, we're like, WTF? What are we supposed to make of that? Your school-girl crush on Wall Street is obvious to everyone, and your evident desire to be an insider with the powers-that-be clique is cringe-inducing.

You do realize, right, that you can't be outside smoking pot with the cool kids and also be an anti-drug student council president type? Did you not see The Breakfast Club, or something?

I first started to notice this weird Zelig-like quality you have when I dipped into the Real Estate and Dining sections. Back in the day, I just read the news: I had my opinions, sometimes conflicting with yours, but I appreciated the way I could learn stuff from you.

When I branched out into the other sections, though, it was like finding out that your friend who hangs out with you drinking Two Buck Chuck and commiserating about student loan debt is secretly vacationing  on a yacht with Beyoncé and didn't even tell you about it.

Suddenly, I realized you were shopping for million dollar apartments and gazillion dollar second homes. Even crazier, you never seem to eat at any normal affordable restaurants -- it's always some crazy place where a bottle of wine is a hundred dollars.

Then I started to notice it everywhere. In the Science section, you're talking about climate change, and in the Styles section you're talking about how it's fun to have 24 hour electric fountains or live in houses made all of glass or fly back and forth to Europe just for the weekend.

At a basic and practical level, I don't even get how it works. I mean, you guys are journalists, right? And you work for The New York Times? You can't be making all that much money. How is it that all the people you seem to know are hiring 24-hour nannies, competing for fancy private nursery schools, and "wearing Prada"? 

I don't know what to say about our long-term prospects, New York Times, because I've been seeing someone else on the side. When you get your identity issues sorted out, give me a call, and we can talk.


thefringthing said...

So I should watch The Breakfast Club, eh?

Patricia Marino said...

Dunno how it would hold up for entertainment, but for anthropology of 1980s adolescence, it can't be beat.