The Shadow Editors

James Frey's Introduction to "Reality Matters"

Choire Sicha: I have just received in the mail the galley of an anthology, released today, about reality television, which is called "Reality Matters" and which has a foreword by James Frey.

Tom Scocca: You have never.

Choire: I have so! (And Will Leitch and others are reading from it tonight in New York!)

Tom: What have you learned from it? What does James Frey have to say about reality television?


Tiger Woods at the Masters Bigger Than Iraq Invasion and American Christmas

Tom Scocca: What is a "media event"?

Tom: "CBS News boss: Tiger's return will be second-biggest media event of last 10 or 15 years."

Tom: "'I think the first tournament Tiger Woods plays again, wherever it is, will be the biggest media event other than the Obama inauguration in the past 10 or 15 years,' says CBS News president Sean McManus. Will his on-air announcers mention the scandal? 'I don't think there is a lot of reason to dwell on what has happened in the past because it is one of the most exploited and overexposed stories in recent memory.'"

Choire Sicha: Whoa. Sean McManus. The good news [...]


Everyone Thinks He's Jill Abramson Now

Tom: "Even with requisite journalistic care (including round-robin meetings with editors), it would seem that a [David] Paterson story should have been ready to be printed by Friday morning, especially since any yet-to-be confirmed charges against the governor could always run in a later article. Instead, the Times has yet to publish. While there may be extenuating factors, we have reached the point when the Times' care at being journalistically responsible has become irresponsible." Choire: I mean. How do you even come to that conclusion? Tom: It is crackers.


Clark Hoyt's Reign of Error Ends in June

Much went awry in the handling of these two articles: a new freelancer was not properly vetted; e-mail in which she disclosed her personal relationship was overlooked; an editor wanted to accommodate a respected staff member even though she knew his essay was flawed.New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt.

Tom: Whahuh, Clark Hoyt? Tom: I don't…. Tom: Ha, wow. Choire: Shall we turn first to the sad, sad story of the Times copy editor who wrote a Complaint Box column about Jet Blue, an airline that he'd sued after missing a flight because he couldn't find the gate? Tom: Thirty minutes? Tom: Dude showed up [...]


Reading Mark Greif's Recent 'N+1' Piece In Real Time

You weren't the only ones with lots of things to say on the topic of On Repressive Sentimentalism, in which, well….

Tom Scocca: Wow, this n+1 thing is PROFOUNDLY ARGUABLE.

Choire Sicha: Uh oh.


Hands Off That Rumpus, Dave Eggers!

Tom Scocca: So because I am a subscriber to the New Yorker, my current issue is still the August 24 issue, which I guess people could buy off newsstands something like 10 days ago.

Choire Sicha: So you have just seen a truly hair-raising thing, I take it!

Tom Scocca: The pages are a little loose in this issue, because I flung it away from me and it hit the wall. I am not a satisfied customer.

Choire Sicha: The McKinsey consultants aren't going to like hearing that.

Tom Scocca: On page 61 of this issue there is a tiny bit of type. A photo credit. The photo credit reads [...]


Malcolm Gladwell on Chris Anderson's "Free"

Choire Sicha: Do not miss how amusing it is to have Malcolm Gladwell review Chris Anderson in the New Yorker. Tom Scocca: Wha- Tom Scocca: Zhu- Tom Scocca: Huff? Choire Sicha: So, yes, for starters? Gladwell finally makes the point that "approaching zero" is nowhere the same as zero. Tom Scocca: That's how Richard Pryor's embezzlement scheme worked in Superman III.


Pulitzers, Babies and WaPo Headlines

Tom Scocca: "It once did not matter if editors had all of their facts straight at the morning news meeting; there was plenty of time for reporting and editing. But with the world looking over their shoulders, things are different. Editors are dressing better, speaking in complete, sound-bite sentences, and mistakes are embarrassing."

Choire Sicha: Uh oh.

Tom: I'll let you go ahead and watch the TimesCast program for me.

Choire: Oh no. You're not getting off that easy.

Tom: My browser is cloggy. Too many tabs! I am therefore Old Media.


Sally Quinn, Disinvited

[CORRECTION APPENDED: Due to a totally reasonable inability to keep all of the Bradlee divorces straight, we did indeed get one of the Bradlee divorces slightly confused! A correction is inserted; a handy family tree of the Bradlee family will surely be published at a later date.]

Choire: We need to discuss DAVID PATERSON: THE TOLD UNTOLD STORY but my mind is so blown by Sally Quinn that I can barely think.


Choire: I mean, for starters, I've never gotten over them naming their son Quinn Bradlee? This naming speaks either of WASP customs I don't understand or narcissism. (If those aren't the same [...]


Stolen Goods

Tom Scocca: You are familiar with the "Free for All" page of the Saturday Washington Post? Choire Sicha: Ha, vaguely. Tom Scocca: In which serious complaints about the paper are mixed willy-nilly with letters from cranks, in a great condescending gesture of false responsiveness?


How Not to Write a Headline

Tom Scocca: Here is a headline from Sunday's Washington Post: Tom Scocca: In art we lust Tom Scocca: "At second blush, classic works are allowed to rise to their full erotic potential." Tom Scocca: The Post is plagued by bad, amateurish, would-be-snappy headlines these days, and this one epitomizes the problem. Tom Scocca: If you have to change two parts of a stock phrase to make your headline, you are making a dumb and clunky headline. Tom Scocca: "In God We Trust" has nothing to do with the permeability of the barrier between "nude" and "naked" (aka "art" and "pornography"). Tom Scocca: So it's "In [WHOLLY UNRELATED WORD] we [...]


Less Talkin', More Townin'

This week's Talk of the Town in the New Yorker: was there not something odd about it? Tom Scocca sent a barrage of text messages on the topic. However, my iPhone is broken and unable to take screenshots, so, to share them, I risked opening a portal by actually taking pictures of my cellphone so that they might be spread.


Five Ways Ben Affleck Interviews Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn!

Tom Scocca: OK, so my September copy of Glamour arrived the other day.

Choire Sicha: You know what I'm going to ask you, right?

Tom Scocca: Are you going to ask me why I get Glamour magazine?

Choire Sicha: Okay yes that!

Tom Scocca: According to the sheet of paper enclosed with a previous copy, I am getting Glamour magazine to make up for the cancellation of my Domino subscription. This is a fine explanation except for the fact that I never had a subscription to Domino.


Bill Keller, History Slut (Or, Bigfoot Strikes Again)

Tom Scocca: Keller of 'NYT' in Iran: 'The Iranians Watch Us Closely' Choire Sicha: Mr. Executive Editor of the Times is driving me a little crazy. His Reporter's Notebook? Tom Scocca: Oh? Oh. "A newcomer to town." Tom Scocca: Oh, he did not do a "Welcome to…" transition. Choire Sicha: He's like 20 seconds away from a "Reader, I x'd Him."


Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Paid Me

Tom Scocca: Now I am going to tell you about my dream.

Choire: Oh neat!

Tom: I was working in some sort of coffeehouse at one end of a table. One one side, to the left, was Alex Balk. On the other side, to the right, was some tiny hipster girl blogging for Gawker.


A Scrutiny Draws A Quick Rise

Tom Scocca: I wish the Times did have the composure and self-assurance it pretends to have.

Choire Sicha: Ah. The whole "black man has been in jail!" thing.

Tom: It's just like the McCain-and-lobbyist story.

Tom: I am not even using her name, because she didn't have an affair with John McCain as far as I could tell.

Tom: But it is the same deal. The Times becomes, through its strenuous efforts not to appear irresponsible, exactly as irresponsible as it is accused of having been.


The "Looting" in Haiti

Tom Scocca: Did we learn nothing from Katrina? Tom Scocca: "The national police had all but vanished, and officials reported looting at a collapsed grocery store." Tom Scocca: "Looting"? Choire Sicha: UGH. Choire Sicha: WHO DID THAT? Tom Scocca: The New York Times. Choire Sicha: UGH. And. EVERYONE DID. Good job, Meredith Vieira!


Meat and Real Estate are both Murder

Tom Scocca: Did they time this whole rollout around Jonathan Safran Foer's vegetarianism book so as to get the maximum number of semi-precocious 15-year-olds to ruin their family Thanksgiving dinners?

Choire Sicha: Well it may just be the need for a Hot New Nonfiction Airport Book for fall, as Malcolm Gladwell only had a "best of" book. And I think David Sedaris is off this year.

Tom Scocca: Nice of J.S. Foer to swing over from the fiction team to fill the gap.

Choire Sicha: He took one for the team.

Tom Scocca: My advice to young would-be reporters is to write a novel, because once you've written a [...]


When Did Perez Hilton Become More Famous Than Paris Hilton And Why Were We Not Informed?

Tom Scocca: Is your Fashion Week over?

Choire Sicha: Is it ever!

Tom Scocca: Did anyone there notice that Perez Hilton is now more famous than Paris Hilton?


The Last Sad Gasps of the 'Baltimore Sun'

Tom Scocca: Did you ever read that Baltimore Sun piece? About the hit-and-run?

Choire Sicha: About the 17-year-old boxer who was allegedly run down by the police, whilst on his dirtbike? Yes I did!

Tom Scocca: That was as bad as a newspaper story ever gets. There was no epistemological effort put into it at all.